I have found my perfect Zen exercise. Zumba.

Zumba, if you haven’t tried it in the last five years that it has been the latest thing, is a kind of Latin dance aerobics class. I am so bad at this class there is no way I can ever hope for mastery. This makes it the perfect thing for me to do for both cardio exercise and Zen meditation twice a week. My mantra so far is “Nope, can’t do that. Can’t do that one either. Wait I think I’ve got…Nope can’t do that…”

There is something about the Latin beat that confuddles me. I feel like Steve Martin in “The Jerk”, just can’t find that beat to save my life. I’m not particularly musical and have almost zero rhythm, but I can usually pick up an exercise routine because, like many people, I spent a great deal of time in the ’80s and ’90s in aerobics classes. And I also have a stubborn streak a mile wide that gets activated when I cant do something that it seems like I should be able to do.

It seems like Zumba is something I should be able to master. I am so wrong.

That is why Zumba is my Zen exercise. It takes complete concentration for me to keep up in the loosest sense of the word, so I can’t spare a thought for any worry or planning or self doubt. Just count the steps – one, two, cha cha cha – and dream of the day I can add in all the arm motions I am supposed to be doing. Due to lack of skill I am currently doing the Irish step dance version of Zumba – arms at my sides, stiff torso and blank face. Managing my feet and avoiding watching myself in the walls of mirrors is as much as I can manage at one time.

The ritual humiliation earns me 90 minutes of sweat twice a week and at least 30 minutes of Zen like acceptance that I don’t have a Latin bone in my body and that’s okay. Also, given that I have yet to make my hips keep up with the instructor in what looks like twerking, this is one pebble that will never be snatched from the Master’s hand. As the very talented lady in the twerk video says, “you need to know which way your hips are moving.” I think she is assuming you can find the beat.

I accept my Zumba suckiness and will keep questing for the elusive Latin rhythm. My goal is not to conquer my deficiency, my goal is to continue to show up in the face of my ineptitude. And maybe, eventually,  know which way my hips are moving.