So after failing to get to any kind of classes in Helsinki (where classes were cancelled because of the Midsummer holiday), London (where I was too busy eating & drinking with friends), or Barcelona (where even the instructors I exchanged emails with had incorrect times/locations on their websites), I was determined to make it a priority in Berlin.
As luck would have it, I found a dance studio that was a 7 minute walk from our hotel. Not only did they offer Zumba, but a lot of other interesting sounding classes like “Shimmy up” and “Burlazz!”. They were very responsive over email and even sent me a class schedule. Drop-in rates were a little pricey at €13.50, but I was really craving movement so I went to check it out. (And as it happens, you get two trial classes – one for €6 and a second for €8, so that was a nice surprise!)
Its a really nice facility. They have 4 studios and a small cafe where you can buy drinks, a lounge area, large changing rooms, and even showers. The dance studios are large with great floors, tons of mirrors, huge windows, and are obviously cleaned nightly (unlike my studio in SF, which I’m pretty sure was never cleaned). The only problem is you’re not allowed to have any windows open while music is playing, so every dance class also doubled as a sauna. It was so seriously sweaty (even with 2 fans) that someone mopped the floors after one Zumba class!
First up was Zumba with Jenny. She was supposedly one of the first instructors in Germany. Like almost every Zumba class I’ve ever been to, she came over and welcomed me as a new student, which was nice. And I didn’t have to worry about the language barrier since that was the last talking that happened. Jenny is a great dancer and I loved her routines, which were very dance-y and a lot of reggaeton. The down side was that she wasn’t much into cueing, which got pretty frustrating as a new student (and I’m a quick study when it comes to choreography).
She had 2 other men in her class, once of which was clearly studying to be an instructor and lead a song. (His cueing was actually pretty decent – you could tell he was doing an official Zumba routine and doing it exactly by the book.) He was friends with all the girls who ran over and greeted him with air kisses on the cheeks before and during class – obviously he’s the class celebrity/playboy and I loved watching him.
Despite the lack of cueing, it felt great to move again and I got a good workout (or certainly a good sweat).
The next day I went to a Dancehall class taught by the “German Dancehall Queen of 2010” (whatever that means). This class involved a lot more talking by the instructor… in German. I expected that might be the case, but given that Dancehall is pretty loose movement, I figured I’d just do my best to follow. (She came in late, so there was no chitchat or opportunity for me to tell her I didn’t speak German.)
She seems to do a new chorography each class so at least I was starting at the beginning with everyone else. A lot of it was just following along, but sometimes she’d stop us all and say some long list of instructions or crucial info about the choreography, followed by “Ok?”. Everyone would say “Ja!” and then the music would start and I’d be doing a totally different part of the routine from the rest of the class.
At one point, she had us in pairs doing some very fast arm movements that involved fist-bumping each other with our hands in the air (almost like a high five, but with fists). I just kept telling myself “Don’t punch this girl in the face. Don’t punch this girl in the face.” Thankfully, neither of us left with a black eye – success!
The class ended with a song that literally involved nothing but squats and lunges, which I figured was my punishment for not exercising enough lately.
Despite the language challenges, it was a really fun class and I’d totally go again. And there’s really no need to feel self-conscious since I’m only here for 3 days and can’t understand anything anyone is saying. It’s all very liberating – all I have to do is show up and have fun.
The final class was Zumba again, but a different instructor. She seemed to be new, at least to that studio, and wasn’t listed correctly on the schedule so I didn’t catch her name.
Her cueing was perfect so she was super-easy to follow. She tried to do the whole class as one long megamix of songs, but the studio got so hot she had to pause halfway through so we could open the windows for a couple minutes and get some air.
There was 1 older man in the class, who looked so stereotypically German I started to think of him as Grandpa Sprockets. He had white, closely cropped hair and wore black long pants, a black t-shirt, and all black workout shoes. He executed all of the movements with military precision and a kept a stern look on his face the whole time. He was right behind me, and quite the contrast to my happy expression and bouncy movements. Obviously, I loved him.
The instructor spoke in both German and English (for my benefit) and actually asked for feedback after class, which I thought was such a good idea. I wish I could have gone to more classes from her!
And speaking of stereotypes, there was a Crossfit gym on the second floor which I always passed on my way out. I couldn’t see anything but their snarling bear logo on the windows, but you could hear the loud grunts and shouts over the heavy metal music they were blasting. Heh.
So all in all, I’d say dance classes in Berlin were a success! If you find yourself in the area, check out the studio!