Colombians dancing their way to health!

Irma, Mario’s sister, is very enthusiastic about sports, which sets her quite apart from her little brother.. So, one day, she started talking enthusiastically about some aerobic dance class and then concluded that we should go together to ‘Rumba’. Rumba is an aerobic dance class that is loosely based on various Colombian dance styles with African and Caribbean origins. Think of it as a very energetic and kind of brutal aerobics..

We arrived at the classroom 3 minutes late and there was already a long queue of people waiting to get the best spots of the classroom. To my surprise, majority of the students were already greying and a lot appear to be above 50s. Don’t get me wrong I am not an ageist, but I was just astounded by the enthusiasm of Colombia’s older generation in acquiring good health through sports. It’s not something I have seen elsewhere.. I turned to Irma, ‘What have you brought me to? Are we really coming for ‘rumba’? Or maybe we have come for geriatrics!? And why are there so many people!?’

It was a very large group of people for a mid-week 10am class, somewhere between 60-70. We were all standing right next to one and other in the confined space, and had to make sure that we coordinated our movements, otherwise knocking off each other was for sure gonna happen. To my astonishment, the teacher seemed to think everyone already knew the moves, so she was simply calling out rhythms while dancing, expecting the students to follow.

The class was supposed to be a set of energetic dance moves. But when it came to my attempt to move elegantly to the Merengue tune, I just looked like someone who was marching back and forth, left and right in steps. 

When I was supposed to be shaking my shoulders frenetically to Mapalé, I looked instead like I was having an epileptic shock trying to throw up. 

When I was supposed to be shaking my ass back and forth while making steps to Cumbia music, I simply looked like I was gyrating uneasily.. 

To make it worse, the dance moves also involved in moving your arms left, right and center, so in the Vallenato moments, I looked like a robot that had got the wrong software, moving my limbs involuntarily trying to follow and going in the opposite direction of everyone else! 

The class turned out to be extremely exhausting, strenuous and really sweat you out, which was a surprise considering the age curve of the attendees was slanting towards high numbers.. We didn’t get any breaks, with the only interludes within the one hour class coming from the instructor who was screaming at the top of her lungs on the microphone, trying to enhance the vibe (but not our understanding) of the class.. In the end it wasn’t as bad as it had started off, and it managed to increase my dopamine level, so it’s really great for everyone especially those who suffer from depression!


  1. […] and shake their shoulders as if they haven’t got collar bones. I have personally attempted a Mapalé at the carnival. Mapalé is a Colombian dance style with tribal influence. And I tell you it’s […]

  2. im starting a mapale club here…i’ll become a millionaire soon

  3. […] possible consolation is that Colombia may not necessarily come up top if the hours they spend dancing are included in this piece of stats. But then this may only be applicable to 10% of the population […]

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