Zumba, an aerobic dance class set to South American beats, is very popular in gyms and fitness clubs across Canada.“Zumba fitness was born from an accident. Colombia-born Alberto Perez was teaching an aerobics class in his native California in 1986 and discovered he had forgotten his usual music. So he dug through his bag of tapes and grabbed a mix of salsa and meringue music he personally liked to dance to, and his class just loved it,” said Tiffany Bourret-Meisner licenced teacher of Zumba, Zumba Kids and Zumba Toning. A mom and high-school English teacher by day and YMCA certified fitness instructor, Zumba teacher by night Bourret-Meisner has been teaching fitness classes for 18 years.
Zumba is safe for a range of ages and fitness levels because the steps can be modified so that it’s very low-impact. “Zumba is truly for anyone who can dance. Dance is a very liberal term here, as no dance experience or skills are necessary. I have teens to senior citizens in my classes. You’ll find a real sense of community. Maybe it’s because across Canada Zumba offers conventions, jams, and master classes. People really get involved,” said Bourret-Meisner. Most Zumba classes are 60 minutes long. The music comes from four main dance styles, merengue, salsa, cumbia and reggeton. Classes begin with a dynamic warm-up and end with a cool down and some static stretching. The workout portion is broken down by song, each with a different dance routine. There is muscle toning and resting movements built in between high-tempo, high-cardio songs. Unlike other aerobics classes, where you learn a move and then add on more moves to create a routine, “Zumba fitness is unique in that participants learn as they go through repetition and by example. We instructors don’t speak much. Instead we cue the class on what to do with hand signals, facial expressions, or a loud hand clap signifying it’s time to change to a new move. Overall, we draw from many types of international songs, and really any kind of dance style you can think of. I like a wide variety of music. It’s a total party atmosphere in the classroom. I don’t want to interrupt that vibe by calling out instructions.”
It’s important to wear clothing that is moveable, breathable and will wick sweat away. “Also, wear a pair of supportive sneakers that allow you to pivot your feet easily. There are dance fitness runners with a round circle near the big toe that make it easier to move. Bring a towel and a water bottle because you’ll need them,” said Bourret-Meisner. Most instructors give a short 30 to 60 second break between songs. “As a beginner, ask what you can expect from the class and where you should stand so that you can see the instructor’s full body. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t worry if you are unable to get all of the steps the first time around. No one does. Just keep coming back.” The steps will come easier after a few classes.
“Zumba is one of the highest energy workouts I’ve tried, and it’s the most fun, too. Most of the time it really doesn’t feel like you’re working out at all. You just get caught up in the fun of the music and the moves. Before you know it, a whole heart-pumping hour has passed.”
Please visit www.tiffany2.zumba.com