Latin American dance class is a new exercise hit
The newest aerobic craze to hit the UK is called Zumba – Colombian slang for ‘to buzz’ or ‘to move fast like a bee’.
The classes began in Miami eight years ago as an alternative to the same old exercise routines. Now the mix of aerobics with salsa, mambo and meringue has spread overseas.
‘It’s a cardio-based workout which also helps tone and sculpt the body,’ explains Yorkshire-based instructor Nicola Swindle. ‘It’s a great way to lose weight, increase strength and co-ordination, and to foster self-esteem and pure happiness. That is why so many people love it and get addicted to it.’
It all started simply enough in Colombia in the Nineties when aerobics teacher Beto Perez forgot his usual music and had to improvise around the music he had in his car – traditional Latin salsa and merengue. The class was a huge success and Perez realised he was onto something, merging aerobics with dance to a lilting Latin beat.
He moved to the US and the Zumba bid for world domination began. There are now more than 20,000 instructors teaching Zumba in 35 countries.
A standard one-hour class uses four basic rhythms based on simplified versions of salsa, merengue, cumbia and reggaeton (mixed up with a bit of mambo, flamenco, rumba and calypso).
Nicola agrees that the workout exercises your endorphins as well as your muscles. ‘I focused on the fitness benefits of the class to begin with, explaining how it’s exercise in disguise,’ she says. ‘But now I’m beginning to think it’s Prozac in disguise as well.’