2018-01-01 / Health & Fitness

Zumba: More a dance party than a workout


Tyler King, in blue headband, leads Zumba class through a fast tempo routine. Tyler King, in blue headband, leads Zumba class through a fast tempo routine. Tyler King has found her niche in Zumba, an upbeat exercise program she leads at Bonita Springs YMCA.

In a recent class, King shouted, “OK, here we go!” Participants grinned and followed her faststepping, clapping, hip-shaking moves, set to salsa and merengue music.

“I try to keep a high tempo going, then slow down a bit to break it up,” she said. “You can pass the hour without even realizing you’re working out.”

Class member Carol Neeley agreed. “I love to dance, and find Zumba a refreshing way to exercise,” she said. “Tyler is amazing at leading this. Her rhythm and enthusiasm are contagious, and she gets the dance party going.”

Neeley is also a fitness instructor, and has led high-impact aerobics, step, and power walking. She said Zumba works your entire body, especially the core muscles.

“You’re turning a lot, with arms flying left and right, up and down. It elevates your heart rate and really burns the calories,” she explained. “I like how it sculpts your waistline.”

Research has shown it’s possible to burn several hundred calories in one Zumba session, depending on the intensity level. “While I was training, I went to a few classes where I didn’t break a sweat, and to others where I was drenched by the end,” King said.

Zumba was created in the 1990s by Colombian fitness trainer Beto Perez.

One day, Perez arrived to lead aerobics and realized he didn’t bring his music CDs. He ran to his car, grabbed his favorite Latin music CDs, and improvised a class with the spicy, fast-paced tunes. Participants loved it.

Over the next several months Perez choreographed various routines for Latin music, and his classes soon became packed.

In 1999 he moved to Miami, where his program quickly caught on. Perez then teamed up with entrepreneurs Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion to create a global company, Zumba Fitness. The venture expanded, and Zumba is currently offered through trained instructors in more than 75 countries.

In Southwest Florida, Zumba classes can be found in fitness clubs, recreational and community centers.

There are some precautions to consider in a Zumba workout. To prevent knee injury, King suggests wearing sneakers that slide easily and do not grip the floor. “The fast-turning moves could hurt your knees, if you’re not careful,” she said. Wearing shoes that support your ankles, such as high-tops, may also help.

Some people are not comfortable with a lot of jumping, sliding, and twisting moves. “If it doesn’t feel right for you, don’t do it, or try to modify it,” King said. “It’s all about moving and having fun.”

Ann Marina may be reached at marina@swspotlight.com

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