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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Entries in aerobic dancing (1)


A Gardener Who Zumbas

Gardening was supposed to keep me in good shape. It didn’t. By supervising staff all summer long, I had few opportunities to bend, crouch, dig or haul. As a result, my body began to lose strength and allowed chronic back and hip pain to set in. A visit to the doctor taught me that, to avoid discomfort, I must exercise for the rest of my life. This directive is not only about keeping fit for gardening; it's about  preventing the body from succumbing to arthritis.

The doctor informed me that my back pain was linked to weak core muscles and that I would benefit from rehabilitation physiotherapy. In addition, I was given a set of stretching exercises that must be done forever. To do them effectively, I need to muster up powerful and uncharacteristic motivation because the routines are boring.

When I realized that I was waging a losing battle with myself, every time I thought about the exercises,  I recalled an infomercial that had been endlessly broadcast on TV several years earlier. The  advertisement for Zumba was about strengthening core muscles using high intensity aerobic dance routines, performed to the accompaniment of infectious Latin American dance rhythms. Since I am moved by music, I thought this product might serve as a motivator; that it would be a good substitute for boring exercises. To my surprise, I was able to locate it online at Amazon, at a price equal to one physiotherapy session.

Zumba is a work out incorporating high intensity interval training that allows me to exercise  longer, harder, and to burn more calories while strengthening the core muscles. Each of the four DVDs in this set offers a different approach. The introductory disc demonstrates the basic steps for the dance routines, and is itself a safe workout for a person who is out of shape. A second disc allows me to participate in a high intensity aerobic class, while a third focuses on sculpting and toning the body. The last disc provides an exhausting cardio workout for the brave and super-dedicated.

In all four DVDs, instructors remind us to focus on the core muscles. To avoid the monotony that overcomes those who train at home and alone, I select a different disc each time I "dancercize". Happily, I no longer need to be motivated. I hear the dance rhythms and the mind and body soar as I move to the music.

After a few weeks of Zumba exercising, I noticed that I was walking taller and straighter than before and that the core of my body was stronger. Now, I wish that I were talented enough to convince my wife to use this product with me. Then, we might be able to dance salsa together next time we are invited to a wedding reception. Sadly, that will not happen. In her youth, my wife was a very nimble and speedy track-and-field athlete whose feet soared when she raced but, alas, tripped when she danced. For me, dancing, like gardening, will always be an enjoyable, but solitary, activity.