Ditch the Workout...Join the Party!

What is a Zumba fitness class like? It's a very exciting dance party atmosphere full of Latin and international music. You'll forget you're working out with the sexy but simple moves to dance music like Cha Cha, Salsa, reggaeton, rumba and more. Best of all, you don't need any previous dance experience!

It's fun and effective, using interval training combining fast and slow rhythms for an effective aerobic workout while at the same time targetting your legs, abs, glutes and arms.

The workout is basically watch and follow. The moves are repeated often enough for you to catch on and they're not complicated. The routines are repeated week after week with additions every now and then to spice things up even more!

According to the Zumba website, "Zumba combines high energy and motivating music with unique moves and combinations that allow the Zumba participants to dance away their worries. It is based on the principle that a workout should be 'FUN AND EASY TO DO' in order for Zumba participants to stick to the Zumba fitness program to achieve long-term health benefits. Zumba is not only great for the body, but it is also great for the mind. It is a 'feel happy' workout."

Zumba is very infectious and is definitely the latest, most exciting fitness sensation! What a fun way to workout to lose weight or just become a healthier new you - you'll love the results. Be sure to bring your family and friends to be a part of the Zumba Fitness party! Check out the Zumba website here for more info: http://www.zumba.com/. Happy Zumba-ing :-)

Zumba with Heather: http://www.energiezumba.com

Samba Lines at the Gym

Samba Lines at the Gym
By MIREYA NAVARRO
LOS ANGELES
From New York Time, July 10, 2008

WITH a name like Zumba, the exercise class defined by its Latin rhythms and party atmosphere was not exactly an easy sell at first.

“Zumba?” people would ask. (It connotes buzzing like a bee, or going fast, in Spanish.)

Worse, it could have run the course of any other fitness fad: Word of mouth excitement. Feverish following. Media attention. Hardcore fans. Then on to the next fitness craze.

But five years after arriving in gyms and dance studios, Zumba Fitness (www.zumba.com) keeps expanding, most recently into schools, senior centers and unconquered territory like New York City, and some foreign markets.

A session of Zumba, a cardio-dance routine, can feel like a trip to the nightclub of a cruise ship, where a well-toned crew member teaches you to wiggle your hips and do the fast footwork for a mix of dance styles to the thump of loud music. While Zumba crowds are not plied with alcohol, people often throw away inhibitions — they pump their arms, applaud, let out “yeahs” — as they work out.

More than 3.5 million Zumba DVDs have sold through infomercials and about 20,000 instructors in 40 countries now teach Zumba, 15,000 of those in the United States, said Alberto Perlman, the chief executive of Zumba Fitness, in Hollywood, Fla.

Recent additions include ZumbAtomic, a program on DVD for children 5 to 12 ; Zumba Gold, classes for people 60 and older; and Zumba Toning, a sculpturing program using weighted sticks that sound like maracas, offered on DVD and through classes starting this year. Still to come are water exercise classes called Aquazumba, and a guide to all things Zumba (including a nutrition plan) to be published next spring.

The man who started it all, Alberto Perez, 37, said he still does not fully grasp the empire he has created.

“Remember when Forrest Gump started running and people followed him?” Mr. Perez said. “I feel like the Forrest Gump of dance.”

MR. PEREZ, a former aerobics trainer from Colombia, said he stumbled upon his fitness concept by accident. In 1986, as he was about to teach a class in Cali, Colombia, he realized he had forgotten his aerobics music tapes. He grabbed his own music from his car — salsa and merengue from El Gran Combo, Las Chicas del Can and other popular bands — and improvised the class.

From then on, he said, his students refused to go back to the old tum-tum-tum-tum aerobics beat. He taught in Bogotรก, Colombia, and, in 1999, in Miami, where he got together with Mr. Perlman and another fellow Colombian, Alberto Aghion, to offer Zumba videos through infomercials.

The enthusiasm for Zumba is now in evidence in cities like Los Angeles, where more than 100 instructors offer classes. Most students are women, but the cross-section of ages, from 20 to 60 in one class, speaks of Zumba’s wide appeal, despite its challenging pace.

Over the course of an hour, a Zumba class will span a variety of dance rhythms, like mambo, cha-cha, cumbia, and merengue, with the occasional hip-hop or belly dancing move thrown in. Because instructors are free to put their own stamp on things, a sampling of classes in the Los Angeles area at prices from $10 to $15 a class yielded somewhat different styles.

Lisa Blasco at Anisa’s Dance Studio in Sherman Oaks, Calif., lent her class an old aerobics feel with shouts and clapping. Gina Amato at Do It Now Fitness Club in Los Angeles was quieter, focusing on movements like the upper body undulation of belly dancing.

At different sites in the San Fernando Valley, Juan Pablo Santana, a former aerobics trainer, kept an intense pace that combined dance with aerobics.

And at classes in Beverly Hills and Culver City, Wilson Williams, known to his followers as Wil, combined Zumba with boot camp: he makes his students do 10 push-ups and 30 crunches in between music sets and sometimes dance while holding 3- to 5-pound weights.

During his Friday afternoon class at Your Neighborhood Studio in Culver City, he instructed: abdomens in and out. But when most abdomens seemed to be on strike, he stopped the dancing and barked: “Do 30 crunches and teach your tummy to listen to you!”

Talk to his sweat-drenched students, though, and all they recall is the fun. “I wouldn’t call it a party, but it’s such a great way to dance,” said Barbara Linton, a health food caterer and avid walker in West Los Angeles who has been attending Mr. Williams’s classes for the last four months. “It’s high-spirited, it’s uplifting. It’s brought me back to listening to music while I’m cooking.”

Health club industry representatives say Zumba is benefiting from higher attendance rates for group exercise classes and from a dancing trend in fitness that some clubs attribute to popular reality shows like “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing With the Stars.”

The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association says dance classes have steadily expanded among its 5,700 member clubs. A census by the organization found that 1,017 of its clubs had dance programming this year, compared with 749 in 2002 and 603 in 2001.

DESPITE a sluggish start in New York City in 2006, Mr. Perlman said, instructor workshops in the city are now selling out. Lori Lowell, the national group fitness director for Gold’s Gym International, the country’s largest health club chain with nearly 600 clubs, says Zumba remains popular even at locations that started the classes five years ago.

She said the classes, offered at 120 locations, continue to grow, and attributes Zumba’s success to its simplicity. “Easy moves, not a lot of talking or choreography,” she said. “Because of the music, people are not afraid to try it.”

For clubs, Zumba’s appeal is that it requires no licensing fees or investment in materials, just a Zumba-trained teacher. (The training program is not rigorous: an eight-hour workshop is all it takes to become an instructor, with continued learning through CDs and DVDs and online access to new steps, music recommendations and tips.)

Ms. Lowell said the program could benefit from more stringent certification to maintain quality; Mr. Perlman said this was in the works for next year.

Zumba draws those adept at Latin beats, and about 30 percent of both instructors and those who attend classes are Latino, Mr. Perlman estimated.

Rosemary Lavery, a spokeswoman for the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, said Latino membership among health clubs has been on the rise, now accounting for 19 percent, compared with 15 percent in 2005, but she couldn’t say how much Zumba had to do with the trend.

On a recent Saturday night at the Spectrum athletic club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., for a Zumba dance-a-thon held by Mr. Williams, Fred Partiyeli, 44, said he enjoyed the classes but understood why he was among only a few men. “Men mostly like to exercise the upper body and chest,” he said. “They want to feel that their muscles are tighter. Zumba makes you sweat and you need a lot of coordination. If it goes too fast, I can’t follow.”

Some studios advertise that Zumba can lead to an 800-calorie loss per class, but Ms. Lowell said too many variables are at play to make such claims. Aerobics classes can burn 350 to 700 calories, she said, depending on the person.

Amy Wetzel, 24, said she has lost 28 pounds since January with Zumba, but she has taken five to six classes a week.

Fitness experts say Zumba is likely to endure. “People want to do something that’s a lot of fun,” Ms. Lowell said. “Where time flies by, and it’s not that complicated. They don’t want to think too much.”

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