Zumba is the latest craze on the fitness scene and when I saw it was offered by my new gym, Glebe Fitness, I was curious to give it a try.
But not without trepidation – my dance history has been a rocky road. When I was four I started ballet classes. One the first day I slipped, accidentally slamming my teeth into a classmate sitting on the floor below me. It appeared to the teacher that I had intentionally bit her, and I was promptly removed from the class and told I was not welcome to return. In my early twenties, I signed up for salsa classes with a group of friends. We all started as beginners and one by one moved up to intermediate, and then advanced. Except for me. I made it to beginner level two but never received the invitation from the instructor to join the intermediate class. Recently I was introduced to Dance Dance Revolution, which I enjoy immensely, but even the recorded voice on the game constantly nags me to “feel the rhythm!”
So I was feeling more than a bit intimidated when I rolled up to Glebe Fitness at 10am yesterday morning. The studio was already full and I squeezed myself in near the back, where my uncoordinated, rhythm-lacking limbs could work it out a little less publicly.
The class started with I Got A Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas. I was surprised to find most of the steps, which are based on a mix of salsa, merengue, reggaeton, calypso, African, hip hop, pretty easy to follow. Josee, the instructor, created a party atmosphere with some serious kick it attitude, punctuating the high energy moves with cat calls, whoops and cheers of encouragement. The all women class of varying shapes, sizes and ages responded by confidently shimmying their behinds and gyrating their hips – all this at 10:15 am on a Saturday morning. Before long I had broken a sweat and by the end of the class my initially bashful hip sways had evolved into an all out give ‘er sex goddess sizzling rotations that even earned a “yeah! you’ve got it!” from Josee.
No wonder why some refer to Zumba as exercise in disguise. And I think I’m even a little on my way to recovering a bit of my dancing ego!
What is it?
Zumba is a new aerobic style of dance using music based on salsa, merengue, reggaeton, calypso, African, hip hop and others.
When was it started?
“Beto” Perez, stumbled upon the concept in his native country of Colombia in the mid 1990’s. One day, he walked into his class and realized he had forgotten his aerobics music. His only option was to grab the tapes he had in his car – the traditional Latin salsa and merengue music with which he had been raised. Although it was a challenge to improvise a whole class on the spot, Beto rose to it and the class loved it. Zumba was born.
Will I feel like I’ve had a workout?
You can count on being hot, sweaty and breathless by the end of the class. The whole point is to keep your heart rate up, so don’t expect a break, or the instructor to slow down and demonstrate moves step by step in slow motion. According to the web, you can burn anywhere from 500 to 900 calories an hour.
Can people with two left feet do it?
Apparently yes. As above – things move quickly, so just do your best to follow. And if you miss a few steps, you won’t be alone.
What areas does it work?
Your heart, your abs (apparently that’s the secret behind shimmying your hips, although I didn’t manage to catch on to this in my first class), your thighs, your glutes …. I could go on. But it seemed to be more of an aerobics class, than strength building or toning. Then again, I was having so much fun, I might not have noticed.
Who’s taking it?
In the class at Glebe Fitness, women of all ages, and all shapes and sizes.
Where can I do it?
In Ottawa check out Dance with Alana or Glebe Fitness
Otherwise check out www.zumba.com to find a class near you.