COLUMN: The great Zumba experiment

Nicholas Mercer
Published on July 28, 2014
Compass reporter/photographer Nicholas Mercer.
Compass file photo

There is a sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing a good workout.


Your legs burn, your back aches and your energy deposits are depleted, but none of those matter at the moment. You finished the workout.

You put your body through something it was sorely lacking and came out the other side.

Early Saturday (July 26) afternoon, I stood in the community gardens in Bay Roberts, hands on my knees and my breathing heavy and ragged. Drenched in sweat, the back of my blue cotton shirt wears the evidence of my endurance.

I had just completed an hour long Zumba session. It was the first time completing anything resembling the dance-oriented workout.

It was grueling. Countless times, I found myself just staring at the stage 20 feet in front of me as instructor Amanda Thompson ripped through an intense routine song after song.

When finally finished, it was a rewarding feeling knowing I had accomplished it.

How did this start you ask?

It’s simple really. My quest to complete a Zumba session, or the Big Z as I call it, came from a simple suggestion.

On Monday (July 21) afternoon, my editor motioned to the schedule for Klondyke Days and suggested I do Zumba.

No problem I said.

That was my thought process from Monday until Friday evening. There were jokes about completing the program, both from friends and social media.

Friends chuckled at the notion and offered alcoholic beverages for their opportunity to watch.

Then the calendar turned to Saturday. That’s when the dread set it.

Waking up with a knot in my chest, there was a nervousness coursing through my body.  I awoke and it was raining, which produced a mental leap for joy and an exhale of stress.

Maybe, it would be cancelled and I wouldn’t have to go through with it.

Alas, the rain stopped and the temperature started to rise. I would have to dust off my old tennis shoes and put them to good use.

A half hour before the event, I assembled what I affectionately called my ‘Zumba kit’ consisting of blue and white Under Armour shoes, a towel, what seemed like a gallon of water – it was just a litre – and a change of clothes.

Pulling into the parking lot, I set myself for the next hour.

A couple of things crossed my mind when the first energetic notes floated through the air. My feet don’t move in the ways she was moving.

Taking up residence in the back corner, everyone in front of me and to the left of me are veterans. They move through the steps like a fish moving along with the flow of water.

They dip, thrust and gyrate as if its second nature. Me?

I’m more like a baby learning to walk for the first time. Each movement is awkward and clumsy. There were times I felt like I was learning the ropes. But every time I did, the script was rewritten.

I’d like to thank the people around me. Their gentle chides and supportive words got me through some of the workout.

At the end, my legs were Jell-O and I wobbled for a couple of minutes after.

Zumba is not at all like I thought it was. I’ve gained a great deal of respect for the people that throw themselves into the exercise.

Will I take in another class? Who knows.

But, I value what I learned because of it.

—Nicholas Mercer is a reporter/photographer with The Compass. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at