The One Where I Try Zumba

April 19, 2011 10:29 am7 commentsViews: 74

Half an hour into my first zumba class, I looked like this:


My face was red, my hair was sweat-soaked, and if I hadn’t taken my glasses off, they would have been fogged up.

But, I was also really happy, happier than I’ve ever been in an aerobics class. That’s because zumba doesn’t feel at all like working out. Everything about it – the moves, the throbbing salsa and merengue music, the neon green-clad instructor – felt more like being in the club than in a church gym.

That’s not to say it was easy. I think I’m in pretty good shape (5 hours of weekly roller derby will do that), but zumba was challenging, mostly because it requires so much movement to keep up. The instructor, University of Memphis student David Quarles, seemed to have an endless reserve of energy, constantly running and bouncing and shaking.

David told me that each hour-long zumba class burns between 800 and 1200 calories. The moves that are used work to tone muscles (and have the side benefit of also working in any sort of dance party situation you may find yourself in).

St. John's Zumba Class, Memphis, Tenn.

Once I let got of my fear of looking silly, the moves were a lot of fun. I’ve never had a workout that involved unleashing my inner Shakira. Until zumba, I didn’t know I had an inner Shakira.

The Wednesday night zumba Class at St. John’s attracts all kinds. There were giggling teenage girls, young professionals, older women and two middle aged men that, while I admire their bravery, looked completely lost on the hip shakes. And in zumba, there are a lot of hip shakes.

The St. John’s class is open to the public and costs $5 per session. It runs from 6:30 – 7:30 every Wednesday night in the church’s gym. If you’ve got specific questions before you shake it, contact instructor David Quarles.



  • I love Kim Hawkins class Monday and Thursday at 6:15 at Shady Grove Presbyterian if you’re looking for an East Memphis option. I’ve been going for almost two years!

  • Lots of rumblings about St. John’s zumba and Shady Grove Presbyterian for all things zumba! I’ve been to the Quince YMCA location for a class as well-it’s a fun challenge!

  • Chris Thompson

    I am one of the middle aged men referred to in the article. I may not be Justin Timberlake but there are not many Jennifer Lopezs in the classes either. Besides I enjoy it and I have lost 13+ pounds.

  • Hi Chris,

    I think it’s awesome that you’re out there doing it. I’m definitely no J. Lo – and the class’ lack of pretension was why I had a great time. Congrats on the weight loss!


  • What is the price at St. Johns and Shady Grove Presbyterian and any other locations in East Memphis near Germantown or in Germantown….

  • I recommend calling the individual churches and asking. Most of them have a drop-in rate that’s less than $20.

  • Shannon Little

    Where is St John's? I googled it and there's a St John's Orthodox, St John's Episcopal, and several others. I want to try the Wed night class. 

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