Zumba classes add a Latin groove to working out - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Zumba classes add a Latin groove to working out

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Posted: Thursday, June 14, 2007 4:07 pm | Updated: 7:40 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The deep bass and hypnotic drumbeats beg students to shake and shimmy. In the wood-floored studio at Dance Dynamix in Tempe, the song booming from the sound system shouts: “Are you ready?”

AUDIO SLIDESHOW: Watch the Zumba fitness class

The deep bass and hypnotic drumbeats beg students to shake and shimmy. In the wood-floored studio at Dance Dynamix in Tempe, the song booming from the sound system shouts: “Are you ready?”

The class, pacing about in sneakers, sure is: The 20 or so adults and teens are all set to Zumba.

“Zumba means to move fast,” explains Vanessa Lupercio, a Tempe mother of two who’s been teaching Zumba classes in the East Valley for the past two years.

Lupercio, who describes Zumba as a combination of fitness moves and Latin dances, became hooked on the fitness trend three years ago after trying DVDs at home. She says Zumba’s origins are in Colombia. It became popular in the U.S. when Zumba creator Beto Perez brought his high-energy brand of classes to Miami in the mid-1990s.

“I felt like this was meant for me,” says the petite dynamo, who after several months of working out to the DVDs decided to head to Florida to train with Perez and become certified to teach.

Lupercio says Zumba is a total body workout. Zumba-goers, she says, can burn from 500 to 800 calories an hour while toning their arms, abs, hips and glutes. She says some students come specifically to tone and lose weight. Others simply come to dance.

In a typical one-hour Zumba class, Lupercio keeps the class flowing with an array of dance styles, including salsa, merengue, flamenco — even a bit of belly dancing.

“It’s not about perfection. You can laugh here if you make a mistake,” says Sara Shuster, 34, of Phoenix, who’s been taking Zumba classes for the past five months. “I love to dance and move to the Latin music.”

“I love its freedom — the passion to go out on the floor and let loose,” says former professional dancer Melanie Rojas, 28, of Laveen.

Lupercio’s students seem to be having too much fun to notice they are working up a sweat. Applause erupts after each song. Some cheer before grabbing a sip of water.

“It’s a great workout,” says Ray Gamboa, 45, of Tempe, who’s a regular Zumba-goer along with wife Rose and daughters Tawny, 18, and Jasmine, 15. The former stuntman says he lost 15 pounds since trying out the class last year and loved it so much he, like Lupercio, decided to become a certified instructor.

Perhaps the best part about Zumba, say its followers, is that the experience doesn’t feel like a chore.

It “tricks you into believing you are dancing instead of working out,” says Gamboa.

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