When I was a teenager I exercised every day, but really didn't notice I was exercising, because it was FUN!!! I was on a tennis team back home in Bavaria and to get to practice or just play a match with one of my friends we rode our bicycles to the tennis court, which was about 3 miles away. So we got plenty of exercise and lots of laughter too. Then when I was 19 and started college, I was exercising a lot less. We do not have college sports in Germany, so that wasn't an option. But really when I think back to my life in Regensburg (by the way my favorite city - if you ever travel to Bavaria, don't miss it!!!!) we still got a lot of exercise since we would ride our bicycles or walk everywhere...I mean, who wants to drive a car to the beergarden?? And then who'd drive the car home after enjoying the cold local brews?? So, literally, you were on your feet all day. It took me 15 minutes to get to college by bicycle and about 10 to get downtown. A lot of times, we'd walk downtown, do a little shopping and then often realized, hey, we'd been walking for 4 hours (and spent 250 Mark - that was before the Euro), let's sit and have a coffee somewhere.
So, Germany, like most other European countries is very pedestrian friendly, as a matter of fact, every inner city has areas where there are no cars allowed....oh, how relaxing is it, to sit outside somewhere and enjoy a cappuccino without having to look at and listen to traffic. Well, after college came work...I taught at a school about 45 minutes outside of Regensburg, no walking there, I was driving every day...but still, when all the grading and preparing lesson plans was done, we'd still walk around and get out a lot. Back then I also went swimming a lot - we have public indoor and outdoor pools everywhere and they are fairly cheap. So still fine but a few pounds had creeped on...well, after 5 years of teaching, I decided I needed something new, an adventure, hey about moving to the US??
I am an English and German teacher and had spent a year in CT as an exchange student, that sounded like a great opportunity for me. What I really hadn't thought about so much is, that in the US you need your car to get everywhere...now I live in a really cute neighborhood and walk my dog everyday, but in reality, I am getting tired of seeing the same mailboxes, houses, people every day...where I grew up you could just walk for hours without seeing anybody. Miles and miles of woods, dirt roads, scenic walks...not anymore, now I am stuck. If I walk out of my nieghborhood, I am on a main road and I'd get runover by some ass texting while driving their huge Hummer around. Tried bicycling out there once and that just freaked me out, because there is no bicycle lane and nobody is paying attention...so, there's parks, where you could go hiking and biking, but in reality, I really don't want to sit in traffic for 25 minutes to then go on an hour walk and then drive back 25 minutes. I'd do that on weekends, but after work...too much effort.
Running in my neighborhood?? Not an option either...I just always see these people running and they look so unhappy (to me they do anyway). I tried running for about a week when I lived in Nuremberg and my legs got really itchy! My conclusion: I am allergic to running! Joined a gym and got really annoyed with it soon after. Everytime I was there, the machines I wanted to use were busy, so I'd be doing exercises I really didn't want to do while competing for the eliptical with 3 other people that were waiting...not relaxing. And group classes freak me out! I went to a Zumba class once and all the sudden the instructor said, to grab a partner and hold hands for the next exercise. I don't want to do that...I am weird like that. I don't like touching strangers anyway (which I guess is a good thing :) and when they're sweaty and red like a tomato, I really don't want any physical interaction with them. Also, I don't like talking while I exercise and in group classes that is impossible. I want to workout, think about things, listen to music and not discuss somebody's child's strep throat, black bean burger recipe or that they just bought a pair of yellow pants, because the 80s are coming back in fashion. And the last thing I want to do is, look at somebody's ass right in front of me while I am trying to do an exhausting mat exercise...NO THANKS!!!
So, hey, the solution for was to get some exercise DVDs and my favorite one is ZUMBA!!!
Zumba is a Latin dance-inspired fitness program created by dancer Alberto "Beto" Perez in Colombia during the 1990s. Zumba involves elements of dance and aerobics. It incorporates hip hop, soca, salsa, merengue, reggae, mambo, and some Bollywood moves. Squats and lunges are also included. There are 12 million people taking weekly Zumba classes in over 110,000 locations across more than 125 countries.
What I love about this program is that you really don't feel like you are exercising. Also it is one of the few exercise DVDs where the music is NOT annoying, it is actually fun to listen to. The program that I suggest is produced by the creator of Zumba, Beto and he is one of the instructors on the DVDs. His Southamerican accent gives the program some extra flavor and the things he says, make me laugh at times too. He's just cute! There are a number of different dancers on this DVD and everybody is doing it a little different, which is great, because you don't ever feel like you are doing it wrong. The DVD set I purchased includes
- 4-DVD, 6-workout fitness set designed to work your body from head to toe
- Loaded with red-hot dance steps, pulsating rhythms, and easy-to-follow routines
- Comes with maraca-like toning sticks to add muscle to your sculpting workouts
- Includes basics workout, 20-minute express workout, and sculpt-and-tone workout
- Also includes "cardio party" workout and flat abs workout
I skipped the basic workout that explains the steps because I had been to a Zumba class before and it was a little slow for me. I started out with the 20 minute workout and it is fairly easy to follow. I still do that for days, when I don't have a lot of time or really don't feel like exercising... I mean, 20 minutes is fast - no excuses anymore! Everybody has 20 minutes a day! The cardio party is fun and even included some western/country dance moves, which were tough in the beginning, but as long as you don't look at yourself in the mirror while doing it, you should be fine :) The abs workout is GREAT!!! I hate crunches and Beto's workout doesn't require you to lay down, you just train your abs while dancing. I don't ever write product reviews, but this set really is awesome. I'll post it here and you can check it out - it has over 1000 great reviews. I bought the smaller set, but there is another one that comes with even more DVDs and workouts. I currently am still using my basic set, but am considering buying the bigger set. This set is great to lose weight, destress after work, and just get moving (especially if you have an office job), so there's only thing left to say: ZUMBA!!!