Do you consider exercise fun? No? Well, then maybe you should try Zumba — a Latin-based exercise routine that feels like a big dance party that invites you to get your sexy on with its signature pelvic pumps, bumps and thrusts.

“Zumba is the most fun you’re ever going to have in an exercise class,” says Aggie Henry, fitness instructor at Ocean City Aquatic and Fitness Club.

Henry describes the music as high-energy and upbeat. Show up for class and before you know it, you’re cha-cha-cha-ing all over of the floor. Best of all, you’ll have a smile on your face.

“If my clients aren’t using their hips, I’ll look at them and say, ‘You’ll look a lot hotter if you try,’’ she laughs. “But it’s a no-judgment zone. We’re out to have fun and to sweat.”

Total body exercise

Zumba works every part of the body: the core (those pelvic moves have a purpose); arms (they’re never not in motion) and legs (squats are routine).

Depending on how hard you work, you can burn anywhere from 500 to 700 calories in an hour, Henry claims.

Unlike most other exercises — running, swimming, spinning, rowing — Zumba requires you to move in multiple directions — forward, backward and side to side, as well as squatting and lunging. “There isn’t a spot Zumba doesn’t work,” Henry says.

Sometimes Henry and her class will do 90 squats in a workout. “Now if I told my classes we were going to 90 squats ahead of time, they would groan and moan,” she says. “But with Zumba, we do that number of squats regularly and nobody even realizes it.”

Zumba calls on various dance styles, including merengue, salsa, cumbia, flamenco and tango. Although much of the dancing and music are Latin American, classes also use music and moves from hip-hop, pop and jazz.

In addition to her Latin American playlist, Henry incorporates popular tunes such as Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” and Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Music” into some routines. “People just have a ball when that music starts,” she says. “It’s so much fun to see the smiles on their faces.”

International following

Beto Perez, a Colombian choreographer and aerobics instructor, is the founder of Zumba, which had its beginnings in the ’90s. Zumba now has an international following and has been part of Ocean City Aquatic and Fitness Club’s scene for the last five years.

Henry, 63, teachers four Zumba classes per week. “I love it,” she says. “I have six-pack abs, and my arms are the strongest they’ve ever been.” She also teaches line dancing, step and routinely trains with weights.

Still hesitating because you think Zumba is just for dancers?

“It’s for people of all ages (and) the steps are not complicated ... you pick them up fast,” Henry assures. “You don’t need to be a dancer.”

You just need a willing spirit and a desire to try it. Once you do, you’ll never think about exercise in quite the same way again.


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