Imagine going out dancing without caring if your makeup runs, because you are not wearing any. Imagine enjoying yourself while exercising to the point where you actually smile while you do it. Imagine that you have no inhibitions whatsoever because all you want to do is move to the music, which is also much easier to do while wearing athletic shoes. Imagine having a wonderful instructor to help you get the most benefit out of your experience. Happily, these utopic images do not exist just in my imagination, but manifest as reality during the Zumba group exercise class at the Alfond Sports Center. If you like to have fun while breaking a sweat, then Zumba is for you.
This is not your mom’s aerobics class. Zumba is a Latin-fusion aerobic dance class created in the ‘90s (and trademarked shortly thereafter) by celebrity fitness instructor Beto Perez. One day, he walked into one of his aerobics classes in Cali, Colombia, and realized that he had forgotten his usual music. However, he did have some of his favorite salsa and merengue music with him. Much to Perez’s surprise, the participants loved his improvised class, and it quickly became the most popular aerobics class at his gym. This happy accident created the exercise phenomenon known as Zumba, now offered at over 60,000 locations in 105 countries.
Here in Florida, Zumba arrived on the Rollins group exercise scene this semester with explosive popularity. “I was excited when I heard they were having classes here, because I know several people from home who go to Zumba, ” said Jenn Baker ’12. “It’s a fun way to get more active and be with friends at the same time.”
So what is a class like? I do not know what classes are like at other places; at Rollins, however, they are a party, albeit a party revolving around fitness, as opposed to empty liquid calories. While a Zumba class does provide an intense cardio workout (do not leave your water bottle at home), people smile and cheer throughout the class while they move to the beat of the Latin music. The instructor, Nikki, leads the group through simple but effective steps that get the blood pumping immediately without hindering the charged atmosphere.
“I love Nikki’s energy and enthusiasm,” said Brittany Rubino ’14. “She is very motivating.”
The high attendance of the first two Thursday classes precipitated the addition of a second class on Tuesdays. Even that has not proved enough to handle the extreme level of interest that Zumba has generated. Each week, more and more people (predictably, mostly women) have attended the class, and Thursday over 55 people managed to find some space to shake their groove things to the music in cramped quarters. For future classes, the powers that be at the Alfond Sports Center are working on reserving the upper level of the gym to ensure that as many people can participate in Zumba as possible and have still have room to maneuver.
Do not be that person who peeks in at the beginning of the class but then scurries away to run on the treadmill. Just leave your self-consciousness at the door and see what the fuss is about. You might just become hooked. There are definitely worse things that could happen to you.