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Fitness and fun galore

EVE WOMAN
By | April 24th 2011

You have to experience Zumba to understand it. It is not just about the adrenaline rush or sweating your guts out, Zumba leaves you with so much energy that you can hardly wait for the next session, writes Njoki Chege

What is Zumba?

Zumba fitness is the Latin-inspired dance-fitness programme that blends international music and spontaneous steps to form a ‘fitness-party’. And like most great inventions, Zumba began as an accident — a happy accident.

Liz Baregu in action.

One day in the mid 1990’s, a Colombian fitness instructor, Alberto Perez rushed to the gym to teach his aerobics class, only to find that he had forgotten the usual aerobic music tapes.

He improvised the normal aerobics music with some mix tapes he had in his bag — a combination of salsa and merengue music.

Naturally, he slowly created his own dance moves, much to the amusement and appreciation of his class. But it was not until 1999 that Perez brought his new dance-fitness style to Miami, Florida.

"In 2001, he met entrepreneurs Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion.The three hailed from Colombia and had a vision to bring this dynamic dance-fitness class to the masses.

The three Albertos formed an alliance and created a business, calling it Zumba Fitness, LLC. They trademarked the word Zumba and set a goal to expand the brand all over the world." Reads www.zumba.com, the official website for Zumba.

Today, Zumba boasts of more than 12 million people taking weekly classes in more than 110,000 locations across more than 125 countries. In Nairobi, Zumba is the in-thing. Due to the high demand, many gymnasiums and health clubs have Zumba sessions. Kenyans have learnt that they can keep fit and have fun at the same time.

"Zumba is becoming popular and the instructors are overwhelmed because they are always fully booked," said Josephine Simonet, a certified and licensed Zumba instructor.

Vigorous dancing

In a world where we are spoilt for choice when it comes to methods of keeping fit, Zumba has proved to be a fun way of exercising owing to the fact that dancing is involved. It demands the extensive use of every part of your body — your mind included, as you are required to coordinate your steps with the beats of the music.

Since Zumba involves vigorous dancing, shedding a few kilos and toning your body is inevitable, as Liz Baregu, a Zumba instructor and enthusiast puts it.

"I was big before I began Zumba, now, I am in control of my weight and I feel much younger in spite of my 51 years."

According to Liz, the health benefits are not limited to stress relief. It reduces blood sugar for people with diabetes and reduces bad cholesterol.

Amy, a Zumba enthusiast who trains at MOW fitness club, South C, says the workout is doing miracles in her life.

"The workout is amazing because it keeps me from eating junk food," she says.

All geared up for Zumba.[PHOTOS: MAXWELL AGWANDA/STANDARD]

This can take between six months to one year, depending on how often one takes classes. After that, one has to travel to the US or Europe for certification with a Zumba Educational Specialist (ZES)," explains Liz, who began as a student and is now teaching more than 300 people a week at various gyms and health clubs.

"Zumba instructors pay membership fee to access the music. Besides, we have a Zumba forum where the moves are standardised and the choreography sent to the instructors worldwide," says Josephine, a former student of Liz.

Josephine began training last September and is now training 100 people a week. Liz urges people to refrain from pirating Zumba music.

"Zumba is a protected brand. The certified instructors spend thousands of US dollars to go for training, then spend $30 (Sh2,500) per month towards Zumba Instructors’ Network membership. It is unfair that people are selling poor quality DVDs, tarnishing Zumba fitness image and ignoring the copyright warnings on those DVD’s," Liz says.

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