Zumba: The Workout for All Ages

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Last May a new workout studio, Studio Rincon, opened near my house.  They offered yoga, Pilates, hip hop, jazz, and a class called Zumba. I’d heard about Zumba but never tried it. After my first class, I was hooked and I’ve been going every Friday.

Zumba is a fast-paced dance program which fuses hypnotic Latin rhythms and easy-to-follow moves that incorporate salsa and rumba. It’s the fastest and most fun hour of exercise I’ve ever done. Even though it’s low impact, I always leave dripping wet because of the fast-paced music. I’m on a high for the rest of the day and, for several days afterward, I still find myself humming some of the tunes in my head.

Zumba started in the mid-90s in Columbia. Fitness trainer “Beto” Perez walked into his aerobics class one day and realized he had forgotten his aerobics music. He grabbed the tapes he had in his backpack, which were the traditional Latin salsa and merengue music he listened to all his life. But it was a challenge to improvise a whole class on the spot using non-traditional aerobics music. Beto rose to the challenge and from his improvisation Zumba was born. The class soon became the most popular workout at his fitness facility. He brought the class to the United States in 1999. Two years later he trademarked the word Zumba and set a goal to expand the brand all over the world.

Zumba is a workout for all ages. In our class we have four grandmas, lots of moms, and even a few teenage girls. There’s even an 80-year old great-grandma! Zumba also teaches classes for ages 4-12. Our teacher, Jazon, is a young man in his late-twenties with a degree in dance. I always stand right next to him so that I can copy his moves. Since he repeats the same routine every week, I’ve gotten better at some of the nuances of hip-swaying and hand movements. Jazon says that the energy everyone brings to class makes it feel like a fiesta on top of the Latin music.

You can burn up to 500 calories a class and learn Latin dance in a fun, party atmosphere. You don’t need any special equipment—just comfortable shoes, such as a lightweight cross training shoe with good support. I wore my pedometer to class to see how many steps I take. I danced the equivalent of 3.5 miles! Classes are becoming more popular and you can find one by going to the Zumba website and clicking on “Find a Class.”