Today I went to a zumba class, and it was actually excellent.
Last month, through links to links, the BIWC (Bishkek International Women’s Club) popped up on my facebook sidebar. I’d never heard of it, but joined, and attended the February event where I was surprised to find about 60 other expat women, some professionals in the development sector, some Army wives or embassy wives or volunteer doctors running medical clinics in the city. And, like me, it seems a lot of these women sometimes have trouble figuring out what to do in a day. Bishkek is limited. One woman I talked to had been here with her (embassy-employed) husband for a year-and-a-half. Being originally from Armenia, she spoke fluent Russian. She had experience in the development sector. And yet she had just found a job with USAID at a local salary (read: not much). (*I know I’ve mentioned this before, but there aren’t a lot of jobs for expats in Bishkek. Unless you are willing to teach English for $600/month, don’t come here expecting to find a job, even if you have experience or speak the language). Most of the women are housewives, at least for the duration of their Bishkek stay. And as such, they’ve created an entire calendar of events to keep them busy during the day. Photography classes, cooking classes, art classes, Ladies’ night, play days for kids, coffee on Friday, yoga, and… zumba.
Having never tried this before, and needing a bit of an end-of-the-week break (just finished the draft of the language textbook I’ve been working on since last April! In the middle of creating a social media dialogue platform for an iNGO…), I contacted one of the BIWC members and took a taxi over to Terra Sport, where classes are held ever Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9-10.
There are apparently four places in Bishkek that offer zumba taught by a total of three trained instructors (list here). Our class had nine people and two instructors (Veronika and Svetlana), which was great because they switched off between songs and gave a lot of individual instruction. Apparently they teach one set of songs every few weeks – just when the class participants are getting familiar with them they switch up the mix and introduce new material. Both instructors speak a decent amount of English.
I don’t do a lot of cardio, but I’m fairly in shape, and I was still sweating by the middle of the class. The instructors were enthusiastic (and helpful! they even did a de-briefing on some of the new moves after class), and everyone else in the class had these exhausted-happy smiles on their faces as they wiped off on the changing room.
Location: Terra Sport (4 мкр.14/1, ул. Карла Маркса/Койбагарова/back in the warren of soviet apartment blocks on the East side of Karl Marx st, just South of Axunbaeva) on MWF; QSI School Tuesday and Thursday (ул. Тыныстанова 14А / Ахунбаева)
Time: 9-10 am MWF, 7:15-8:15pm TTh
Cost: 250/single class; 1700 som/month for 8 classes; 2000 som/month for 12 classes
Bring: Water, flexible sports shoes, leggings or loose pants, non-restrictive fitness top