Because I do this every week, people naturally assume I love writing. It sounds romantic, but unfortunately, it isn’t true. Generally, writing is sitting alone in a room staring at a blank page waiting for my muddled brain to kick in (while everyone else is outside having fun). Frankly, the only time that I love writing is after I’m done.

The same goes for exercise. I love having worked out. As in the past tense. As in it’s finally over. But my friend, Margie, swears by the latest exercise craze sweeping the country and Santa Monica — Zumba dancing. She takes classes at Memorial Park and describes Zumba as a cross between lap dancing and salsa (the dance, not the hot sauce).

On YouTube, “Zumba” brings up a slew of videos of sexy people having an unbelievably invigorating time working out. Contrasting that, you could search YouTube all day and never see a single video of writers having unbelievably invigorating times writing.

According to Wikipedia, “Zumba workout mixes body sculpting movements with dance steps derived from cumbia, merengue, salsa, reggaeton, hip hop, mambo, rumba, flamenco, calypso and Salsaton.” (Just typing that sentence tires me out.) Zumba targets the glutes, legs, arms, the heart and abs. (Did someone say “abs?”)

Somehow the country is consumed with having six-pack abs. (Personally, I’d be happy with a two-pack.) And yet at the same time we’re addicted to fast food. Go figure. Well, Margie says that, after only five Zumba classes, she already has tighter abs.

Indicative of this abs obsession is the video “8 Minute Abs,” which has sold millions of copies. Comedian Harland Williams, in “There’s Something About Mary,” played a hitchhiker/killer who made a video that would blow “8 Minute Abs” out of the water. “7 Minute Abs!” (If you didn’t like it, he’d send the extra minute for free.)

Tiring of research, with my photographer friend, Roy, I decided to check out the Zumba class in person. I immediately noticed of the 20 students, only two were men. I like those odds. (Just when you think I can’t get any shallower, I sink to the occasion.)

Also, the teacher, Melissa Zugell is, and forgive the technical term, a major hottie! (Whoops, I just repeated the shallow thing.) Meanwhile, everyone in the class was having a ball. A perspiration-soaked ball, to be sure, but the enthusiasm was contagious.

I didn’t join in because I can’t dance to save my life. (OK, maybe then.) Put it this way: in the movie “Best in Show,” Eugene Levy played Gerry Fleck who had two left feet. Literally! Compared to me, Gerry would be Fred Astaire.

Melissa says that in all her years of teaching Zumba she’s heard the “I can’t dance” excuse a hundred times. She swears that students get the hang of Zumba within the first two classes. My dancing skills, or lack thereof, would definitely put that theory to a test.

Melissa’s fall schedule starts on Sept. 17. The classes are on Thursdays at the Memorial Park Gym from 6:30 p.m. — 7:30 p.m. Registration began Aug. 5 for Santa Monica residents and begins Aug. 12 for non-residents. Register online at: Or walk in to the Ken Edwards Center, 1527 Fourth Street, room 101.

Every week in this column I’m privileged to be able to voice my opinions. In return, I try to provide my readers with a few laughs. That said, if one day I muster the courage to try Zumba, and you happen to be there, I’d appreciate it if you could refrain from laughing.

Jack can be reached at

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