Jul 15, 2009 | Fit in SA, July 2009

If you see people in your gym that look like they are gearing up to be on “Dancing with the Stars,” then you are probably witnessing the latest craze in fitness–Zumba! Although Zumba been around SA for about four years, it has recently been gaining in popularity and showing up at more traditional clubs such as the Spectrum. Why? According to Zumba instructor and Challenge Fitness certified personal trainer Rachel Connor, it’s because anyone can do it.

“There are people from many different fitness levels who participate,” she says adding that she has taught classes that ranged from 20 year-olds to senior citizens.

 “It is neat to see people who have never worked out before start working out because it’s fun,” she says.

By definition, Zumba is Latin American dance so participants spend the 50 minute to one-hour classes gyrating through everything from salsa to merenge, reggaton and even hip hop. But besides being fun, Zumba is also one effective total body workout that combines cardio with conditioning. Each class varies depending on instructor and but it usually involves a balanced mix of slow and fast dances to get the most from the experience.

“But I can’t dance,” you wail. That’s no excuse.  “It doesn’t matter if you can’t dance,” assures Connor. “It’s a party so no one cares. Everyone is having a good time and you do what you can.”

Like any fitness routine such as step aerobics, yoga or Pilates, Zumba takes practice. You cannot expect to walk in and become an expert. You can expect to walk in and burn as many as 500 calories depending on your intensity. You can also expect to see people of all ages, shapes and sizes.

“I got involved in Zumba because it gave my clients a way to do cardio that was actually fun,” says Connor. “It’s not just running on a treadmill.”

If you are considering a Zumba class for the first time, wear regular exercise clothes and running shoes. Also be aware of whether the class is Zumba or Zumba Gold.

“Gold is an easier class designed for senior citizens or someone who is overweight and just beginning an exercise program,” explains Connor.

For more information or to find a class near you visit www.zumba.com.  

South Texas Fitness & Health