Fun of Latin beat makes Zumba a fitness favorite in Twin Cities
Apr. 14--BLOOMINGTON -- With Latin music pumping, 20 women danced, lunged, pumped their arms, gyrated their hips and let out an occasional "whoop." They were exercising but smiling.
When someone opened the door of the group exercise classroom at Four Seasons II during the 60-minute class to find out what all the noise was about, instructor Sarah Shipley called out "Come in and join the party!"
"The party" is the biggest fitness trend to hit Bloomington-Normal and beyond in several years, according to fitness professionals. It's Zumba and hundreds of people -- mostly women -- are taking it at several fitness centers.
Four Seasons alone offers 17 Zumba classes each week between its two Bloomington locations and the average attendance at each class is 30 people, said program manager Kelley Wickenhauser.
"It's an epidemic in Bloomington-Normal," she said. "It keeps growing."
Zumba is a dance-based exercise class set to Latin music, said Shipley, a group fitness instructor for 27 years. While it is an aerobics class that focuses on cardiovascular endurance, it also includes some strength training moves, working the arms, legs and abdominals, Shipley said.
"It's a place where women can go and dance and have fun and no one is judging them," said Juli Blumenshine, who teaches Zumba at Bloomington High School, McLean County Dance Association and Four Seasons.
"It's a workout but it's a fun workout and has some great Latin music," said Cheryl Krizman, group fitness coordinator at Gold's Gym, Bloomington.
Gold's began offering Zumba on March 1. "It's kind of become a craze. Our classes are full."
"It is by far our most popular and highly attended class," said
Zumba took off in the fall
Chris Weittenhiller, associate executive director of the Bloomington-Normal YMCA, Bloomington. YMCA began offering Zumba a year ago but it really took off in the fall and continues to gain momentum, he said.
Zumba traces its roots to Colombia and classes were introduced to the United States several years ago. Alyssa Danca, group fitness student supervisor and instructor at Illinois State University, introduced Zumba to Bloomington-Normal when she taught her first class at the ISU Recreation Center in fall 2007.
"It's been a hit since day one," Danca said. "It's a fun and dynamic workout for all fitness levels. I'm not surprised that it's growing and thriving. It's a workout that doesn't feel like a workout."
Zumba consists of a few basic salsa, cumbia, cha-cha and merengue dance moves but you don't have to be a dancer to take the class, Shipley said. During the March 31 class at Four Seasons II, some of the 20 women were first-timers and they generally had little trouble following Shipley's lead.
The first song is a warm-up. Then, the class alternates fast songs with medium-paced songs to create an interval workout in which the heart rate is brought up, slowed down, then brought back up again.
The value of an interval workout is the varied intensity increases cardiovascular strength and metabolism while burning a lot of calories, Wickenhauser said. The average person burns 450 to 500 calories in one hour of Zumba.
The class ends with slow, flowing movements and stretching timed to a slower song.
Shipley, 57, enjoys the broad spectrum of people who take the class. "Everyone leaves the class smiling."
"It's a Zumba high," Anne Bettendorf said after taking the March 31 class.
A perspiring but smiling Simone Brooks said after the class: "She (Shipley) kicked my butt!"
Brooks, 26, of Bloomington, is a professional dancer but said the class was a great workout for her. She enjoyed the music and dance moves and that she was able to add her own style to the moves.
Sally Whitcomb, 50, of Bloomington, is a third-grade teacher at Prairieland Elementary School who has been taking Zumba since November.
"I'm, like, obsessed," she said with a laugh. "I come four times a week. I've taken other aerobics classes before but this is the first one I've stuck with during the school year because it's really fun, there's no pressure and the class draws a diverse group of people."
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