Fitness & Health

Dancercise: free Zumba fitness on campus

Photo credit: Mico Mazza

The cold may seem like it’ll never go away, but students at the University of Ottawa are heating things up with a little taste of Latin flavour.

The tagline for Zumba sessions on campus is “ditch the workout, join the party,” and the dance fitness workout leaves cardio-seekers smiling and sweating throughout the class.

What is it exactly? Zumba is dancercise: you dance to Latin and international music, incorporating all kinds of moves including salsa, belly dance, and hip-hop.

The relatively new dance form was invented by accident in Miami by Colombian dance teacher Alberto “Beto” Pérez. Even though Pérez is known as the creator of Zumba, he originally taught Latin dance and aerobics. He taught aerobics for several years, but one day he forgot his music, and decided to use his Latin tunes as a substitute. That one class was the beginning of Zumba.

Yet, even though this class was a hit, Zumba never picked up until the last few years. It was only until 2007 that Zumba went internationally, and people started saying, “I want to be an instructor like Beto.”

Usually, a Zumba class can cost anything from $13 to $20. But the U of O offers free group fitness Zumba classes several times a week. You can start or end your day with some sweet Latin music and forget how terrible you are at dancing.

“It’s probably my favourite group fitness class offered by (the U of O),” says first-year student Keara Graham. “It’s just such a great way to start your day, it’s such high intensity, it gets your heart pumping, and it’s such a great activity to do with your friends.”

Though the idea of dancing can scare away those with two left feet, first-year student and regular Zumba participant Emma Thompson explains that Zumba teaches you how to dance.

“I found that I could actually dance after doing Zumba for a bit,” she says. “You get to dance to pretty good music, and Zumba parties are fun. It’s a really good way to exercise and have fun. You get fit without the pain of working out.”

Overall, Zumba is easy, exciting, and energizing. Fast or slow, the music is upbeat and the choreography is easy to follow, making Zumba a truly enjoyable workout.

Classes on campus are held at Minto Sports Complex and Montpetit, Tuesdays through Saturdays. They are a great place to start, especially to give yourself a break between your studies.