Remember those Jazzercise classes you used to take back in 1989? Or at least the ones your mom did? There were body suits, pop music, and high energy? Well, imagine that Jazzercise and the rumba scenes from the movie Mad Hot Ballroom fostered a child — that child would wind up being Zumba. Is this craze picking up anywhere else, or is it strictly an Orange County phenomenon? I’ve noticed there are plenty of unique aspects to Orange County, and Zumba just seems to be another in the mist.
I went to Zumba tonight with my friend Erin, her mom, and our friend Janece–we were the most eclectic group in the mix; otherwise, it was an OC Housewife zone. But given the fun we had, the demographic market is sure to shift towards the younger crowd. I was pretty much hooked from the first beat. All the music is in Spanish, and the only word I could recognize in the blur of rhythm and hip swirls was “Zumba!” Various sources on the information highway report that “Zumba” literally means, “it hums” or “move it!” Either way, I think it is meant to be an inspirational message rather than simply an exclamation.
Here is what Zumba is not: high impact, complicated in the grand scheme of dance aerobics, or quiet. Zumba was high energy, very low impact, and focused only on the middle of the cardio scale. Like any Jazzercise class, Zumba started off slow, raised heart rates and the tempo, and then returned to a walking pace as the class ended. If you’ve taken an aerobics class, you know this is expected aerobic behavior, much like porridge eating is expected Goldilocks behavior.
Our instructor, a shorter, man with a flair for Latin movements even when he wasn’t teaching Zumba, was definitely saucy — I think personality is required to instruct this sort of energy based fitness style. His hip-swivels were something to aspire to, as were his coy yet salatcious facial expressions.
Would I recommend Zumba? Sure, if it’s in the range of motion you are looking for, or if, like me, you’re just looking to diversify a set routine that you worry about becoming stale. Maybe this is nostalgia speaking, but I’d rather head back to Vicky’s Jazzercise in Daly City — there was strength in addition to cardio, and more impact for a more productive workout.
And if you want an actual demonstration, check out the Today show’s take on Zumba below. Or if you just want to watch the Today show, see below too. I sort of giggle at the Today show–it reminds me of a morning version of 20/20.