Zumba Shakes the Monotony Out of Ordinary Aerobics Classes

Joy Clinkscales of the District's Takoma neighborhood gets a workout during a recent Zumba class in Silver Spring.
Joy Clinkscales of the District's Takoma neighborhood gets a workout during a recent Zumba class in Silver Spring. (By J. Adam Fenster -- The Gazette)

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By Amber Parcher
Gazette Staff Writer
Thursday, July 31, 2008

Exercisers don't have to swivel their hips and shake their buns to get a good workout, but it sure can be fun.

That's why about 30 women gather faithfully once a week at the Washington Sports Club in Silver Spring. Unlike the stone-faced treadmill runners, these women are laughing and smiling, even though they know they're about to be drenched in sweat.

They are drawn by a 55-minute aerobic dance class called Zumba, an exercise with roots in Colombia.

Instructor Tanya Nuchols said Zumba is a fresh take on the monotony of traditional aerobics classes. It combines Latin-flavored music and traditional dance moves from salsa, tango and merengue with aerobics to keep people moving and shaking while they're body sculpting.

"There's stretching, there's toning movements and a lot of shimmy, shaky, spicy movements that add to the fun factor and burning calories," she said.

And that fun factor brings people back.

"It's supposed to be like a party," Nuchols said.

Zumba was created in the mid-1990s by Alberto Perez, a Colombian celebrity fitness trainer who one day forgot to bring the music he usually used to teach aerobics and improvised the class using the Latin music he had in his car.

Six years after arriving in gyms across the United States, Zumba is growing, said Alberto Perlman, chief executive of the Hollywood, Fla.-based Zumba Fitness, which sells Zumba videos and products. The company was co-founded by Perlman, Perez and entrepreneur Alberto Aghion.

Perlman said about 4 million people in 40 countries are taking the class, and 20,000 instructors have been trained to teach it.

The craze is expanding beyond gyms, as well. A clothing line was launched in the fall, and Zumba for children, Zumbatomic, will start in January, Perlman said.

Once instructors are trained in Zumba, they can teach at whatever fitness club they want, a representative said. Zumba does not charge licensing fees.

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