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Life Arts    H4'ed 6/13/10

Ready for Something Different? - Try Zumba!

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I am currently in Washington DC for the Network of Spiritual Progressives [NSP] conference. It will take me a bit to process what I have seen and heard. In the meantime, have a bit of fun with this.

I attended my first Zumba class about six months ago. I was immediately hooked. The large room was crowded with others who obviously shared my enthusiasm, including an 82-year old woman. I've been fascinated by this phenomenon ever since. My guest today is my Zumba instructor, Suzy Crawford. Welcome to OpEdNews, Suzy. Please tell our readers exactly what Zumba is and why it's become the latest exercise craze.

Suzy at work

Zumba is sweeping the world as a great way to get in shape and have fun all at the same time. Fusing Latin and international music into a one-hour, feel-it-to-the-core, calorie-burning, fitness experience. Most songs incorporate three moves that repeat with the chorus and the verse. The best part is when we shake our booty!

You'd already been a fitness instructor for a number of years before you started with Zumba. When did Zumba first show up? And did you immediately sense its potential?

I first discovered Zumba in November of 2006. As a full-time fitness professional, I have to keep my certifications current and must attend continuing education workshops. I was at a fitness convention (yes, they have these) in Rosemont and enrolled in a workshop called Zumba. I didn't have any idea what to expect. I was hooked after the first five minutes. When that music started playing and our hips started moving, I knew this was my kind of class! I smiled for the whole hour. I even left the workshop and immediately texted a fellow instructor with one word - Zumba!

You're not the only one who's gaga over Zumba. At the Y [McGaw YMCA, Evanston], the classes are wildly popular, aren't they?

The numbers continue to grow. It seems like no matter how many classes get added, it is still the most popular class on the schedule at the Y. This is also true at the other locations that I teach. Just look at the numbers and class sizes. Across the board, Zumba truly has taken group exercise by storm. But why wouldn't it? Where else can you work out and party at the same time!?

Besides the more conventional health club venues, you've taken Zumba in an unlikely direction. Can you tell our readers about Club Zumba? And, whose idea was it, anyway?

Club Zumba was conceived by myself and my fellow ZIN member Iida Borges. We were tossing around ideas of how to give Zumba the feel of a night club. We agreed that people love to go out and dance but don't necessarily want everything that goes along with that scene. We wanted a place that was local, that was user-friendly and supported the local businesses. SPACE was the place! S.P.A.C.E. is a live music venue located in Evanston, inside the Union Restaurant. Those of you who have lived here a long time will remember it as Khaki! Iida knew the head man there and when we arranged a meeting for the first time, it turns out I knew him too!

We all agreed that Zumba would be a good fit for S.P.A.C.E. We would start with three dates, the first one being December 14, 2009. We would do a 1-1/2 hour class on a Monday night when the venue is "dark." Iida and I promoted it with flyers and emails and word of mouth. The first event sold out before the start time of the class. We were so excited/grateful that it was a success. We have done a class on the second Monday of every month since then. We are having growing pains, as all new ventures do, but I think we are slowly working them out. Overall, I think there is a 95% satisfaction rating.

What's ZIN? And yes, I used to shop at Khaki. I remember it well. Like marathons and 5 and 10k walks, Zumba has also caught on as a fund-raising tool. Give us a few examples of the causes Zumba has supported.

ZIN is the Zumba Instructor Network. Zumba has become an amazing fund-raising tool. I have personally participated in "Zumbathons" for American Cancer Society, NEDSRA (Northeastern DuPage Special Recreation Association), and the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. If you google "Zumbathon," you will get 114,000 results - everything from Haiti Relief to the Tennessee flood victims.

The people who come to Zumba initially are curious to see what it's all about. But the people who keep coming back are people who enjoy moving to music. Whoever that is, be it marathon runner or housewife, Zumba gives us a creative, yet structured way to let that out that desire to move. It should be easy to follow and the music should be the star. As the instructor, I lead my students through the moves, but I also let the music be the front "wo/man".

Everyone can Zumba. It's a safe place to express yourself and just move! There are no rules. Follow if you like or just groove! We want you all.

Here's a sampling of comments from Zumba enthusiasts:

...The Zumba classes and events include people from different cultures, all ages, all body sizes, dancing abilities, gender and experience - and Suzy welcomes us all!

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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