alive logo


Feel-happy fitness


Wondering what the zumba exercise craze is all about? We introduce you to this music-infused energetic workout.

When it comes to working out, many people feel exercise should be athletic-based and challenging. They like to feel the lactic-acid burn in their muscles while they work out and experience the adrenalin high that comes from pushing themselves.

I am one of those people. So it was with some reluctance that a year ago, while on vacation in Maui, I went to a Zumba® fitness class that touted itself as “putting the party back into fitness.” I don’t want my exercise to be a celebration, I thought to myself; I want it to be heart-pumping, calorie-blasting hard. But I put my runners on and headed over to try it nonetheless.

Fitness dance fusion

Zumba (pronounced ZOOM-bah) is a popular group fitness craze and has been gathering steam for several years. Created in 2001 by Alberto “Beto” Perez, a Miami dance instructor, Zumba fuses Latin rhythms and a variety of other styles in its routines, including cumbia, soca, merengue, salsa, African, reggaeton, flamenco, funk, and belly dance. Zumba promotes itself as “a feel-happy workout that is great for both the body and the mind.”

A typical Zumba class is 60 minutes in length and includes a dance-type warmup, followed by interval training sessions with fast and slow rhythms, ending with resistance training and a cool-down.

Open for all

There are no licensing or franchise fees for Perez’s program, and each instructor can put his or her own stamp on the class. Unlike other programs that have stringent class formats, Zumba simply asks the gym or club that wants to use the name and program to have a certified Zumba instructor.

This is a wonderful and open concept to programming that allows more people to experience the workout. This is all we really want as fitness instructors and trainers—to get as many people moving as we can. Zumba is now being taught at over 60,000 locations in 105 countries, and millions of Zumba DVDs have been sold.

Hip-shaking fitness

Zumba instructor Denise Galay ( feels that the reason Zumba is so popular is because of its originality and the current popularity of dance shows on television. She states that the program is really a dance class disguised as a fitness class. But she is also quick to stress that there is no heavy choreography, and if you can shake your hips, then you can do a Zumba class.

The music is extremely important to Zumba and it helps provide the background to the fun, party-like atmosphere that the class is known for. Although the program is open to all ages and genders, a high percentage of Galay’s participants are women in their thirties and forties.

So what was my take on Zumba? For one, I think this is a great class for beginners who want to start exercising without the feeling that they are working while they exercise. This class, while it does have an element of impact to it, is also a great program for those who need a low-impact exercise class due to knee or lower back issues. But one of the best benefits of Zumba is how it inspires you to “shake what your momma gave you" and to smile a lot while shaking it.

Looking to buy a Zumba DVD? Currently, Zumba DVDs and other merchandise can only be found on If you are currently taking a class you can also ask your instructor if he or she has any DVDs available for sale.

Looking for a Zumba class near you? Log onto and type in your city, how many miles you are willing to travel, and what type of Zumba program you desire. For each class that comes up, helpful information is provided, such as the address of the facility, the instructor’s name, and the dates and times of the class.

Zumba Fitness, although relatively new to the fitness industry, understands that it needs to keep evolving to keep people interested in its programs. In the last few years it has launched the following programs and DVDs:

  • Zumbatomic: a program for children ages four to 12
  • Zumba Gold: a workout program specifically for people 60 years and over
  • Zumba Toning: a sculpting class using special weighted sticks
  • Aqua Zumba: a water-based workout

Basic moves

Try these four Zumba basic moves:


1. The Salsa Side Lunge
The Salsa Side Lunge is like a normal side step, shifting your weight in a count of 1, 2, 3 and adding a little bit of hip to it while you side step.

2. Merengue March
Think of the Merengue March as a regular march step, twisting your knee inward as you step. Galay tells her clients to “bring your knees in just like you need to go pee.” Definitely gets the point across.

3. Cumbia Machete
Bring your right foot forward, tap centre, and step back while your left arm reaches up and down in a chopping action.

4. Reggaeton Stomp Step
The Reggaeton Stomp Step is a basic heel tap with attitude. Keep your body low with the tap and move arms back and forth.



Scent-Sational Aromas

Scent-Sational Aromas

Fragrance options for a cozy home

Leah PayneLeah Payne