As some of you may already know, one of my favourite things to do each week is my Saturday morning Zumba classes at Goodlife Fitness in Nepean (you can read my full review here).

I hadn’t been to class in three weeks since we have been out of town every weekend, so I was really looking forward to it this week! Its my favourite workout class and it definitely felt like something was missing without it! But once we started dancing and getting into the music, something really unexpected happened – I started to cry. This didn’t just happen once either… but probably 5 or 6 times over the two classes.

Ok-so I didn’t actually cry during class (I definitely did after! :p ) but it was close. I had to take a few deep breaths to help me fight back tears. Why? As I was looking around me and thinking about the class, I was overcome with some intense emotions.

I had a rough week. Work was not fun (although, is it ever? :p), Keith and I have been butting heads over stupid little things lately (oh the joys of living together!), and I felt stalled in my weight loss. When I looked in the mirror, I felt fat and lumpy. I was not feeling beautiful when I walked into that class.

But, just like usual, I put my heart into those moves. I was rocking out, smiling and enjoying the music when I realized for the first time all week I felt safe and happy. In that moment. I was okay. I was more than that – I felt beautiful.

So often fitness classes and women use their appearance as motivation to workout. You want to fit into that dress, that bikini or those skinny jeans. You want a certain number on the scale or a certain clothing size. I am guilty of this myself, too. I remember many times using a mantra of “bikini, bikini, bikini” when doing a tough move to try to push myself through it.

Dana and Susana, the instructors for the Saturday classes, never use this type of motivation. They don’t tell you to push harder to look better – they push you to have more fun and to enjoy yourself. They push you to put more energy into the moves and let go. They make us do moves that make you feel sexy – often winking and adding in extra cheers to reaffirm that they think you look great.

Its not about how your weight or how your body looks, but how you feel and the experience of just moving and letting loose. It’s what I believe fitness should be about. These two ladies personify and bring to life what I want my attitude toward fitness to be.

When you look around the class, There are women of all colours, ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels. There are the older women who can’t quite get the steps right or keep up to the same extent, but you can tell they are just loving every minute of it and are doing what they can. There are more curvy girls like me, who sweat a lot and are panting by the end of class. There are amazing dancers who make the moves come to life, and there are those that have two left feet and just kinda do their own thing. But, none of it matters – We are all just there to dance, have fun and get fit. For just this one hour, we are all on the same team.

I have been going to these classes for about 3 months now and never once have I felt judged or ashamed. I am not a morning person, so I often look like I just kind of rolled out of bed (which is usually true) with no make-up and no put together workout clothes. I screw up. I sweat like crazy and probably stink at times (what can I say? Those routines get intense!). I laugh and sing out loud; I smile and cheer others on. I watch all these women enjoying themselves and I forget about whatever is going on outside of that moment.

It is one of the only places I feel safe around other women. I don’t have to compete or try to keep up. It’s okay if I screw up and miss a move. It’s okay if others do too. I’m not judging them and I don’t feel like they are judging me. It doesn’t matter as long as we all just keep moving and smiling.

After class, I left myself shed a few tears as I sat and wrote this post. I needed to acknowledge all these feelings and how much this class means to me. As I go through this fitness journey, it is important for me to share with you all the ups and downs – regardless of how weird and emotional they might be! I also wanted to write this to thank Goodlife Fitness for having women’s only locations and for creating a space where women like myself can work on being fit and healthy. And, most of all, I want to thank Dana and Susana for their weekly inspiration and energy. Thank you both for giving me something that I can’t give myself yet – permission to just be me; the safety to let everything go and feel beautiful. I look up to you both more than you know and you give me us all so much more than 45 minutes of Zumba each week. You give me a reason to smile and feel good about myself, which is worth more than any fitness goal.

I know this is a super sappy post and I probably sound a little crazy, but this is what my journey is all about. It’s not just about doing push-ups and getting to my goal weight – it’s about feeling strong, being happy, and liking what I see when I look in the mirror each day.

I know I am not there yet, but at least for a few hours each week I get to feel like getting there is possible.

See you next week. xoxo