I have new theory about exercising.
As some of you may know, I have found religion with Zumba (I’m a little giddy here – I loveitloveitloveit with a level of devotion that approximates what many pre-teens feel for Bieber.) But even though my new workout crush has turned my head, I am still faithfully continuing with my core (pun intended) weight-training sessions. Turns out, I like rotating these exercises: like peanut butter and chocolate, Sonny and Cher, and Anne Hathaway and James Franco (well, okay, not the last pair) they work together beautifully. In fact – DING! LIGHTBULB! – they are opposing-yet-matching YIN and YANG workouts. And like a dog who gets scratched in that magic spot behind the ears, doing these workouts together just feels so deliciously right.
Zumba is all hip shaking, booty shaking, feminine flirty fun. Even though your heart is cranked up and you’re sweating gumdrops, there’s a sexy flow to the movements. In Zumba class, you get to be allll woman. You know how you dance at home when you’re getting dressed to go out and you put on Hot 97 and do your crunkiest/nastiest video vixen moves in front of your bedroom mirror? (You know you do…) Well, picture 40 women of different sizes, ages and skills doing that together, unselfconsciously, each one enjoying herself and thinking, “Daaaaamn, I am ALL THAT!” and you’ve got the essence of Zumba.
If that’s not the Garden of Estrogren, I don’t know what is.
Resistance training is a totally different experience. If Zumba’s soundtrack is Shakira, training’s is AC/DC. I may be stereotyping here, but the energy feels rock n’ roll (or, I suppose, what society calls “masculine”) to me. It’s about muscles, power, strength. I don’t flow and float when I am pushing through a set of pull ups; it’s a hard, warrior effort (makes me feel kind of like Demi Moore in GI Jane, in fact.) I tear…it…up, and I love it. I love feeling strong, I love the accomplishment and the rush. And this kind of work changes you: studies show that weight training is THE best thing you can do for your bones, for your metabolism, for longevity and on and on. Pretty much, weight bearing exercises are the key to staying and being healthy.
I have come to crave both.
And so, after years of working out, cross-training is finally making sense. Float like a butterfly, AND sting like a bee! Don’t limit yourself. Doing both dance AND weights hits both sides of my spirit, the yin and yang, the masculine and feminine, not just different muscle groups. POW and ZEN, ah, got it. Muscle extension, muscle contraction – both movements are vital. In fact, you couldn’t have one without the other – they inform and impact the other.
So expand your world (I’m talking fitness and beyond) and try something new, something you didn’t think you were suited for. You may find, it feels great. We’re all a mix of masculine and feminine – folks have said that from Confucius to Jung to Oprah – so don’t hold yourself back in some stereotypical corner. These definitions are arbitrary anyway. You can do anything! (Lightbulb #2: I’ve been organically yin/yanging forever. In spring of 6th grade, I was the only girl on my Little League baseball team AND Snow White in the school play…) And, truthfully, any time you get off the couch it’s a move in the right direction. So what’s your balance? What makes sense to you? Let us know, here, on Tuck Takes Off. xxoo Steph Oh, and sorry if I am repeating myself, but Christopher Vo is the best Zumba teacher in NYC. Take a class – WOW.