By Maggie Schneiderman
Ten years ago in Cali, Columbia, fitness trainer Beto Perez forgot his aerobics music. It was too late to go home for it, so he used the Latin Salsa tapes he had in his backpack, and Zumba was born.
Zumba is an aerobic workout combining Latin and international music with dance. The program is currently taught at over 60,000 locations in 105 countries, has sold millions of DVDs and is the work-out favorite of about 7.5 million Americans, according to zumba.com. The University is no exception, with free classes held each Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 4-5 p.m.
A session of Zumba can feel more like a nightclub than a gym. An energetic instructor teaches you to shake your hips and do fast footwork for a mix of dances ranging from Salsa to aerobic-inspired steps, all to the beat of loud, popular music. The Zumba program fuses rhythmic Latin beats and easy-to-follow moves to make a fun, full-body workout. Unlike repetitions with weights or an hour on the treadmill, you don’t even realize you’re working out, but your body reaps the same benefits—an hour-long Zumba class can burn hundreds of calories, according to the Zumba official web site. Zumba’s slogan, “Ditch the workout, join the party” is an accurate description. Adri Hartung ’14 said “the best part is dancing with your friends. It doesn’t even seem like a workout, but it’s really great exercise.”
In a class of almost 45 girls with various levels of dance experience, everyone had a smile on her face and was able to sing along to songs like “3” by Britney Spears and Trey Songz’s “Say Ahh.”
Any level of ability is welcome. As instructor Grace Ragold ’13 said in the beginning of class, no one is watching you, and everyone is there to improve her fitness and have fun. The Zumba program moves are easy to follow, and no previous dance experience is required.
Maddie Lawrence ’14, who has no previous dance experience, was pleased with her ability to follow along. Kira Kukon ’14, who is a newcomer to Zumba but has experience in dance, said it was a fun way to exercise. She was even able to put her own spin on some of the moves to personalize the workout.
Ragold’s passion for Zumba really shows through in her class. She motivates the girls to have fun and challenge themselves to keep up with the pace. Zumba is a “great cardio workout that also works different muscle groups, and aside from the fitness benefits, it’s a great way to meet people,” she said.
The Zumba workout can be a stress reliever after a full day of classes and is an exhilarating was to tone muscles, burn calories and have fun all at the same time. Next time you want to hit the gym but the elliptical looks daunting, ditch the workout and join the party.