As a form of cardio exercise it doesn't get much more fun than Zumba, writes Gill South.
Frankly, I'm pretty easy on myself when it comes to exercise. Walks gassing away to my friends are my regular exercise and I'm now doing Pilates once a week. I very rarely break into a sweat but I realise this is important for me.
Apparently sweating is good for strengthening your bones. So I've gone along to a Zumba exercise class to see if this might be a painless way of exercising. I love dancing and do it far too rarely - I'm thinking it might be a novel idea to do it without having consumed alcohol too.
I arrive late, easing myself into the class at the back of the room and try and get into the steps and the rhythm. I'm the only one who doesn't have sneakers on - that hadn't occurred to me - but nobody seems to notice I'm in my socks. I'm so the new girl.
Everyone has a big grin on their face, you don't see that often in gyms. I'm at Morningside Health & Sports Fitness centre just down from Kingsland and it's 10.45 on a Friday morning.
I had to look high and low to find a Zumba class that is run during the day. The vast majority are after work but I'm sorry, at 7.30 at night I can usually be found in my pyjamas. I peak at around 10 in the morning.
It doesn't take long to get into the swing of it. There's a woman at the front row who really knows her stuff, so I just focus on her and copy exactly what she's doing. Well, half a second later. Takes me back to my ballet classes when I was a tot. Fortunately a lovely mum from my kids' school has joined the class late too, so we have fun giggling at the back.
To my astonishment, I find myself having great fun and the hour flies past.
The guy teaching the class reminds me of a mime artist. He shows people what steps and moves to make, making funny faces as he does them. I feel a bit like a line dancer at times, at one point you grab a partner and link arms.
I think there are some moves in there I could take to the dance floor next time I'm out on the town, that once-a-year occasion. Lots of booty and shoulder-shaking. Good fun.
There's definitely plenty of arm and leg exercises in there and it can get pretty fast at times, which is when you work up the sweat. I don't think there are many parts of my body which are ignored in this exercise class. But, despite this being exercise, I'm enjoying the Latin American music. I never think "this is too hard".
I make my exit slightly early because I'm having morning tea with a friend. Over plates of cake - well I never said I was going to change my diet - we discuss my new form of exercise.
A bath with essential oils tonight I think, just to make sure those muscles are not too sore.
I have long had friends extol the virtues of the Alexander Technique for improving posture and making your body more flexible. I am going to see Jann McMichael, an experienced teacher who is setting up an Alexander Technique school in Auckland.