Zumba

If you believe that “fun” can co-exist in the same sentence as “exercise,” then Zumba might be for you. Channel your inner Shakira, get in touch with your feminine moves and find the beat in an exciting exercise class that tones your body and fuels your soul.

Colombian for “booty shakin’,” Zumba is the latest exercise craze to hit cities all over the nation. Combining aerobics and dance into a high-octane workout that is truly fun, Zumba is gaining new adherents every day, including such celebrities as Jennifer Lopez, Jackie Chan, Victoria Beckham and Natalie Portman.

Like many great ideas, Zumba started as an accident. In Colombia back in the 80s, fitness instructor and choreographer Alberto Perez forgot his tape of aerobics music for a class he was teaching. Grabbing cassettes out of his backpack that were filled with traditional salsa and merengue music, the innovative instructor improvised a class with new moves to the Latin sounds. It was a hit, and soon Perez brought the concept to the United States through a series of home video workout tapes.

Today, Zumba classes can be found at numerous gyms and dance studios. An exciting combination of aerobics and dance, Zumba combines musical styles of hip hop, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, martial arts, Bollywood and belly dance into one whirlwind workout.

A typical Zumba class lasts one hour and burns 500 to 1000 calories. Bringing the dance party to the health club, Zumba is enjoying an upward trend and today it is estimated that over 14 million people take Zumba classes every week. Whether you are a fitness buff, a dance floor fanatic, a couch potato or a senior citizen, there is a Zumba class for you.

With eight different class types created for different levels of age and exertion, Zumba offers something for everyone, no matter where you are located on the fitness spectrum. Classes usually cost about $10 a pop and are filled with women of all shapes, sizes and ages – with a few lucky gentlemen thrown in as well.

Even better, Zumba is one of the few sports where you’ll do better if you have a little jiggle to shake. Like belly dancing, Zumba celebrates the curvaceous female body, so be prepared to bounce that booty, shimmy your breasts and swivel your hips up and down. If you feel like you have no sense of rhythm at all, don’t worry – there will probably be other white people in your class, too.

If you aren’t familiar with Latin dance steps and the sensual hip gyrations that are prevalent in such dances as the samba, it might take you a class or two to get up to speed. But even if you miss a step – or half of them – who cares? Zumba is all about having fun and keeping your heart rate up while moving your body to sexy rhythms. You’ll walk out of class covered in sweat, invigorated by the beats and convinced that you just had the most fun possible under the guise of “exercise.”

Image: Lifeline Australia