Zumba! Somewhere between working out and dancing at a club, this spicy fitness class has a Latin groove

0015By now you’ve surely heard of it. Zumba®: the hot and spicy fitness class, with its unprecedented phenomenon of inspiring excitement about exercise.

    For the past 10 years it has been spreading exponentially worldwide, far from its humble beginnings in Columbia, where flustered instructor, Beto Perez, having forgotten aerobics music, improvised with Latin music he had in his backpack. From this “mistake” was born a modality with sexy music and steps that blur the line between working out and dancing at a club.

    Zumba uses Latin rhythms such as the salsa, merengue and samba, along with American and international pop songs, sprinkled generously with reggaeton (Latin form of hip-hop). It’s a great
chance to sample dance steps from around the world in an informal and fun way.

Is Zumba your answer?

Zumba is first and foremost an aerobic workout, with certified instructors. Participants can feel safe knowing instructors are trained to look for improper form. Instructors plan classes intermittent in intensity so students increase their cardio respiratory endurance. And since most muscle groups are activated, it provides muscle toning without lifting weights.

    By now it’s old news that exercise has benefits such as helping control your appetite, preventing diseases and giving you more energy. But if thinking about exercise just makes you tired and you are constantly coming up with excuses to avoid it, then Zumba might be your answer.

    The winning combination of exhilarating, sensual and loud music with moves that you’ve only tried in the privacy of your own home (or maybe that you haven’t done since junior high) cause participants to be hooked instantly. The best part is that you can modify the moves to suit your own physical needs.

Body, spirit, mind

Zumba is about the joy of taking care of your body, spirit and mind. “Zumba helps me leave my troubles behind for an hour or so,” says Ruth Grimm. After “escaping” life to dance, you’re better mentally prepared to face life’s challenges.

    And so important at this time of the year: “Zumba gets me through the winter blues,” says Stephanie Neher.

    Jaime Smoody says, “Zumba has given me a self-confidence that I never thought I had,” and according to Melissa Rivero, “Zumba has made me a more colorful woman, in dress and in attitude.”

    There are countless stories of Zumba love, addiction and weight loss. What sets it apart is the exotic music, the ease of the moves and the community that seems to form wherever there’s Zumba.

Using worldly music to do good locally

Local Zumba instructors and participants get together outside of class to socialize and get to know each other better, and there’s even a Facebook group that supports teachers and local Zumba programs and advertises events.

       But they also band together to do good in the world. In Rochester Zumbathon charity events have raised money for Channel One Food Bank, scholarships for families in early childhood and family education, school readiness and PAIIR programs, the victims of the Haiti earthquake, the Strong Kids Campaign at the Y and, coming on January 7, Multiple Sclerosis.

Find a Zumba class

Almost every athletic club in Rochester offers Zumba classes. And it’s not just for women. Amos Kroening says, “Zumba is a great workout. I’ve lost 15 pounds so far, plus it feels good to be comfortable and look good on the dance floor when we go out.”

    Is exercise on your list of resolutions for the New Year? Zumba makes it easy to stick to that resolution for the entire year.

Emily Watkins has been teaching Zumba for four years, loving every second of it. She is the co-owner of Empowered Wellness in northeast Rochester. Your first class is free, so you have no excuses. www.empoweredwellness.yolasite.com