Fitness & Health

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Illustration by Julia Pancova

One student sweats it out at U of O Zumba class

THE GEE-GEES’ WEBSITE makes a pretty hefty promise regarding their Zumba classes: “This cardio fitness class, inspired by Latin and international dance, will guarantee smiling and sweating the whole way through!” I went into the experience with high expectations, and wasn’t let down in the slightest.

Behind the dance

The American College of Sports Medicine recently announced that Zumba has been listed as one of the top 10 fitness trends for 2012, with classes now being offered in 125 countries and more than 12 million people participating every week. Zumba, a dance workout more similar to a party than an exercise regime, was created in Columbia during the late ‘90s by fitness and dance instructor Alberto Perez. The exercise is touted as effective, high calorie-burning, and easy to follow.

Moves like Jagger

For those of you afraid you don’t have the technical abilities necessary for a class based on Latin dance, have no fear! My own mother once forbade me from auditioning for So You Think You Can Dance, because, as she rightly proclaimed, I have no rhythm.

Despite not being an aspiring Ginger Rogers, I was able to follow the choreographed routines without too many technical difficulties. Unlike other fitness dance classes, Zumba is based around the music, which includes hits from a variety of popular artists like Beyoncé and LMFAO. Rather than counting reps over the music, the music guides your movements—which include plenty of jumping, skipping, and sexy hip shaking—for an intense cardio workout interspersed with muscle-building fitness moves like squats and arm extensions.

This class is great for men and women, first years and tenured professors, people made of muscle and people (like me!) made of … less muscle. When the workout gets too intense, it’s easy to step instead of jump, and there’s no shame sitting out a song or two when you get exhausted.

Why it’s different. And awesome

First, can we talk about how free this class is to students and staff at the University of Ottawa? It’s completely free! These are quality, qualified instructors who work in other gyms and charge for other classes. If you can’t make it to any of the sessions, one instructor teaches drop-in classes at the YMCA for $6 a class.

It’s also an incredible workout, but the reason I ended up going three more times in the week after I attended my first class wasn’t because of the amount of sweat I knew was guaranteed to be gathering across my brow, down my back, and be- tween my toes (It’s not quite as disgusting as it sounds. You’ll feel accomplished, I promise).

No, the reason I kept going back is because the class put me in such an amazing mood for the rest of the day. You get to start off your day listening to awesome music, hearing compliments from the instructors, and shaking your butt! I’m never looking at the clock, and the hour goes by surprisingly fast. This is one of the first workouts I’ve found to be genuinely fun.
Zumba classes are offered Mondays 7–8 a.m., Tuesdays 8:30–9:30 a.m. and 12:15– 1:50 p.m., Wednesdays 5:30–6:30 p.m., and Thursdays 8:30–9:30 a.m. Double- check the schedule to see which studio you’ll be in. Classes are held at Montpetit and the Sports Complex. Bring a water bottle, comfy athletic shoes, and get ready to fall in love with the dance party craze!

—Ali Schwabe