Upbeat music pumped over the loudspeakers as women of all ages (and a few teenage boys) shimmied, sashayed, and pivoted along with the instructor in a fun and challenging aerobics class offered at the YMCA.
This new fitness craze is called Zumba, and it is becoming increasingly popular throughout the US. The class consists of easy-to-follow Latin dance steps, including cha-cha, reggaeton, salsa, meringue and flamenco. It blends these steps with others that the instructor choreographs into a fun and intense dance routine.
Zumba, which is a Spanish slang word meaning “fast,” originated in 1986 when a California aerobics instructor realized he had forgotten his usual music, so he grabbed some tapes he had in his car and told his class they were going to try something different. The class grew in popularity, and eventually spread after the instructor started selling Zumba DVDs in 2002.
Many Zumba advocates like having variety in their workouts, as well as the fact that the class provides an escape from other workout methods that may seem boring or tedious, such as lifting weights or jogging. And as long as the students let themselves move freely and get into the routine, it can be a great cardio workout.
As someone who has personally fallen in love with Zumba, I can attest to the benefits of both your body and your attitude. Each time I leave a Zumba class I feel refreshed and uplifted. Watching you and your friends dance around the aerobics studio in the wall of mirrors makes you feel good about yourself and what your body can do.
Usually the new students in each class tend to start dancing self-consciously; however, as the instructor sashays across the floor and shouts encouraging words, their inhibitions tend to disappear. After all, participants always get the best workout when they let themselves go, sometime even throwing in their own moves.
A Zumba instructor at the Alexander Family YMCA said, “I see a lot of really quiet people go crazy in Zumba. It’s a great chance for people to break out of their shells and have a good time.”
Participants in the classes exchange laughter and smiles as they shimmy around the room. It is a great environment, and many come for a love of dance or the social aspect as opposed to using it to burn calories and shed pounds.
The whole point of Zumba is to give people a fun yet effective cardio workout that does not feel like work at all. It helps the students get in shape, learn some dance moves, and have a great time letting go and moving with the music. Many students say that they often forget they are burning fat and calories – it feels more like a big dance party with their friends.