Zumba: Fitness made fun PDF Print E-mail
Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN Sentinel County Editor   
Friday, 05 April 2013 11:30
Katy Townley instructs and leads participants during a Zumba class. (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
As the steady beat pounds, the women seem to lose their inhibitions. They move their toes, fingertips and everything in between to the throbbing music.
For one hour, the women in the Zumba class at the Bowling Green Community Center sweat to the sensual sounds of hip-hop, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo and belly dancing.
And if they’re lucky, they won’t even realize they are working out. That’s what separates Zumba from other exercise classes — it’s more like dancing and less like drudgery, according to those gyrating to the jams.
“It doesn’t really feel like you’re working out, but you are,” said Katy Townley, the Zumba instructor who has been teaching classes since 2009. “They get a great workout, but they don’t realize it.”
Instead of pained grimaces, the class participants can’t keep the smiles off their faces. The rhythmic Latin songs make it hard to stand still.
“I love the music and I love to dance,” said Holly Barker, who said Zumba is much more enjoyable then the Jazzercize classes she took in the past. “You have fun while you work out.”
A participant stretches before her Zumba workout.
A participant takes a water break during the Zumba class.
It isn’t that Zumba is easy. There are plenty of deep squats, big arm movements, and swinging hips. It isn’t long till dancers are shedding their sweatshirts and sipping water between songs. The rotating fan is cranked up and hairbuns are tightened.
The different lyrics of the “world music” do not create a language barrier for dances. The pounding music speaks clearly to the women moving to every type of music from heavy Latin rhythms and sultry sounds of India.
“It allows you to flow with the music,” said Elayne Jacoby. The Zumba class is perfect, “if you’re a closet dancer and don’t want to dance in public.”
Zumba participants are primarily women, though the classes are open to anyone.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever had a guy in my class,” Townley said. “It does kind of have a feminine flair.”
And members of the community center class said they see success with the workouts.
“It’s fun and it burns a lot of calories,” said Kelly Chatfield, who has been doing Zumba for about one year.
“I do it to keep my weight under control,” said Jill Hartwell, who has been taking the classes for almost two years. “I like the music, the beat.”
Zumba was created by Colombian dancer and choreographer Alberto “Beto” Perez in the 1990s. The dance phenomenon reportedly started when Perez forgot his tape of aerobics music for a class he was teaching. He took the tapes he had in his backpack — primarily traditional salsa and merengue music — and improvised a class using this non-traditional aerobics music.
The result was an exercise class that felt more like an hour of dancing.

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