Your tummy hangs on your thighs in the luxury car you are cruising in with your friend from school who married a billionaire in Dubai; getting up like a camel to say a fake hello to someone you really would prefer to avoid — especially after you have been lolling on the sofa, munching peanuts and nachos with dressing, your stomach bulges playing peek-a-boo with sofa cushions at soirees; rear expansion is at war with your fitted shirt from Sapphire; looking like a Japanese Samurai (sans the skills) among your friends from the corporate world who resemble sleek Dobermans.

 Sound familiar?  

Then it would be fair to say that fitness is not your mantra; you are more Oscar Wilde than Jane Fonda. But you make it your New Year resolution to get into shape so you serve notice to your expanding waistline and your rear that enters the room after you do.  

Trimming your waistline takes more motivation than social pressure

 The gym is the first port of call, but it would not be an exaggeration to say that you have to be a warrior to survive it.   

 All the women within your radius stare at you, but woe betide that they actually talk or nod to you. Men, on the other hand, will not only stare, they will also talk on their phone with gusto so you are aware of their exciting social life.

The treadmill is an exercise in the torture of the mind, body and soul.

Then there is the hanging-by-your-arms exercise. While it looks the epitome of grace when Nadia Comaneci glides through the air, your arms are nearly torn out of their sockets while your legs scramble for a foothold. You feel like a condemned prisoner about to be hanged with the stool pushed away. By the time you are back on your feet wheezing and sore-limbed, all the supple and loose-jointed people in the room are looking at you with mirth.  

The zumba instructor is one of those overly cheerful extroverts who can give you a roaring headache. The ballet studio room is promising and gives off vibes from Dirty Dancing except there is no Patrick Swazye to hold on to. The music is indescribably dreadful. If you have to huff and puff next to a sweaty, excited crowd, one would prefer to have music that can transport you away from your blubbery presence.

 When you are struggling with 4kg of weight, there will be a tiny woman lifting 25kg, chewing gum and talking loudly. While you are doing yoga to ease your back muscles, that teeny woman will be tossing around a 30kg wheel with as much ease as Wonder Woman throwing her shield. While the veins of your hands are as prominent as Madonna’s, the woman will be wearing fluorescent gloves to shield her hands so she can glide by you at the next dinner in a Sania Maskatiya ensemble wrapped around her streamlined body and Cartier jewellery on her soft scarlet-tipped hands.

So much for the gym. How about zumba?

With the Khaadi pants nearly splitting their seams, what other option do you have?

In one’s mind, zumba is the same as dancing. Spirited and vigorous.

Reality check.

The first misgiving is when they ask for the payment upfront so your plans of ditching the class halfway if it’s not any good go out the window. The sinking feeling is akin to when you wonder why you are doing the saath pheras of marriage halfway through.   

The instructor is one of those overly cheerful extroverts who can give you a roaring headache. The ballet studio room is promising and gives off vibes from Dirty Dancing except there is no Patrick Swazye to hold on to. The music is indescribably dreadful. If you have to huff and puff next to a sweaty, excited crowd, one would prefer to have music that can transport you away from your blubbery presence. Instead, the music is super fast, mocking you at every bar as you try to keep pace — and fail miserably.

The frenzied teacher launches into kicks, airborne squats and contortions of pretzel legs. Not content with jumping around like a banshee, she punctuates the more memorable moments by breaking out into war-like whoops, hands splayed dramatically in the air a la Freddie Mercury. At this moment one wants to yell; “I want to break free!”   

“Break,” she flashes a grin as the music stops for each song but just as you go on rubbery legs to your water bottle and lean on the window sill, it’s time to fling yourself about again. How is that a break?  

Suffice to say, that was the last zumba class that one suffered through. ‘Never again’ was the refrain as one tried to coax the knees back into action down the stairs.

Shouldn’t exercise be fun instead of tortuous? Why are we paying for feeling worse?

The columnist is a freelance writer.
She tweets @MaheenUsmani
Email: maheenusmani25@gmail.com

Published in Dawn, EOS, January 28th, 2018