I think it’s finally, finally hit me: Exercise has to be fun.

I’ve spouted that advice to client after client over the years. “If you don’t enjoy doing it,” I’d warn, “then you’re not going to do it! Pick an activity that brings you joy and that you look forward to, and you’ll get fit in no time.”

Blah, blah, blah.

I was talking the talk, but no so much walking the walk. I was still pushing myself to go on dreaded treadmill runs and traumatizing myself in group boot camp classes that had me hobbling out of the gym door in pain. Part of the problem is that I didn’t know what exercise I liked. Hiking in nature is a personal fave, but living in the middle of Brooklyn means that a hike is a special-occasion treat for me — not something I can do regularly to stay in shape.

So I started exploring. Yoga? Check – love it! I went to a few local classes before settling on a studio in my ‘hood that fit my style (Bodhisattva, in case you’re curious). Pilates? Not so much. With every crunch I found myself asking, “why, exactly, am I doing this to myself again? Owwwww.” Personal training? Totally hit the spot. It was in my sessions at Pongo Power that I really started to discover that movement can be a good time. My trainer, Danielle, would have me doing fun, silly things like leaping over sidewalk cracks and jumping rope that not only brought out the kid in me but had me sweating like a mo-fo.

But I still hadn’t found a fun aerobic activity that I would actually look forward to, so I finally decided to check out the whole Zumba craze. I got brave one rainy morning last week and showed up at a local yoga studio – Park Slope Yoga – that also teaches Zumba several times during the week.

I was totally intimidated before the music started. I love to dance to Michael Jackson and Kanye with my husband — shades drawn, pajamas on — but coordinating my feet to move with music in front of a group seemed completely petrifying. I mean, let’s be honest here – I am not exactly the world’s most coordinated person when it comes to, well, coordination.

But the teacher started up the latin music and we started to move and I totally, completely fell in love. I suddenly didn’t care that I was shaking my hips awkwardly or missing every third step. I just…felt….good. I was sweating, but I was having fun. It felt like a living-room-dance-session and I was having a blast. An hour later, I left the studio a sweaty mess with a newly purchased 10-pack session card in my hand. And couldn’t wait to go back!

This week, I am dragging my mom there with me, and plan to bring whatever local friends I can for another dance party round. When exercise is fun, you don’t dread it. When it clicks with your personal style and you feel your body enjoying the movement, you get so much more than “fitness” for your money. Zumba made me feel energized, silly, and sexy. Quite an combo!

Do you have exercise you love to do? What have you found that moves your body and your spirit?

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