The pulsating percussion and laconic Latin rhythm of the music resonating on the basketball
court caused passersby to pause and consider finding a place among the hundreds
who reliably show up for ZUMBA class at the gym each week. Some, whose interest
had been solicited, decided to accept the invitation to “Join the Party” and
try a hip-shaking sixty minutes of moves both familiar and foreign. For me, the
majority of the moves were indeed familiar as I am one of many who have to get
my ZUMBA fix at least three times each week. For the lady who carved out a
couple feet behind me, the choreography was foreign as she had not attended
class in more than six months.

“I love your outfit,” she said to me, as we waited for the energetic instructor to start the

“Thanks,” I said, quickly glancing down to see that my day’s workout attire consisted of
bright, plaid spandex pants and a funky top to match.

“You always wear the cutest clothes,” she continued. “I remember the last time I was here,
about six months ago, you wore a red ruffled tennis skirt that was just perfect
for this class,” she smiled.

I remembered that skirt. It was one that I always enjoyed pulling out of the closet in the
summer as it seemed to afford a little less self-conscious shaking in class
with the ruffles strategically placed over the areas that deliver the most

“You have a good memory,” I replied. “Where have you been the past few months?” I asked.

The lady rolled her eyes in disgust as she recounted the busy schedule that had
prevented her from working out for more than 180 days. Among her list of
excuses for not being able to exercise for half a year, were: menopause,
summer, fatigue, depression, car trouble, vacations, and of course… simply not
having enough time.

“I hope I’m able to lose some of this weight I’ve gained,” the lady said, pinching her
belly as she spoke. “I’d love to be your size,” she said, observing my body with a quick glance that started from my ball cap
and ended at my Nike shoe laces. “You have the prettiest figure,” she complimented.

“Thank you,” I said. “Physical fitness is very important to me, and fortunately, I really enjoy it.”

“Do you have kids?” she asked.

“No, I don’t.” I replied.

A knowing smile washed over her face as though the answer to a sixty year old mystery had
just been disclosed. She nodded her head with a new confidence and probably
with another excuse added to her well-established list before she said, “Well, that’s why you have such a nice figure! If I didn’t have four kids, I’d probably look like you do.”

I was a bit perplexed, somewhat offended and sufficiently amused. Never mind the two hours each day I devote to
exercise. And please, don’t allow my strict nutrition to enter the equation of consideration when it comes to being physically fit. One may as well dispose of
the discipline it takes to get up at 5:00 a.m. on mornings when a workout will fit in at no other hour too. The only rational reason I could possibly be in
great shape in the ZUMBA lady’s eyes, was because I have no children.

Thankfully, the instructor interrupted my clustered emotions and collection of responses
before they could spew from my childless lips.

“Is everyone ready for a great workout,” she asked.

I laughed to myself as I thought, “Why workout when I can keep a great figure by simply
continuing to live childfree?”

Mary Marcia Brown is an author and founder of Studio Fitness and the PACE Personal Training
Certification program. Find out more about PACE by visiting

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and read Mary Marcia’s Women Without Children electronically or in paperback