Exercising takes new swing with Zumba

By Gus Bode

Known as a calorie-burning dance fitness party, Zumba has become the single most successful exercise program in the world.

With more than 110,000 locations throughout 125 counties, Zumba has attracted more than 25 million people to the workout. Inspired by Latin dance moves, the exercise blends rhythmic motions with aerobic techniques to create the fitness exercise.

Erin Wanserski, a graduate assistant at the Recreation Center and certified Zumba instructor, said the programs’ increase in popularity has been rising because it creates a fun and relaxed atmosphere with easy-to-learn moves.


“People are always scared it’s too much of a dance class and they’re not going to know what to do, but it’s really easy to break down,” Wanserski said. “It’s a great program that is getting really big all around the world.”

Like a trainer or coach in any sport, Wanserski said she has learned the tricks of the trade to make the class more fun and interesting while maintaining the group’s attention. She said it is a unique exercise program designed to appeal to a wide range of people.

Created in 2001 by aerobics trainer Alberto Perez, Zumba has now expanded through the past decade into people’s living rooms with the creation of a DVD series, fitness apparel and even an interactive video game. Zumba has grown to also include different styles of exercising and even takes shape in different settings.

As Zumba has expanded its fitness classes, the Recreation Center has also continued to expand its instruction courses offered on campus. The center offers the traditional Zumba Fitness Class; the Zumba Tone Class, which increases the intensity level with the addition of hand-held weights; and the Aqua Zumba Program, which is performed in a pool.

Margo Payne, a graduate student in therapeutic recreation, attends the Zumba tone class and said she was introduced to it by her friends, and she has now been participating in  classes on campus for a year and a half. Payne said she was first involved in the turbo kick fitness program but continued with the Zumba program because of the classes’ personal interaction.

“It’s fun and a lot of the moves are kind of sexy,” Payne said. “You can really get into it and it’s easy to learn.”

Kaia Pirazzini, a graduate student in outdoor recreation from Eau Claire, Wis., said she got involved in the class about two months ago and continues because it is different from traditional workout programs.


As a former dancer, Pirazzini said the class can be physically demanding at times, but she is often unaware of it until the class is finished because she enjoys the way the class is formatted.

“It is a workout but you don’t feel like you’re getting a workout,” Pirazzini said. “We all look super silly, but it’s really a great time.”