Zumba is the new fitness craze all around the world. Zumba is dancing and swinging to Latin music, and students have so much fun, they don't realize they're burning calories and losing weight.
Zumba has made it to Monett and has gained a huge popularity. Rendy Smith is the Zumba instructor at the Monett YMCA.
"I began instructing in July 2009," Smith said. "I started with one night a week at the YMCA, and it has now jumped to four nights a week."
According to Smith, classes average 25 to 30 students. On a slow night, they have approximately 18.
Zumba was started by a professional dancer and fitness trainer from Colombia, South America, named Alberto Beto Perez. As the story goes, one day he forgot to bring his aerobics music to his class and improvised by grabbing some Latin tapes that he had in his car. At first people didn't know what to do, so he just told them to move. That class became a big hit and soon was in huge demand.
It was originally named "Rumbacize." As soon as Beto arrived in the United States in 1999, he was approached by two entrepreneurs, Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion. They changed the name to "Zumba" and began selling the idea worldwide. By 2002 the first Zumba fitness videos and DVDs were being sold, and at the same time, Zumba began training instructors.
Smith began going to a class and realized how much she liked it. The Monett YMCA approached her and said they needed an instructor and asked if this was something that she would be interested in. Smith received her certification in Kansas City.
"It has become very popular, and it is exciting," said Smith. "All of my students love it, and their energy level is great. It makes the hour go by fast and a lot of the students would go longer."
The age of students ranges from 16 to 60.
"You work so hard to try to keep up you are not paying any attention to anyone else." said Smith. "I watch my own feet in the mirror, so I don't mess up. It's a great way to work out. I don't like the treadmill, so this is something different and enjoyable."
Zumba fitness is a dance exercise program that keeps everyone motivated by creating a party-like atmosphere. Instructors take their students through a combination of dance steps such as merengue, reggaetone and salsa.
"I like to throw in some belly dancing, all kinds of different styles, African, hip hop," Smith said. "I want to make sure everyone has fun.
The Zumba program gives the instructors selected CDs of music and ideas for choreography. The instructors are in charge of what to bring to the class.
"Zumba gives you a cardio work out, because you are constantly moving and dancing," said Smith. "On an average you will burn anywhere from 500 to 900 calories per session. The more familiar you are with the moves, the faster you can go. Zumba also tones your stomach because of the twisting."
Smith added that the correct footwear is very important. The soles of the shoes need to be smooth to allow easy turning. You should not wear shoes with treads.
Smith instructs year round and will be going to the annual Zumba convention this summer to receive her certification in different levels. One of the levels will be Zumba Gold for older adults. The basic II class does a little more of the belly dancing and moves that are not done in the regular classes.
Smith began dancing when she was young with tap and ballet. She continued with the tap after becoming an adult.
Smith said there is another instructor at the YMCA who recently received her certification and another student that is getting certified.
The YMCA in Cassville is also getting a Zumba certified instructor.
"Zumba is now in 75 countries, and there are more classes popping up the southwest Missouri area," said Smith. "You can dance at your own pace, get fit and have fun."
Monett YMCA Zumba classes are offered from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and 5:30 to 6:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For more information, call the YMCA at 235-8213.