When Alex Perez forgot the aerobics music for his class, he had no choice but to step up the improv: Using salsa and merengue beats he had on hand, he created a new routine in the early 90s that 20 years later has taken gyms and dance studios the world over by storm. According to The Telegraph, over 20,000 instructors were teaching Zumba in 35 countries as of 2009. We signed up for a class with Edmonton’s Yuko Tanaka, a certified instructor, who noted that her own passion for Zumba as a student was so strong that, “I thought of getting certified which has been a great journey for me, professionally and personally”.
We sat down with Yuko to learn a bit more about the fitness craze after our first fist pumping, heart thumping Zumba class!
What are some Zumba benefits?
“Everything! Happiness! You burn calories and work out every single muscle group without noticing and you’ll have so much fun that you don’t even feel the work out until the next day! The music is contagious! You enjoy it so much -most of the songs in a Zumba class are Latin-based rhythms bringing a lot of sensuality- which boosts femininity and confidence! It makes you feel sexy and as a woman, who doesn’t want to be and feel sexy? It also keeps you alert and keeps your brain active, memorizing steps and paying attention for the next cue that the instructor gives.”
How many times per week should one do Zumba for optimal results?
“Everything that you include in your life you want to do it gradually, it’s the same with Zumba. Begin with one class, and then your body will tell you how much it can handle. Three classes a week, then five classes a week when you’re ready. I totally recommend doing Zumba five times a week! It’s great cardio and has amazing results, although you also need to give your body recovery time.”
What do Zumba beginners find most challenging?
“Some people are too shy to show up for class, other feel self-conscious and they don’t want to participate, others say that they have two left feet. Once they are there and they see how much everybody enjoys it, you’ll just go with the flow of the music and start to have a great time!”
What are some of the physical plusses?
“Zumba has a lot of hip movement which automatically engages your core. You can get a beautiful well-defined hourglass shaped waist because of the oblique work! You also get well defined and firm legs and buttocks from all the footwork that is applied during class. You’ll notice a beautiful back and arms with the routines that are designed to target those muscles- like the ones that incorporate tango, belly dance and flamenco songs.”