Dancing to the Latin beat
By Kathryn Purcell
Pulsating, vibrant music bumps the speakers, and a Spanish voice begins singing, accenting the Latin rhythm.
At the highly upbeat urging of their instructor, the women put down their water bottles, wipe the sweat from their brows and begin to dance…again.
Following the example set before them in the wall-sized mirror, the women begin clapping their hands, throwing their elbows and, conservatively, shaking their hips.
With some encouragement from the instructor, they begin to gain courage.
“Let that booty go, go, go; it’s not that fast.”
Before they know it, they’ve lost themselves in the beat of the cumbia music that blares through the stereo.
This is Zumba – “a Latin-inspired aerobics class that has become an international phenomenon,” according to information provided by Zumba instructor Page Burt.
Established in the mid 1990s by Alberto “Beto” Perez, a Colombian native and celebrity fitness trainer and choreographer,
Zumba Fitness features the Latin inspiration of traditional cumbia, salsa, samba and merengue music, coupled with some
Spanish-born flamenco and Middle Eastern bellydancing, according to Burt and the official Zumba Fitness Web site, www.zumbafitness.com.
With a background in professional ballet, personal training and aerobics instruction, Burt, a certified Zumba instructor, taught
Zumba classes in Greene County, with much success, and was inspired to bring the class to Madison.
Partnering with Pointe of Grace Dance Academy, located in the Beacon Heights Shopping Center, Burt began teaching the class in Madison several weeks ago. And, with each week, the class just keeps growing and growing.
There are typically between 10 and 20 people in the class, according to Carol Anderson of Pointe of Grace.
“Most are coming back,” Anderson said.
Burt works hard to make the dances digestible, so that those involved are able to put the moves and the music together quickly.
“I really work hard to read my class,” Burt said. “I break everything down…to simple, bite-size steps, where you feel like, ‘I can do it’…I don’t correct people on their steps. As long as they’re moving, it’s OK.”
Burt believes that the easy-to-follow instruction coupled with the inherent exposure to other cultures makes the class less like exercise and more like a party, for one hour in the morning two days a week.
“The reason I think people like it so much: they don’t feel like they’re working out,” Burt said. “It’s supposed to be like a party atmosphere.”
And it feels exactly like that for Zumba class member Susan Hallman.
“It’s fun and I don’t like organized exercise,” Hallman said. “You don’t feel like you’re exercising, but you are.”
Anderson, who also takes the class, believes in the element of fun built into the class as well.
“I think everyone’s doing what they can and they’re getting out of it what they can,” Anderson said. “I know I’m not stiff anymore.”
It seems that the Zumba Fitness motto – “Ditch the workout, join the party!” – rings true, which is exactly why the class is filling up and there is talk of adding additional Zumba classes to the schedule at Pointe of Grace. Zumba Gold classes, or Zumba Fitness classes designed for seniors, may also be added.
For now, though, Burt is slated to continue teaching Zumba at Pointe of Grace in Madison on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. For more information on the class, contact Burt at 706.817.8228 or Anderson at 706.474.0639.