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What's So Great about Zumba?

Signs across the region shout this name: "Zumba." What is it that makes more than 12 million people worldwide commit to it for exercise?

I’ve never been one to take aerobics classes or join gyms. Hold on. I lie. I joined a gym once just because my company paid for it, and it gave me an excuse to leave my office at lunchtime.  

And they had a nice hot tub.

But after feeling like a piece of meat every time I got on that thigh-strengthening machine, I decided I would never join another gym again.

The community exercise classes never seemed to fit in with my hectic schedule, so I resorted to the comfort and convenience of my Wii Fit. That lasted two months and got old too. I didn’t like when it kept asking me why I hadn’t been on it for three days. It kind of freaked me out.

So when signs for “Zumba” began popping up all over the area -- at churches, recreation centers, gyms -- I was intrigued but had no clue what it was.

Several years have passed since the signs began to multiply across the region, and still the rage continues. And still I had no idea what the heck it was.

I found out this past weekend when the (of which I am also a member) hosted its first community Zumba fitness class at . It is free to anyone from the Lehigh Valley to come and enjoy.

Anything free is for me, so I went, mostly to observe and take a few pictures. But once I heard the beat of that music -- wow! It was almost as if my feet had a life of their own.

My hips asked for freedom while my mind said, “Knock that off!” I’ve never been a dancer. I look like Elaine from a Seinfeld episode when I try to dance. (Blame my dad for not letting me go to school dances as a teen!)

But the music was pulling me. I wanted to dance! I wanted to exercise!

Have you tried Zumba? What you think? Tell us in the comments.

Seeing a Zumba class motivated me to dive into it further. Where's its origin? Why is it so popular? Will it ever go away, or will we all be overcome by the hypnotic power of that Zumba beat?

According to Wikipedia, Zumba was discovered by accident in the 1990s when Columbian founder Alberto “Beto” Perez forgot his regular aerobics tapes for his class. He improvised by grabbing the music he had in his backpack et voila! He found his niche.

Zumba uses a variety of dance styles including salsa, merengue, hip-hop, samba, martial arts, mambo and a little bit of belly dancing. 

It’s estimated that 12 million people have discovered Zumba and take weekly classes in more than 125 countries. That’s saying something!

I was amazed to see such a diverse crowd. People of all ages and sizes were totally into it, really having fun, and all without passing judgment on anyone else. 

An average Zumba workout will burn anywhere from 500 to 1,000 calories, which is almost the equivalent of a Whopper with cheese.

Now that Zumba and I have been formally introduced, I think I love it too! Make that 12 million and one!

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