DANCE-FITNESS WAS NOT MY BAG
I’m a group fitness junkie, but dance-fitness in particular can be a hard sell for me. To be perfectly honest, I’m not very graceful and feel foolish when my footwork is out of sync with everyone else in class. Normally, I choose the no pain, no gain approach and grunt out push-ups in boot camp instead of getting fit through dancing.If I can’t do it right, what’s the point?
This is how I felt until I read an article about U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin and realized I was missing something. When questioned about her exercise regimen in the New York Times, Benjamin answered: “I want exercise to be fun; don’t want it to be work…I want us to get back to doing things because they’re fun.”
My grand epiphany from Benjamin’s insight is that dance isn’t work in the same way other fitness disciplines are, and that you can’t worry about getting all the steps right because the most important thing is to let go and enjoy it. I decided to take the plunge and head over to Red Bean Studios in Manhattan’s neighborhood of Chelsea to experience my first Zumba class taught by Misty Clark of M Dance & Fitness.
ZUMBA IS ADDICTING EVEN IF YOU CAN'T DANCE
Just in case you haven’t heard, Zumba is the hottest dance-fitness trend to hit in years. It’s a Latin-inspired, calorie-burning program of short dance sequences set to an array of international beats, from salsa to bhangra. Launched in 2001 by onetime aerobic instructor, Alberto "Beto" Perez, Zumba is a global movement that’s extremely popular with women.
The word on the street is that once they try it, women get hooked on Zumba, so it’s no surprise that my class is entirely comprised of women. As soon as the music starts, my class is brought to life with the help of the instructor’s easy-to-follow lead. My female counterparts go with the flow, letting their personality and style dictate each move. There’s no strain, no sacrifice and no grunting. The dance sequences are so fluid that mess ups go unnoticed. Check out Zumba ladies shimmying in one of Misty's classes below.
After class, Misty tells me that it takes three to four weeks for women to feel completely comfortable with the steps, but she likes to keep the choreography fresh anyway. It’s not about precision or mastery; women find their own groove in Zumba and that’s why they come back. The rhythm and variety of Zumba inspires women to let go of stress, have fun and dance.
Even though Zumba is a great core workout that burns hundreds of calories, women are finding allure in its mood-boosting benefits. This is the main draw for Surgeon General Benjamin, who calls dance exercise “better than most pills.”For once, fitness is about happiness--not weight loss. This is a huge step in the right direction for health and wellness measures in the US. It’s hard to say no to fitness that’s fun.
It's also hard to say no to $5 Zumba classes at M Dance & Fitness in NYC! Especially when they usually cost $15. Throughout the month of February, receive a MizzFIT Reader discount for $5 Zumba classes at M Dance & Fitness when you use this code at checkout: MZF2011. The MizzFIT Reader discount code is good for 1 class only per person. Sign up for class HERE.
HOW TO STYLE UP 4 ZUMBA & GET IN THE GROOVE
Style Up 2 Shape Up for Zumba by dressing in bright, Latin-inspired layers that you can shed as your body heats up in class. Definitely choose fitness tights, leggings or capris, especially if it's your first time in class. You'll be moving around a lot--lifting your limbs and shaking your torso so I recommend pants for maximum coverage and comfort. I like these Studio Performance Tights from Adidas by Stella McCartney because the floral mesh detailing makes them more formal and fun than a basic black fitness pant.
Feeling flexible, ventillated and light on your feet for quick movements (i.e. shuffles, twists, turns, shakes) and energetic transitions is of utmost importance. Go for light and stretchy layers versus restricting ones like the Tri-Tank Top by Jo&Jax. Polish your look off with a fitted meSheeky fitness skirt for a twirly, feminine touch. These Ryka Sync Shoes are made for dancing; they're lightweight with a satin floral exterior that beats your clunky sneakers. Get inspired and find your groove with my favorite Zumba soundtrack: Party Nation: World Music By Zumba Fitness. Enjoy and shake away!
**This article in shorter form was featured on Fox News Latino Online HERE