Survive + Thrive

Zumba: More of a party than a workout

By Paloma Richards

Even if you haven't tried it, chances are you've heard of it. Zumba may just be the newest fitness craze. Yet it came to that status somewhat by accident.

The Colombian slang for "fast," Zumba was created by Alberto "Beto" Perez in the mid 1990s. Perez was teaching an aerobics class in his native Cali, Colombia when he forgot the music for his class. Instead he used his own salsa and meringue tapes and improvised the class. And Zumba was born.

In 1999, Perez brought Zumba to Miami where he was approached by entrepreneurs Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion. By 2002, the three were selling Zumba DVDs on infomercials and the demand was high. But the DVD buyers were not only interested in learning Zumba, but also in teaching it. Perez, Perlman, and Alberto began to offer workshops in 2005 and four years later, in July 2009, reports the exercise routine is now taught in 40,000 locations and 75 different countries.

Zumba is similar to an aerobics dance class, but is not limited to any genre of music. Participants will move to samba music, meringue, reggaeton, hip hop, and even rock and roll. Despite the fast moving pace of the class, the steps are simple, involving only four or five moves. These steps are repeated so that students can feel the music and not worry about complex movements. The steps of Zumba can be modified to handle a range of fitness levels and ages.

The website reports that Zumba classes offer a list of benefits such as lower blood pressure, improved muscle tone and balance, calorie burn, increased bone density, and lessening body fat. But those are just the physical benefits. Many participants say the music makes them feel good and allows them to release their inhibitions.

Zumba classes range from Aqua Zumba which is basically a Zumba class in the water; Zumbatomic is for children ages 4-12; Zumba Toning, using weighted sticks to sculpt the body and Zumba Gold for older participants. To find a Zumba class near you, all you need to do is go to, go to the "Find a class" tab and type in your address and you will get a list of locations where Zumba classes are offered.

Click the video below to see the Zumba experience.

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