By ALESHA CADET
Tribune Features Reporter
Created by Colombian dancer and choreographer Alberto Perez in the mid-90s, Zumba is a Latin-American fitness craze that has taken the world by storm.
Here in the Bahamas, its popularity soared in the 2000s, with fitness instructors putting their own twist on the cardio routine. Instead of just using Latin music, instructors have added soca, dancehall and even hip hop tunes to their programmes.
Both men and women have been enjoying this fun aerobic workout that mixes in dance moves, and have been participating in large groups at their various gym locations, parks, and even on the beach.
Popular Zumba instructors in the Bahamas are Maydi Bacallao, the duo of Tiana Rolle and Vanessa Perigord, Ana Sherman-Courtemanche, Patrice Murrell, and Coach Usha. You may have caught them at Jemi Fitness, Club One Fitness or at Evolve Bahamas.
But this Saturday they will all come together at the Meliá Nassau Beach All-Inclusive resort to take part in the Bahamas' first and biggest Zumba Fitness Concert.
It all goes down in the Independence Ballroom from 10am to 12noon. "It is the first time a team is coming together to host a Zumba concert in the Bahamas and we are about to show the Bahamas what Zumba is all about by having this big Zumba party," said Maydi Bacallao, the event's organiser.
"It was my vision to bring awareness of what Zumba is, introduce other Bahamian Zumba instructors, and to show the Bahamas that working out can be fun and addictive."
When asked about the health benefits of Zumba, Maydi said it involves a lot of calorie and fat burning, with people burning up to 850 calories per session. It also promotes endurance, improves coordination, boosts confidence and reduces anxiety, all the while offering a full body workout in a social environment inspired to get persons hooked on exercise, she said.
"Everyone can join in. It makes people happy and much more. The Zumba routines incorporate interval training, alternating fast and slow rhythms, and resistance training. It is a fun and effective workout that is taking the fitness world by storm and anyone can do it," said Maydi.
"Dancing and clapping and working up a sweat makes Zumba class more like a fun night out at a dance club with friends rather than a dreaded workout you can't wait to finish. There is only one rule: keep moving."
She truly believes the programme shows participants that they can dance themselves into shape and have a blast while doing so.
Maydi asks all participants in this weekend's party to keep in mind, this is not a "work out" - it is a " dance out."
"Five years ago I become a Zumba instructor and I've been teaching in various gyms. Now the Zumba classes are becoming very popular and this event is prefect to spread the fun by doing a big Zumba master class and use this opportunity to introduce the new Zumba instructors in the Bahamas. Everyone is welcome and there is lots of space and Zumba love to share. We are all hoping that after this event more people will join a Zumba class," said Maydi.
These sentiments are echoed by her fellow Zumba instructors.
For Vanessa Perigord, hosting Zumba classes has not only helped her achieve her own fitness goals, it has also given her a career. "I believe fitness should always be fun. Therefore, I always teach with high energy and make classes enjoyable for all clients," she said.
Her colleague Tiana Rolle said "Get Up and Dance" is most definitely her motto when it comes to Zumba. She believes it is not only a workout, but a way to relieve stress, have fun, tone and condition a person's body. "I love being a Zumba instructor, seeing my clients dripping with sweat and still smiling after each class is rewarding," she said.
Being a participant in Zumba was not enough for Ana Sherman-Courtemanche, she wanted to get in the front of the class and teach the dance moves.
An instructor for four years now, Ana said there is nothing more her waistline loves more than to move to a sweet soca beat. "I love to dance and I love watching others enjoy it along with me," she said.
Even before becoming a Zumba instructor, Patrice Murrell's music was getting people on their feet and dancing. The singer blazed onto the local music scene a few years ago with chart-topping hits like "Your Ting" and "Feelin' Good". It was just in the last year, that she decided to become a Zumba fitness instructor, and she describes the fitness programme to be just like her music - energetic, fun and sexy.
Tickets for this Saturday's Zumba party are now available at Jemi Fitness East in the Seagrape Plaza, Club One Fitness at Sandyport, and Evolve Functional Fitness on Rosetta and Madeira Streets.