When I’m having one of these days (or at least complaining at the level to where it seems like I’m having one) my mom likes to remind me of the children’s book “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”
Other than serving as a prime example of the overuse of adjectives, I can’t think of a specific point that my mom is making when she references this book. Maybe I’m also very liberal with my use of adjectives when I’m having a bad day.
What I do know is that gestures of kindness, no matter how small, seem heightened when one is having a bad day. I was experiencing one such “terrible, horrible no-good” day one Tuesday evening right around Halloween. Despite my strong inclination to go straight home from work, sit on the couch, watch TV and eat something with high sodium content, I managed to convince myself to go straight to a Cardio Hip Hop class instead.
I’ve been a huge fan of Zumba for over two years. Whatever your perception is of Zumba – that it’s for older people (not true), that it’s exclusively female (it’s not, but it is mostly women shaking their hips and other body parts – guys, if you were smart you’d be there in a second) – I would say unequivocally that I haven’t found a form of exercise that I enjoy more.
In the three months between when I graduated college and when I started my first job, I went to a Zumba class almost every day. These days, due to the fact that I’m a card-carryin’ member of the workforce, I’m not so fortunate, and make it only once or twice a week to LA Dancefit in Westwood.
This studio in particular, and Zumba in general, is essentially a party without the alcohol or pressure to impress anyone. Women and men of all ages, shapes and sizes do Zumba, and the focus is always on having fun and getting the best workout you can, not on perfecting the moves or following the routine to a T.
On this Tuesday, I was especially looking forward to my evening class, at least once I convinced myself that even though I was tired and stressed, I would feel better if I went to the class. I left work at 6:45 and arrived at the studio at 7:15 for the 7:30 class.
I entered the changing room with my bag of workout clothes only to find that I had left my gym shoes at home, half an hour away. All I had with me were heeled ankle boots. I enjoy Zumba a lot, but I do acknowledge that going to one class probably isn’t worth the tradeoff of breaking my neck.
Crestfallen, I walked out of the dressing room in my workout top, jeans and boots. I approached the front desk to ask the women working there to cross my name off the sign-up sheet that I’d filled out just moments before.
“I forgot my workout shoes,” I explained. They were sympathetic but unfortunately didn’t have any extras on hand.
I walked out the door of the studio as the rest of the Zumba-goers filed in, basking in my own self-pity.
Then I heard a voice behind me.
“You need shoes? I have an extra pair.”
I turned and found Tom Cruise from Risky Business.
OK, it was actually the class instructor, Jhon, in a Halloween costume. Another bonus of dance exercise classes – what other forms of exercise invite working out in seasonal costumes?
I have no idea how he heard me when I told the women at the front desk that I didn’t have shoes. I suppose he could have been standing there but I don’t remember seeing him. He seemed to appear out of nowhere. We briefly tried to figure out the conversion between men and women’s shoes sizes until he decided to just grab his extra shoes so I could try them.
I went back to the dressing and slipped on my borrowed Zumba shoes. They were a little big, but that couldn’t have mattered less to me. I was so grateful for this act of kindness from someone who I had never exchanged words with, who couldn’t have had any personal stake in my taking his class that night (there were probably over 50 people there already).
Not only did I enjoy the class even more than usual, but I left in a much better mood, Jhon’s gesture having given me better perspective on the rest of my day.
I handed the shoes back to him after class.
“Did they work?” He asked, as I thanked him profusely. “Glad to see you here.”
“They were great,” I responded. “You made my day.”
The moral of the story: you never know what kind of day that someone is having. If you have the opportunity to lend a hand to someone (or a pair of shoes), it may not seem like a big deal to you, but it could make a huge difference in that person’s day.
Oh and also:. don’t forget your shoes when you go work out.
By Kathleen Toohill
- “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” – by Kate Taney