When I was in high school I had many debates with people as to whether dancing is a sport. I was convinced that if they could just see all of the behind-the-scenes blood, sweat and tears it took for my dance team to become State Champions they would surely know otherwise.
When people think of dance, perhaps they envision professional dancers who move with beautiful precision across the stage to a choreographed piece of music. Or perhaps they envision nights spent out at the club where dancing is a social event bringing people of all ages and cultures together to shake and move their bodies as an act of freedom and expression. Both are fantastic forms of dance on their own, but put both together and you have ZUMBA!
According to their website Zumba is: “Exercise classes that are fitness-parties that blend upbeat world rhythms with easy-to-follow choreography for a total-body workout that feels like a celebration.”
Since I cut back on my running I have been trying out new ways to keep active. One of the best workouts I have found is taking Zumba classes. Most of the Zumba classes I go to are at 24-Hour Fitness and are offered at no extra charge with my club membership. Zumba is offered at most athletic clubs and recreation centers as well as through dance centers.
Zumba classes live up to their advertisement. The music is loud and people of all ages, cultures and fitness levels dance and enjoy themselves. The music and movement are a broad array of cultural styles including Latin, Indian, African and Hip Hop. There usually is one lead instructor demonstrating a semi-repetitive dance routine to various styles of cultural music, but participants have the freedom to alter the routine to their fitness level and/or personal style.
Some of the dance moves can be a bit risqué and may make some people uncomfortable or embarrassed to try, but you always have the option to tone down any movement. Even if you feel like you have two left feet and wouldn’t dare step foot on a dance floor, Zumba may just be the way to let out your inner dancer without feeling like the spotlight is on you. Nothing is more fantastic than seeing the smiling faces of sixty-year-old women as they cut loose and embrace the hip hop dancer within them!
The classes and dance styles are as diverse as the individual instructors. There is no set music or routine, although many instructors will use their music and routines regularly. These routines will become familiar if you continue to go to that specific class. If you try one class and don’t really connect with the instructor’s style, I would encourage you to try another.
Bruce Smith, my African dance instructor from high school, is teaching Zumba now, infusing an African flair into his class. He teaches on Saturday mornings in S.E. Portland and he even offers your first class with him free of charge. If you are in the Portland area, check out his website for more details. If you are not local, check out the Zumba website to find a class in your area.
In addition to the wonderful celebration of diversity that is a Zumba class, I also love that I am having so much fun that I don’t realize how much I am working out until I need my sweat towel. I always leave feeling satisfied and energized.
If you’re looking to add some diversity to your exercise routine, come and shake your booty off in a Zumba class. If you do, I’m sure you’ll agree that dancing really is a workout!