Max Baker shimmies along to the latest Latino fi tness craze
I didn’t know much about Zumba, only that it was a dance fi tness class. It was created in Colombia in the early 90s before spreading around the world in 2001. This week, more than 1,000 classes will take place in Greater London alone. Who knew?
It’s marketed as a fun fi tness class, inspired by Latin beats to give you a cardio workout while toning all your muscle groups. Instructor AJ told me how much weight he’d lost doing Zumba, but I couldn’t help thinking someone doing 21 hours a week of any exercise would probably lose their love handles eventually. However, AJ instantly put me at ease – his enthusiasm and sense of humour were infectious. The class I went to was made up of about 30 women in their 20s to 40s, a demographic that is fairly typical, and me. Great, now I was defending the rhythmic capabilities of my entire gender as well.
As I limbered up, hoping to vaguely copy whatever AJ was doing, the music began to play. I hoped it wasn’t salsa. I hate salsa. ‘It doesn’t matter if you love him, or capital H.I.M.,’ shouted AJ. Come again? Secretly delighted, I threw myself into trying to keep up. Zumba looks relatively straightforward. However, as a novice, attempting to co-ordinate arms, legs and hips with a group that have clearly done this before, I was less than graceful. We boogied on down to Alesha Dixon, Beyoncé, J-Lo etc, in the midst of which I nearly forgot where I was and danced around with the sort of confi dence I would normally reserve for my bedroom. By the end of the session I began to form an unspoken bond with my Zumba sisters – at that point we were all dripping and near to collapse. This isn’t just having a bit of a dance; this is a proper workout. AJ was very kind about my efforts.
Although agreeing that I looked ‘a bit lost’ at the beginning, he lauded my progress as the hour went on. I learned that it doesn’t matter if you can’t dance; if you throw yourself into Zumba without hesitation or embarrassment, it’s a great way to get a workout and have a dance at the same time. A typical class lasts an hour, and although it could be enjoyable for anyone, it seems to appeal especially to people who are normally more casual about their exercise routine, or who fi nd gyms boring. That said, the Zumba-goers I met were keen to mention the addictive nature of the class and I can’t disagree – I’ll be joining them again soon. www.zumba.com