Lifestyle

HEALTHY YOU – Zumba popular and fun fitness trend

Fitness instructor Carolyn Hancox-Barr, owner of Northridge Health Performance Centre, centre, along with Barbara McNicholls, left, and Lida Gauthier, show off one of the moves from a Zumba class.  - Jenn McGarrigle photo
Fitness instructor Carolyn Hancox-Barr, owner of Northridge Health Performance Centre, centre, along with Barbara McNicholls, left, and Lida Gauthier, show off one of the moves from a Zumba class.
— image credit: Jenn McGarrigle photo

As soon as the first beats of the Latin dance music came on, I felt the urge to tap my toe and sway my hips.

But I was nervous. It was the first time I had ever taken a Zumba Fitness class and I was worried about looking foolish.

The latest fitness trend in the Harbour City, Zumba is a Latin-inspired cardio fitness class that combines dance and fitness moves in a party-like atmosphere.

Instructor Carolyn Hancox-Barr, owner of Northridge Health Performance Centre, started the class off with some fairly basic moves, but just as I was starting to figure out the fast-paced footwork and throw in a bit of attitude, she switched it up and threw another combination of moves at us.

The other participants in the packed class – all women except for one older gentleman – were all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities, and as the first song progressed, I realized two things: that I wasn’t the only one struggling with some of the routine and that no one was looking at what anyone else was doing.

They were just having fun and shaking their booties as best they could.

So I did the same. I just went with the music, got my hips swivelling and tried to keep in step, but didn’t worry too much when I didn’t.

It felt a little like a night out dancing with the girls, only I got to try that move I saw in a Ricky Martin music video in a non-judgemental atmosphere.

Halfway through, I realized how hard I was working – my blood was pumping and I was sweating – but the upbeat music kept me energized and wanting more.

Because I was concentrating on the moves and enjoying the music – the playlist included salsa, swing, rock ‘n roll, disco, merengue and Bollywood songs – the hour flew by.

After the class, Hancox-Barr told me it takes people an average of five classes before the steps start to come easier.

“Just have fun, enjoy the music, be a little silly,” she said. “It is definitely the most popular trend. It’s now in almost every country in the world.”

Zumba has brought the fun back to workouts and it also relieves stress and burns more calories than a regular fitness cardio class, said Hancox-Barr.

“The reason is we’re using a lot more core – we’re using everything,” she said.

Hancox-Bar said every instructor brings their own flavour to Zumba – instructors have the freedom to make up their own choreography – so it is a different experience with each one.

Another huge trend in the fitness industry – and one that attracts a different crowd than Zumba – is boot camp-style classes.

Nanaimoites are also big on yoga, spinning and all-over body sculpting classes, she said.

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