Now I know why there seem to be a lot of people enthusiastic about Zumba Fitness classes. It’s an hour’s worth of nonstop dancing.

Me, I had to stop a couple of times to catch my breath, towel off and take a swig of water. If the clock were working in the fitness room it’s likely I would have bailed out halfway through, thinking I’d done enough. But it wasn’t, and I ended up staying the whole time. Ah, psychology …

 Usually when I work out, I do my aerobics portion on the elliptical for about 20-25 minutes, then it’s on to the resistance machines. This morning I did Zumba, and had just enough energy left to hit the machines.  Most of the women in the class went home, but a couple hit the ellipticals. I have no idea where they found the strength. The last thing I wanted was even more aerobic exercise.

My heart rate maxed out about five minutes into the class and remained high all the way through my strength routine, so I know it was a great workout. That, and the amount of sweat.  Is it wrong for me to consider my sweat-stained shirt a badge of courage?

Now, I thought I was pretty coordinated. I swear I have rhythm. But in that class … Let’s just say I was glad my back was to the large window through which dozens could observe my flailing about and other antics. I tried not to be self-conscious, but I was, especially while attempting salsa and merengue moves. Still, I just had to let all that baggage go – and that’s what it is, really, mental baggage. I’ve never seen anyone there make fun of someone else, no matter their size. And if they do, so what?

Two of the walls were mirrored, but I was careful not to watch myself. One day, I’ll work up the nerve. Today was not the day.

I didn’t know Zumba was that big of a deal until I looked it up on the Web. It has its own website and clothing line, and classes are taught in more than 50,000 places. Go figure.

The aerobics portion of my workout routine is usually the most boring, so Zumba’s a great alternative. I prefer morning workouts, and it’s offered twice a week.

Post-workout, I did as promised and took a tepid shower with fragrance-free, mild Dove soap. My rash – known as cholinergic urticaria – had been dormant, but rose to the occasion in the cool shower, like goosebumps. Fortunately, it didn’t itch. I did the cool shower/soap thing last time it appeared, but I was on steroids then and it went away. Now, am praying it will soon go away forever, sans meds. There’s a good chance it will as the days get warmer and my hypersensitive skin gets used to regular workouts. Dr. Bean suggests I take the antihistamine Singulair. I’ll give it a try. I’ll give anything a try.

Meanwhile, my gym’s Biggest Loser Challenge started yesterday. I haven’t heard anything, but I did get weighed (boo) and measured (hiss) Saturday by Leslie Moraitis (the trainer I had to give up for financial reasons). Three weeks ago, when she did my body fat percentage, it was right at 50 percent. Saturday, it was about 48 percent.

Is it possible that it dropped 2 percentage points already? Man, I hope so.

I don’t exercise. If God had wanted me to bend over, he would have put diamonds on the floor. ~ Joan Rivers

Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.