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Call Me Marq

I’m taking a 10-session zumba class at the NYU gym for the fourth semester and not because I flunked.

At the beginning of the first session last spring, after giving an overview to the group—11 people ranging in age from early 20s to mid-30s and me–Marquist, the instructor, put on music and got right to it. Positioning myself in the back near the exit, behind a 20-something-year-old woman, who had the moves, I tried imitating her and Marquist. While not as groovy, I heard the beat, did just fine, and fit in better than Woody Allen’s Virgil Starkwell, the inept bank robber, did playing the cello in the marching band in “Take the Money in Run.”

After every number, Marquist checked on us and showed us new steps. “My friends call me Marq,” he said. “You should, too. It’s my party name. We’re here to party. Here to have fun. Do what you can. Don’t try to keep up with me.” He seemed to be looking my way. He then mentioned he was certified in Life Saving and CPR. I was sure he was looking at me.

I lasted the hour. I’ve lasted the entire hour most days except during July and August when, without a/c, an hour of dancing, bouncing, kicking, and gyrating followed by stretching became a tad much. I’ve had fewer absences than the others. My only ones have been on the Tuesdays I teach and when I’ve had deadlines. I’ve made those up in Marq’s Saturday morning class with students who are younger than springtime, too.

During the first semester, I asked the woman I tried to imitate how she got so good. “It comes easy,” she said. “I’m Spanish.”

I’m not. I’m not young either. After class, the walk through Washington Square and up Fifth Avenue to my apartment takes forever. I’m beat.

It’s worth it. I get my heart rate up. I love the moves. The music’s fun. We are one. When Marq tells us to add “attitude,” and our own flavor and spices as we would to a jambalaya, I do. I feel sexy. Alive. I wanted to take a zumba class from the start. There’s no conflict. No struggle. Nothing holding me back. No one gives a rusty how I or anyone looks or moves. Sort of like life.

Word’s gotten out. The party has grown. We’re up to 18. And up in age. Now the dancers to my left and right are older than my daughter. Most everyone smiles as we add our flavors.

At the beginning of each class, Marq still reminds us—the repeaters and newcomers— he knows CPR and Life Saving, but wants to save them for another day. I still last the hour, getting my heart rate up, adding spice and flavor, feeling tired after, but great.

Keep those contest entries coming (due Feb. 19) about your loves.

Zumba’s among mine.

Call me Marq.

My instructor, Marquist, when he is not at the zumba party


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