FWP: The Tyranny of the Pushy Zumba Instructor
PROBLEM: One of my neighbours is a Zumba instructor who teaches weekends in my building’s party room. She invited me to a session, and I went. But … it was a hilarious nightmare. She was obviously only there to watch herself dance and never taught the steps to the three of us taking the class. She’s been asking me since to come back. I’m new to the building and don’t want to be a bad neighbour but … Zumba is NOT for me. I’m feeling obligated. How do I get out?
KB: Oh, you know a “Zumba instructor,” too? I know like seven. When did this become a thing that everyone’s underemployed, overly-enthusiastic friends and neighbors started doing? Anyway, I digress. Let’s first analyze why you want to sit this one out? This sounds like pure comedy. People pay serious money to Netflix to be entertained like this. I say go for the comedic fodder.
But if you really can’t stomach it, my advice is to back out with a self-deprecating “But you saw me! I can’t dance to save my life!” Sort of the equivalent of an: “It’s not you, it’s me.” I hear you, Zumba breakups are the hardest kind.
AV: You could say, “I can’t come, but my colleague is really interested in filming you for her own financial benefit and entertainment.” No? Fine, fine. How about, “Oh, actually, my doctor says my eyes really can’t take any more atrocity?”No? Sheesh. Tough crowd.
You could always just say that you’ve never liked dancing (look bashful) and Zumba is not for you. Or say you spend so much time inside, what with work and travel, that you really like getting outdoors for your workout. I’m bringing SB’s #auntymaneuver back for a final suggestion: “Oh, you guys are too energetic for me! It was fun but I can’t keep up! Thank you!” Exclamation points make for cheery denial!
SB: I find Zumba to be a strange experience generally (too much enthusiastic hand-waving and breathy screeching for me), but from what you’ve said, Zumba isn’t really the issue. Your histrionic friend is clearly using this as the most recent way to get as much attention as possible.
My advice: run. Next month she will want you to come watch her one-woman performance of the Vagina Monologues (Lord help you). Better set the precedent early that you’re just not that into her. I would go with a simple, “I don’t think Zumba is for me, but I will tell others about it!” Which, of course, you already have.
LG: You don’t want to be a bad neighbour? Then why deny your neighbour the only thing she truly wants: the reflection of her leaping self in the eyes of an adoring crowd reflected in the mirror behind her?
I’m with KB: Unless her prices are extortionate, rally up a bunch of your friends, spike your Gatorade with vodka, and have the time of your lives while maybe burning a few calories. In fact, suggest just that for the next class: “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” from Dirty Dancing. I bet she’s just dying to do that Patrick Swayze-lift with her reflection, and I bet you’re dying to watch her try it.
MM: Go to a Zumba class to be neighbourly and you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of torture. SB illustrates this well with the Vagina Monologues example. And it is likely to extend to kids’ ballet recitals, pot luck dinners featuring cuisines you don’t enjoy, movies you absolutely hate.
Much of adult social interaction is perpetuated by humans like yourself ‘playing along’ at the whims and fancies of people like your neighbour. In the interest of humanity (and dance), don’t play along. Save the world and save yourself. A cup of chai makes for a far better companion.