Strictly Zumba Dance: Have you caught the latest latin bug?

Zumba is an amalgamation of various dance forms, including salsa, calypso, mambo and others – with even a dash of flamenco thrown in for good measure! As if all that wasn’t varied and exciting enough, some teachers also incorporate elements of belly dancing and hip hop.

The reason it’s so good for your body is that it combines slow and quicker rhythms, so you get a combination of cardio-vascular exercise and resistance training – to tone up and burn fat. Zumba targets each major muscle group in the body, and a single class can get rid of hundreds of calories.

Many people who learn have such a great time, that they exercise for longer than with other activities.

But, because it’s low impact for your joints – and won’t stress your knees or ankles – there’s almost no risk of injury. (However, it’s still a good idea to wear a decent, lightweight pair of shoes, with cushioning and shock absorption, and proper arch support.)

You’ll gain strength, confidence and sheer pleasure from zumba dancing – the music alone will be enough to put a smile on your face! The steps are easy to follow, the music infectiously motivating and the whole thing hugely energetic. And you won’t need a partner as you would for, say, traditional salsa.

Whether you’re 17 or 70, a Lycra lover, or firmly in the baggy tracksuit bottoms and T-shirt camp, you’ll get a kick (and a wave, shimmy, weave and shake) out of zumba dance.

It all began in Colombia, started by Beto Perez, an aerobics teacher who has also devised dance routines for the likes of legendary compatriot pop star Shakira.

He forgot the music for his class one day, so was forced to improvise his class around the music he happened to have with him – namely traditional Latin salsa and merengue.

The class was a massive hit, and Perez realised he had stumbled on something special, with his unique blend of aerobics and dance, set to a lilting Latin beat. He went to live in the States, and the rest is dance history.

There are now an estimated 10 million aficionados worldwide. With thousands of teachers in dozens of countries, the chances are you can learn the fast, furious and fun movements at a class near you.

There are different types of zumba dancing – from zumbatonic, aimed at children aged between 4 and 12, with its urban dance style influences – to zumba toning, a mix of body-sculpting techniques and zumba moves, which concentrates on calorie-burning and strength-training.

You can even take the plunge, and choose water-based Aqua Zumba. Find the style which suits you best.

Look online, for a class at a location and time that suits you. With many places offering free taster sessions, there’s no better time to put on your zumba dance shoes!

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