Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Now that I worked up my courage and went to a couple of Zumba classes at the fitness center, I decided I should learn more about it. Here is what I found out.
What exactly is Zumba? Google says: "An aerobic fitness program featuring movements inspired by various styles of Latin American dance and performed primarily to Latin American dance music."
How did Zumba get started? In the mid-1990’s 16-year-old fitness instructor Alberto "Beto" Perez in Cali, Columbia, forgot his music for an aerobics class he was about to teach, so he went out to his car and got a tape of his favorite Latin dance numbers and used it to do a salsa-like workout routine. His students liked it so much that he added it to his gym routines and named it "Rumbacize". Perez moved to Miami in 1999 and, when his students there were equally enthusiastic, he renamed the class “Zumba".
What does "Zumba" mean? Some say Zumba is just a fun word that sounds like Rumba. Others say Zumba is Colombian slang for “buzz like a bee” or “move very fast”.
How much is the Zumba business worth today? It’s the world’s largest branded fitness program. It’s worth over 400 million dollars.
How many people do Zumba? Zumba classes are currently taught at approximately 200,000 locations in 180 countries. About 15 million people participate.
How many Zumba classes are there in Cincinnati? Zumba.com lists over 280 Zumba classes in the Cincinnati metro area.
What dance styles are incorporated in Zumba? Salsa, merengue, samba, hip-hop, raggaeton, cumbia, soca, cha-cha, tango, mambo, and others. Also squats and lunges.
Are there different types of Zumba classes? There are nine different types of classes, designed for different ages and levels of exertion. For example, there are classes for children (Zumbatomic), classes for seniors (Zumba Gold), resistance training classes (Zumba Toning), classes in the water (Aqua Zumba), and circuit classes (Zumba in the Circuit).
How intense are Zumba classes? Classes usually last an hour. According to WebMD, Zumba is an interval workout, involving a medium intensity level. The classes move between high- and low-intensity dance moves.
What areas of the body does Zumba target? Many Zumba dance steps emphasize the hips and midsection, helping strengthen the core. Dance moves also help work the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Traditional Zumba doesn't target the arms, and it's not focused on back muscles.
How many calories does one burn? About 500 to 1000 in a one-hour class.
Does Zumba have health benefits? According to WebMD, Zumba helps weight loss, reduces blood pressure and bad cholesterol, increases good cholesterol, and lowers the risk of heart disease.
Do you need to be a good dancer? No dance experience or skills are necessary. In Zumba classes people don't have to move exactly like the instructor. It's more like club dancing where you move to the music in the way you want.
Do men do Zumba? The official line is that 20% of Zumba participants are men. However, instructors are more likely to estimate 5%. In general, men are less likely to participate in fitness groups, and that’s particularly true of dance fitness groups. Male instructors and participants are much higher in Latin countries where males are
encouraged to dance from an early age.
Can older people do Zumba? Because there are different class options, Zumba proponents claim that it is safe for all ages. Also a good thing about Zumba is that you can set your own pace, increasing or decreasing intensity in a way that works for you.
What kind of clothing should one wear to do Zumba? Just about anything as long as you can easily stretch in it. The company did launch a clothing line called Zumba Wear in 2007. Today Zumba clothing is an 80 million dollar business.
Do any famous people do Zumba? Here are some well-known Zumba-lovers: Jennifer Lopez, Jackie Chan, Madonna, Jordin Sparks, Vivica A. Fox, Natalie Portman, Olivia Wilde, Kirstie Alley, Emma Watson, Shakira, Victoria Beckham, Wyclef Jean, Toni Braxton, Rapper Pitbull, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Eve Longoria, Zooey Deschanel, Halle Berry.
Can I try doing Zumba at home? Along with DVD’s, there are tons of Zumba videos on YouTube. One website that offers “10 of the Best Zumba Workouts” is www.tone-and-tighten.com.
What if I want to do Zumba on my cruise? Royal Caribbean offers a cruise centered around Zumba dancing.
And what Zumba's slogan inspires us?: "Ditch the Workout -- Join the Party!”
www.acefitness.org, "Zumba Fitness: Sure It's Fun But is it Effective?";
www.confessions of a fitnessinstructor.com, "What to expect at your first Zumba class;"
www.livehealthy.chron.com, "What Is Zumba Exercise?”;
www.ranker.com, “26 Celebrities Who Zumba”;
www.southbayzumba.com, “5 Fun Facts About Zumba”;
www.sparkpeople.com, "All About Zumba Class";
www.stylecraze.com, "What is Zumba?";
www.thefactsite.com, “Facts About Zumba”;
www.tone-and-tighten.com, “10 of the Best Free Zumba Full-Length Video Workouts”;
www.zumba.com, "Learn about Zumba”
Sunday, May 14, 2017
If my mother (Doris L) were alive today, she would be 107. That’s hard to imagine. It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were all together, but Doris died at Marinette General Hospital on April 24, 1986. To the best of my knowledge, she uttered her last words to Peter and myself: “I’m grateful.” That sums up a lot of Doris’ nature. Here are some more memories that come to mind to me on Mother’s Day:
- Doris had four kids: David (7/21/37), Steven (2/27/41), Peter (6/9/45), Vicki (2/24/47).
- My mom was very pretty and full of fun. She was a teenager during the flapper era of the 1920’s, and I always thought that helped shape the course of her life.
- When I was about 4 I attended a community theater performance at the Menominee Opera House, and, when the bouncy tiger appeared on the stage, I hollered at the top of my voice, “That’s my mommy.” (Lots of laughter from the audience.)
- Doris and Grace Fernstrum took Sally F. and myself sledding on numerous occasions at the Tourist Information Lodge with its big hill.
- When we moved to the river Doris planted a luxurious garden along the west side of our lawn.
- Doris also planted a strawberry patch next to our driveway, and we gathered strawberries each morning to put on our cereal.
- She and Vic travelled around Menominee County, finding wildflowers along the roadside to dig up and transplant on our property.
- When the trillium first bloomed in the spring at Brewery Park, Doris made sure that each of her children in turn brought the flowers to Miss Elsie Guimond, our sixth grade teacher.
- Doris stocked a bird feeder outside our dining room window and kept a written list of all the birds she saw. When a red-winged blackbird appeared in our driveway, she called all the kids to come to the kitchen to see it.
- My mom was an excellent cook. Whitefish, pot roast, meatloaf, venison, duck, Swedish meatballs, and turkey are just some of the delicious highlights that come to mind. Also strawberry shortcake.
- All of our extended family came to our house on Xmas eve. My bachelor uncle Karl brought extravagant gifts for Doris, Aunt Millie, and Aunt Martha (dresses, jewelry, etc.) as well as for the children.
- Doris packed a picnic lunch for our family rowboat outings to Indian Island up the river.
- Doris had many close female friends: Jean O’Hara, Florence Caley, Ruth Mars, Nan Jacobsen, Margaret St. Peter, Jackie Burke, Margaret Worth, Martina Steffke, and lots of others. She and Vic entertained frequently: costume parties, art parties, poetry parties, jazz parties, and just plain parties. They had a wonderful network of friends.
- Doris was officially a member of the D.A.R., though she saw it as a pretty stodgy group and didn’t attend the meetings.
- My mother loved jazz. Her happiest moment that I can recall is when Louis Armstrong’s orchestra played at the Silver Dome, and Doris sat on the edge of the stage, just 3 or 4 feet from the master.
- My mom had a very deep voice which led to telephone callers frequently thinking that they had reached Mr. L. She also got a deep tan in the summer, and my father claimed, tongue in cheek, that she was part Navaho.
- After three boys, Doris was thrilled to have a girl in the family (my sister Vicki).
- Doris had a lot of aphorisms for her children: “Don’t give up, don’t give in”; “Straighten up and fly right”; “Eat your beans, Suzy”; and many more
- Doris was one of the best women golfers at Riverside Country Club, and she enjoyed horseback riding at the stables located at the intersection of Riverside Boulevard and Highway 577.
- Doris smoked through much of her adult life and wound up having surgery for lung cancer.
- She enjoyed drinking Silver Cream beer and chatting with house helper Hannah while Hannah did the ironing. Their story-telling often took up the full afternoon
- Doris also loved going to the hairdresser where she would catch up with the community gossip.
- Whenever we children went swimming, Doris sat in a lawn chair on the riverbank and kept a careful eye on us. We weren’t allowed to go in the rowboat without lifesavers.
- My mom loved our Irish setters, Mike and Micki. One time when the dogs got into a nasty fight, she tried to break it up and wound up with a deep gash on her arm.
- Mike fell through the ice on the river in late winter, and Doris crawled out on her stomach to rescue him.
- When my friend Marvin F. set a large box of kitchen matches on fire on our apartment living room floor, he was banished forever when my mother discovered the charred wood.
- As a youth, I thought my mother was crazy at times, but, later in life, I discovered all mothers get crazy at times. After one episode of particularly unruly children, I gave her a note that read, “Don’t give up, don’t give in — Try Wrecks-All” (a play on “Rexall”, our family drugstore name). Doris broke into laughter and felt much better.
- When my mom criticized my handwriting in ninth grade, I stopped writing in cursive for the rest of my life (except for my signature which is indecipherable).
- Doris was thrilled when Katja came for a visit during our sophomore year in college. She told her that she was the first girl I’d ever brought home (which, of course, was true).
- Most of all, my mother had a warm, rich, spontaneous laugh, and we heard that every day of our childhood.
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
We’ve lost a chum at the Cincinnati Zoo. After six years of duty as the zoo’s nanny for a wide variety of baby animals, Australian Shepherd Blakely is retiring. Blakely was recruited for his job when zoo staff visited a local dog shelter to find a dog who would be a gentle caretaker for other animals. Only eight months old at the time, Blakely fit the bill from the start.
The zoo’s executive director Thane Maynard explains: “When mom can’t take care of them, they need all the help they can get. In essence, Blakely is a nursery worker, helping interact and play with baby animals. It’s cute and fun, and yet in terms of those babies growing up, that socialization is an important thing.”
Blakely’s first charge was a tiny cheetah named Savanna. When Savanna’s brother died, her mother ignored her, and zookeepers put her in the nursery with Blakely. Blakely responded immediately in a nurturing way, letting Savanna climb all over him, snuggle, and play together.
When babies don’t know how to eat, Blakely dips his snout into a bowl of milk and lets the baby lick the milk off of his fur. As the babies get old enough to eat from a food bowl, Blakely teaches them to eat by going to the bowl first, leading the baby to run to it before their big competitor eats up the food. In his time at the zoo Blakely has taken care of newborns from numerous species: a skunk, cheetahs, a bat-eared fox, a warthog, a takin, an aardvark, brother wallabies, and a baby ocelot.
Because they were ignored by their mother, Blakely most recently has been taking care of the zoo’s three Malayan tiger cubs: Chira, Batari, and Izzy. Dawn Strasser, head of the nursery staff, explains: “Blakely is the adult in the room. He teaches them proper tiger etiquette by checking them when they’re getting too rough or aggressive. This is something that their human surrogates can’t do.” As the cubs have grown larger, they’ve outgrown the nursery and their nanny, moving to the Night Hunters building.
When Blakely’s not on duty, he frequently goes for a walk around the zoo with a staff member, and he’s just as friendly to little kids as he is to the zoo animals. Last year the City of Cincinnati proclaimed October 19 to be Blakely Day in the city. In retirement Blakely will go to live on a farm with nursery head, Dawn Strasser. However, if the occasion arises, he may be called back into nursery duty.
Wednesday, May 3, 2017
As you know, I’ve always been obsessive about collecting and ordering things. Usually these are material objects of some sort, but recently I’ve been collecting “messages” (rules, directions, commands, suggestions, etc.) that are printed on posters, placards, signs, cards, etc., in or near Ludlow Ave., the main street of our neighborhood business district. They’re a concrete reminder of the nonstop barrage of directive messages that we’re exposed to in our daily lives. Here’s my report.
If you’re taking a walk on Ludlow Ave.
And aren’t sure of just what to do
Simply read all the signs that are posted
Here, from my list, are a few:
- Wrong Way
- Buckle Up
- Beware of the Dog
- Please Have ID Ready
- No Littering, Loitering, Panhandling or Begging
- Prohibited: Bicycle Riding, Skateboarding, Rollerblading
- Press down hard on the handle
- DANGER: Hazardous Voltage, will cause death.
- Notice: All Backpacks and Large Purses are Subject to Search
- Sorry -- No Dogs Allowed
- Smoking causes lung cancer
- We request that you remove any hats, caps, sunglasses or hoods
- No weapons or firearms
- Children No Longer Allowed Unless Being Serviced!
- Don't Be A Butthead
All these rules, of course, are “Don’ts”
There are endless things one shouldn’t do
But you’ll also discover some “Do’s” on my street
Including some I never knew:
- Puppies Welcome
- Free Food / Free Drink
- Go Bearcats
- Increase mindfulness & serenity
- Fight to the Finish! Never Give In
- Manifest Your Exquisiteness
- Say Hello to Happy
- TRUST in YOUR beautiful, HOLY, Light-filled Divinity
- Today Is Going to Be Awesome
Walking on Ludlow is no easy task
There are thousands of rules that apply
I try my hardest to be correct
Though it does take some work to comply
There clearly are many more Don’ts than Do’s
They’re invented by people who lack smiles
The Do’s seem to come from more mellow folk
Who encourage alternative lifestyles
To manifest exquisiteness, I’d say, is the hardest
For one, I’ve lost touch with this trait
If I find it, how do I manifest it?
Do I even want to be in this state?
It used to be I felt free on my walks
But, with all of these rules, now I won’t
Though I’ve found one sign that does ease my mind:
“You Don’t Need to Believe –
“It’s Better if You Don’t”
Monday, April 24, 2017
When I was a kid, the term “Yooper” hadn’t yet come into existence. As far as I can tell, it entered mass circulation in the early 1970’s. Once out there, however, it crystallized a lot of people’s life experiences, providing a shared identity based upon place. Like being a Texan or a New Yorker or a Hoosier. A narrow definition of “Yooper” simply means somebody who lives or grew up in and identifies with the U.P. (Michigan’s Upper Peninsula). However, the meaning of the word is a lot broader, with associations to geography, climate, population, economy, rural/urban context, the natural environment, lifestyles, attitudes and values. I tried to capture some of what “Yooper” means to me in the poem below. Everybody’s associations to being a Yooper are to some degree unique, but this is my version.
Being a Yooper
Driving north on M-35
Green Bay is just to the right
Blue-green water glistening in the sun
Tipped by the whites of the waves
To the left, pine forests stretch for miles
A six-point buck pauses, darts across the road
Lunch stop at Paddy’s Bar, Cedar River
Butter burgers that melt in your mouth
Soon we’ll be in Escanaba
I grew up in the Upper Peninsula
The people there call themselves Yoopers
Yoopers are those who live in the U.P.
While Downstaters are known as Trolls
Trolls, of course, are beings who live under the bridge
The Trolls, we believe, are envious of Yoopers
So we let them cross the bridge in the month of July
The U.P., in large part, is a wilderness
Its forests cover millions of acres
Pine and spruce, cedar, maple and oak
Here a pristine lake, there a waterfall
A Great Blue Heron skimming over the pond
In hidden places a bear or a moose
My home town is named Menominee
“The Land of the Wild Rice Eaters”
Nine thousand, the U.P.’s fourth largest city
One stoplight, one high school, eight taverns
The Marina, Henes Park, the Interstate Bridge
It’s spread for three miles along the bay shore
People in Menominee are friendly and kind
They’re fanatic about the Green Bay Packers
Strong passion for boating and sailing
For hunting and fishing and camping
For Jim Beam whiskey, creamed herring, and pasties
Our family lived out in the country
In a house built of Norway pine
We spent summer days in the river
Splashing and swimming, diving off our raft
Searching for golden doubloons in the mud
Backstroking across the Pig Island
Our treehouse was in the great oaks
The willow was best for climbing
Steven and I had daily acorn fights
We raced barefoot on the gravel driveway
Searched for antlers in the woods
Shot at tin cans with the twenty-two
And played night basketball all winter long
Deer came to feed in our garden
There were porcupine nests in the maples
Huge pine snakes lived next to our chimney
The chipmunks stole seeds from the feeder
At dusk the snapping turtles swam by
U.P. winters were harsh
Sometimes zero, even ten below
Our cheeks got red, our noses burned
The snowdrifts reached three or four feet
My father towed our toboggan behind his car
Icicles stretched from the eaves to the ground
Snowbound, the county road would close, vacation time
At sixteen we went to hunting camp
Our dads played cards and drank Silver Cream beer
We rose at five to take our posts
Freezing, I sat motionless for hours
Waiting for a wayward deer
In high school we borrowed the family car
And cruised the Twin City loop
Drag-raced at the stoplight
Waited at the drawbridge
The girls walked in pairs along Ogden Ave.
Waiting for the boys to pick them up
Root beer at the A&W
Perhaps the 64 drive-in
Menominee was a blue collar town
Many grownups worked with their hands
College degrees were infrequent
And there wasn’t much gap between rich and poor
All of the teens went to Menominee High
Every one of us, I’d say, was a Yooper
I’m lucky I grew up in the U.P.
It’s a thoroughly remarkable place
Perhaps we were lacking in big city smarts
No ballet, museums, or opera
But people were warm and honest and caring
And as kids we were free and secure
Life was filled with high adventure
Who could ask for more than that?
Saturday, April 15, 2017
One of my various regrets is not taking up dancing in any concerted fashion during my first sixty years or so. Katja and I started doing ballroom dance classes at the start of the new millenium, and it was a revelation. Then, when I retired, I joined my Tuesday night line dancing class, and that’s become the high point of my week. We got a new instructor in January, and she’s been posting YouTube videos of various dance numbers (e.g., My Pretty Belinda). The videos have led me to practice a lot more during the week. At first I was doing this in front of the computer on our second floor, but Katja complained that I was shaking the pot holder that’s mounted to our kitchen ceiling. So I moved my practice sessions downstairs to the foyer, playing music from the Solid Gold Oldies channel on our cable TV.
Our fitness center also offers Zumba classes, and I’ve had my eye on that for some time. I’ve been nervous about it though. Finally I asked Google: “Should I do zumba if I’m quite old?” Google’s first piece of medical advice was a blurb about an 86-year-old great grandmother who does zumba every morning. That was definitely reassuring, and, when Katja went to a fancy party last week, I decided I should try the 7 p.m. Zumba class. I told the instructor that it was my first class and I wasn’t sure I would stay the whole time. He said that I should take a break whenever I felt like it. There was only one other man in the class (one of my line dancing compatriots), and a majority of the women looked to be in their thirties or forties. I did stick it out for the full class. It is much more aerobic than line dancing, and I worked up a good sweat. I was pretty awkward and confused compared to my experienced classmates, but I was able to follow the movements enough that it gave me hope. I plan to go back next week.
The dinner party that Katja went to while I was zumba-ing was one we were both invited to, but I talked my way out of it. It was in the fanciest section of town and was held in honor of the new music director of the Cincinnati Chamber Music Orchestra. It sounded overwhelming to me. Katja was sad and hurt that I didn’t want to go, but she RSVP’d for just herself. It turned out to be lots of wealthy philanthropic supporters of the Symphony and the Opera. Katja, who does substantially better at most social occasions than I do, had a good time. She said afterwards that it would have been awful for me. I think she was sympathetic to my social deficiencies.
Along with line dancing, my poetry writing class takes up a chunk of my spare time each week. We get a homework assignment each Tuesday, and I work on it all week long, usually writing two or three poems instead of the single poem that is assigned. I owe my poetry writing style to Miss Herscheid’s fourth grade class at Washington Grade School. We learned to write poems in rhyme and end each poem with the phrase, “The End”. I’m the only person in my current class who writes all his poems in rhyme with a fixed meter (or rhythm). In fact, as far as I can tell from reading lots of contemporary poems on the Internet, I’m the only person in the world who writes rhyming poems (except for children’s authors who are inspired by Dr. Seuss’s style). Hopeful of expanding my repertoire, I’m currently trying to write a poem in free verse about “Being a Yooper.” I have to admit that composing in free verse is much more free-flowing than my struggles to create rhymes. But I’m sure that either method keeps blood circulating in my brain.
I was working on my Yooper poem several days ago when all of a sudden our newish Mac computer went blooey. The word-processing screen is normally white, but now it was alternating between green, blue, and lavender, and all of the visual images that appeared on the screen were mottled and distorted. I went into a state of shock, attributing the problem to powerful viruses. I checked with a knowledgeable friend, and she said it sounded like to monitor was dying. Fortunately Katja had bought an extended service contract, and I called the Apple support number. The technician had me try several things with the keyboard and the power button, but none of them seemed to help. He finally scheduled an appointment for me to bring the machine into the store. An hour later, however, all the problems disappeared. I didn’t know if the technician’s suggestions had solved the problem, but I’m relieved and am holding my breath.
We’ve been watching a lot more TV since late January. I think it’s a matter of retreating into fantasy in order to escape from horrifying political news. Nonetheless, we seem to be drawn to hair-raising politically-oriented programs involving Washington dysfunction, conspiracies, Middle Eastern and domestic terrorists, Russian spies, and national catastrophes. Our favorites are Homeland, Designated Survivor, The Americans, and 24 Legacy. All of these programs have become jumbled together in my mind, and I can’t keep straight which good guys go with which bad guys (or even who the good guys are). It’s like there is just one single program: “24 American Homeland Survivor.” I do have to say that these fictional events are more dramatic than our relatively mundane lives.
That’s all the news from Ludlow Ave. It’s a beautiful spring day, and I’m going to go and get some Fitbit points.
Saturday, April 8, 2017
Growing up on the Menominee River, we were well aware of the lore of the nineteenth century logging industry in our region. The best-known legends, of course, were about Paul Bunyan who roamed Northern Michigan and Wisconsin. Here are some of the Paul Bunyan tales, set to poetry.
The Ballad of Paul Bunyan
The most famous figure in my home town
Was Paul Bunyan, the North’s lumberjack
He dug the Menominee River
He could level ten pines with one whack
Paul Bunyan was born in Menominee County
He weighed over two hundred pounds
It took eight storks to deliver him
Six wet-nurses made daily rounds
Each time baby Paul rolled over in his sleep
He would flatten an acre of trees
His parents built a raft in the midst of Green Bay
But Oconto would flood when he’d sneeze
As a child Paul Bunyan was not only strong
He was faster than a lightning arc
He could turn off his light and leap into bed
Before his room even got dark
Paul found a blue ox in a snowdrift
Took him home and young Babe grew so fast
A crow took an hour to fly twixt Babe’s horns
When he burped, buildings crumbled from the blast
Babe could pull anything Paul asked of him
For example, their crooked logging road
Babe pulled on that road till it straightened out
And that new road carried ten times the load
Babe was in need of a watering hole
Paul Bunyan dug a hole with his axe
Today it’s the Lake called Superior
Pictured Rocks were formed by Babe’s tracks
Paul and Babe took a hike through Minnesota
Their footprints in the earth were so big
Those depressions became the 10,000 lakes
And Babe drank them up in one swig
A log jam blocked the Menominee River
Paul poked Babe’s derriere with a spear
Babe swished his tail and broke up the jam
And the river stayed clear for a year
The axe men in Paul’s camp were seven feet tall
And each had the same name of Sven
When Paul called out “Sven” the whole crew came running
Dragging sled-loads of logs from the glen
Sourdough Sam made pancakes at their camp
His griddle covered thirteen full acres
Twenty-five men with bacon on their feet
Greased that griddle to help out the bakers
Paul Bunyan enjoyed a pipe after dinner
And he blew his smoke far away
It floated westward over the hills
Creating the smog in L.A.
The winter of ’07 was so brutally cold
The axe men’s words froze in mid-air
Those words remained frozen until the spring thaw
Then they heard melting chatter everywhere
No one is certain where Paul is today
Some think he is at the North PoleBringing Babe for a leisurely stroll
They say he returns to the U.P. each May
They say he returns to the U.P. each May