Fitness, Friendship and Fun! Let’s Zumba!
Walking past a local, women's fitness studio known to attract midlifers like me, I heard a lively merengue tune and poked my head inside. A closer look revealed that a Zumba class was in session. Wow! These women were really having fun.
One of the first times I had heard about the Zumba fitness craze was at a Silver Century Foundation dinner party. One of our expert advisers, Susan Welsh, a medical doctor responsible for drug safety worldwide at Pfizer Inc., had taken up Zumba as a vocational interest. A woman in midlife herself, Susan wasn't just taking classes—she had become a certified Zumba instructor. On top of this fascinating news came another surprise — my boss, SCF President Kay Klotzburger, takes Susan's weekly Zumba class at her health club.*
I was curious about how it all got started. Zumba is a Latin-inspired aerobic dance program that is wildly popular worldwide. It started by accident in the mid-1990s when a Colombian fitness trainer showed up to teach his class without his usual music. He substituted tapes from his personal collection, and Zumba was born.
Today, trained Zumba instructors get people moving to an energetic Latin beat and having so much fun, they might forget they are exercising. In fact, some classes are called dance parties. Along the way, instructors have adapted to the needs of a broader audience. Now the venues in my area have an entry-level class called Zumba Gold that’s great for all ages and levels of fitness, even for people who need to exercise while sitting in a chair. For those afraid of the impact on their joints, there’s Aqua Zumba—in the pool, of course. Zumbatomic is just for kids, and anyone with a Wii or game console can try it at home.
Classes are popping up all over and not just in pricey health clubs. I have seen daytime classes at the senior center and evening options at Weight Watchers headquarters. Even the local firehouse has a drop-in, no-commitment, weekly class.
A recent article in the New York Times suggests that overdoing Zumba is causing some injuries and recommends taking it slowly at first. (The Silver Century Foundation reminds you to always check with a health-care professional before starting or changing your fitness routine.)
Zumba may be a trend, like Jazzercise or Curves, but the music is wonderful, and it's a whole-body workout you can do, maybe with a friend, that feels more like fun than exercise. On your next Girls Night Out, take an introductory class and tell us what you think.
Here are a couple of clips to give you the general idea:
*Since writing this blog, Susan Welsh has changed jobs and is now working for Bristol-Myers Squibb and has had to stop teaching her morning Zumba classes because of her work schedule. My boss has gone back to taking low-impact aerobic classes.
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The Silver Century Foundation promotes a positive view of aging. The Foundation challenges entrenched and harmful stereotypes, encourages dialogue between generations, advocates planning for the second half of life, and raises awareness to educate and inspire everyone to live long, healthy, empowered lives.
"It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment; in these qualities old age is usually not poorer, but is even richer."
Cicero (106-43 BC)