It was a roller coaster of physical activity for one hour; emotional turbulence and intellectual growth. It all happened in a Zumba class. No kidding.
Ten minutes into the class, the gravity of what I was doing hit me like a ton of sneakers. I am looking at myself in the mirror that covers the front wall of the Zumba class. I was at the New York Sports Club in Scarsdale, NY. I look pretty good. I'm wearing a three-quarter length pink top over my black tank top. The short, thin black flounce skirt adds the girly touch over my black leotards, and my black sneakers are sleek not bulky. Soon enough I will remove the pink top to cool down a bit. But for now, I still look pretty good; my bangs are not yet drenched with sweat!
Zumba is a high intensity workout. And this instructor, Elida, has to be the most energetic Zumba leader. She is usually at the front, but also moves around the room, guiding everyone to be the best they can be.
So here I am in my first Zumba class, with 23 other women. Plus one man, a bit stocky and hardly keeping up.
I finally took my daughter Kelly up on her offer to be her guest. She takes three Zumba classes per week and raves about Elida. I had to see first hand how good Elida is. I also got to be with my daughter, as her "female" parent.
Kelly introduced me after the class to a few classmates and we chit chatted. It felt real good being accepted by the others as a woman, but more importantly by my daughter Kelly. At 28, she is wiser, less judgmental and more accepting than most people twice her age. Plus she is a great dancer, and has been all her life.
I was tempted to pull out my iPhone from my pocketbook and take a short video clip and a few photos to memorialize the event, but thankfully I shunned the thought. Doing so would have made several people uncomfortable and embarassed Kelly. To give you an idea about the catchiness of Zumba, check out Beto Perez and Mara with "Crazy in Love" in this youtube videoclip:
So here I am, dancing along with the songs such as Shakira's "Waka Waka," Pitbull's "Hotel Room," "Zumbe Zumbe Zumbe ah" or Kelly's favorite "My Name is Sheila." Don Omar has a lot of Zumba hits. Popular songs like "Crazy in Love," "Turn Up the Music (Chris Brown) and "Gangam Style" keep you motivated.
Many of the steps seem Latin, like salsa, meringue and cha cha. I'm catching on okay, and probably following about 80% of the steps, some intricate and most very fast. I still cannot believe how good it feels to watch myself in the mirror. Finally, I'm living fully as a woman.
It's been two years that I have been living full-time as a female, and my family, friends and even my clients (I am a CPA and financial advisor) accept me as Fran now, no more as Frank. Over the last two years, I've been feminizing and have been through cycles of intensity of my femininity, I guess like a girl in her teens goes through.
I'm finally settling into a look and feel of a person I am comfortable being. And dancing as that person is such an awesome experience, bringing into reality many of the aspirations I had years ago only in the fantasy of daydreams. I feel truly blessed.
I look over to the other girls, from 18 to one woman who is 81, and feel very comfortable being one of them. I look like them. I move like them. And over these many months I'm learning to think and feel like them. Or so I believe.
At about 30 minutes into the class, I left for a few minutes to buy a bottle of water from the machine outside the room. I wondered to myself how I would be able to last 30 more minutes and nearly gave up. My vigor was waning. But I psyched myself out. I reminded myself I did much more strenuous and difficult things in my life. And now as my true self, Fran, I need to complete this class. And I did not want to disappoint my daughter. So I pushed, and sure enough my second wind came.
In fact, I found the rest of the class exhilarating, perhaps like a runner's high. I started to focus on my steps in order to get them right, but also I more astutely concentrated on my feminine moves and being as graceful as I could. My long hair that day was frizzier than I would have liked. My black leotards, short skirt and tank top were not as flattering of my figure as they could have been. But overall, I loved the experience!
After the class, I went up to Elida and thanked her for leading so well. Kelly came up and joined the conversation, mentioning that I was her parent, and then she said "father," and Elida was surprised. Elida said she did not realize I was transgender. It was a complement that was icing on the cake. Well actually, that's an inappropriate metaphor for an experience in a fitness center. Elida telling me she thought I was a woman was like getting a standing ovation after dancing and singing on a Las Vegas stage with Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, Rhiana and Madonna.
I'm going back to Zumba. I'm hooked on the feeling!. And for those of you that have read my column, especially the one about my comedy obsession, you know that there is much more Zumba to come!