According to Tracy Sabatino of Cadiz, you can.
“Zumba® fitness is a party in a workout,” said Sabatino, who was instrumental in bringing the fitness trend to Trigg County.
Lucy Oliver of Cadiz couldn’t help but laugh a little at that description.
“I’m not sure I’d call any exercise a party,” said Oliver, who’s been attending Zumba classes for the past year, “but it’s tons of fun.”
WHAT IS ZUMBA?
Zumba fitness, created by Colombian fitness expert Beto Perez, utilizes Latin-inspired dance moves to create a high-intensity, cardio workout that burns between 500 and 800 calories per hour. Those numbers recently earned Zumba fitness the number three spot on Yahoo!’s list of top six, calorie-burning workouts.
Every Tuesday and Thursday at 5:30 p.m. as many as two dozen women converge on the Convention Center at the Trigg County Recreational Complex for an hour of stretching, lunging and jumping led by certified instructors Amy Fortin and Nicole Vasquez, both of Hopkinsville.
Fortin has been teaching Zumba classes for the past five years in Hopkinsville. About a year ago, she was encouraged by Sabatino to lead a Trigg County group.
“I went to Amy’s class in Hopkinsville and just loved it,” Sabatino said, “but it was a challenge to get there. So, I started seeing how much interest there was for a class here.”
Sabatino didn’t have much trouble finding women willing to sign on to the idea, and Trigg County women have been joining the fitness revolution ever since. An hour may seem like a long time for an exercise routine, but according to Stacie Oakley of Cadiz, it passes quickly.
“It goes by so fast you don’t realize you’re exercising,” she said. “If you put people in a class and say, ‘Jump rope,’ it’s no fun,” Fortin said. “But there’s something about the music that gets everybody to jump and jump and jump.”
Almost all of the moves Fortin teaches are Latin dance steps, although she adds some of her own choreography as well.
“We do some salsa, cumbia from Columbia, the Brazilian samba, mambo, meringue, belly dancing, and even hip-hop,” said Fortin, who trained with Zumba’s creator to earn her certified instructor’s license.
“It really is kind of like going to a dance club,” Oliver admitted.
IT’S FOR ANYBODY
The list of dances may seem daunting, but Fortin insists anybody can do it. “Any size, any shape, any age,” she said. At the beginning of each song, Fortin demonstrates the moves with low, middle and high-impact options for each. Accuracy is not the goal. The important thing is to keep moving.
“You just start with a level you’re comfortable with and work up from there,” Oakley said. “One lady in my office is 65. She loves it.”
“We’ve had older women, even expectant woman,” Sabatino said. “Nobody should be intimidated. At first I stayed in the back of the class, but over time I got more comfortable.”
Sabatino now takes a spot in the front row. Others have had similar experiences.
“After a couple of times, I realized nobody’s watching me,” Oakley said. “Everybody’s watching the instructor.”
“You can dance like no one else is looking, because that’s what everyone else is doing,” Oliver said.
ZUMBA JOINS CURVES
Proving how adaptable Zumba fitness can be, Curves® has instituted a Zumba workout as part of their circuit training two nights each week.
“Most of our ladies are middle age or older,” said Faye Hainsworth, owner of Curves of Cadiz. “They love it.”
Certified Zumba instructor Arlene Jenks of Eddyville leads the workout at 5 p.m. and again at 5:45 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Curves’ 30-minute workout is an interval plan: one minute of strength training on an exercise machine followed by one minute of aerobic movement. Zumba fitness replaces the standard aerobic portion of the program’s circuit.
“I told our Zumba instructor that we’re a lot older,” Hainsworth said. “We didn’t want all that pelvic thrusting. We do lower-impact Zumba without all the crazy stuff.”
The result is a less intense variation of the Zumba fitness class, more of a “Zumba-lite.”
“It’s been a super addition,” Hainsworth said. “It’s added a new zest to our lives.”
Regardless of the variations, the benefits of Zumba fitness seem to be universal.
“I saw immediate results, and it’s awesome fun,” said Mitzi McNichols, who bought the DVD version of Zumba fitness to use at home. “I won’t stick with any exercise that’s not fun.” An obvious goal of any exercise routine is weight loss.
“I first went to a Zumba class because I wanted to lose weight,” Oakley said, “and I lost 11 pounds over the last year doing nothing else differently.”
The health benefits are measurable in other ways, as well.
“I feel physically better,” Oakley said. “I’m not as tired at the end of the day.”
“After one year, my blood pressure, which was already low, is 10 points lower,” said Sabatino, who wants to be healthy but often indulges in things that aren’t so good for her.
“I’m not going to lie. I like to eat the bad stuff. Zumba kind of balances it,” she said. “My jeans still fit.”
That’s a benefit that should appeal to all women.
“It works the whole middle section, the part women want to fix most,” Fortin said.
“I like to bike, but with kids it’s hard,” Sabatino said. “This time of year, riding outside is impossible, and indoors, it’s boring. This is my favorite way to exercise.”
That seems to be a common refrain.
“What is it they call it? Fitness in disguise,” Fortin said. “It’s a party atmosphere. I try to make it that.”
To try Zumba fitness, call Curves at 522-1227, try Amy Fortin’s class on Tuesday nights at the Convention Center – she offers the first class for free – or check out Nicole Vasquez’s class on Thursdays.