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The Zumba Massive



Zumba was launched just over ten years ago, in a bid to get us to "Ditch the workout and join the party".
We'd never seen anything quite like it before - a workout that not only worked, it made us look and feel sexy and able to impress our friends with a new-found knowledge of obscure reggaeton. During our weekly Zumba class we're transformed from an English rose to a Latina siren with the help of Beto Perez and his team's hot combination of hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, martial arts, and some Bollywood and belly dance moves. Phew - it's exhausting even SAYING such a sentence, let alone doing an hour's dance workout combining all of these styles and more.
Legend has it that Beto Perez, a Colombian dance and fitness instructor, forgot his workout tapes for an aerobics session in the late 1990s and so decided to improvise by using the Latin music cassettes he had in his car. From there, Zumba was born. This story has never been validated but who cares? It's all part of the feel-good worldwide phenomenon that is Zumba. And what a phenomenon it is - you can barely move for posters advertising classes at local town halls and everyone knows at least one person who is Zumba-crazy. Like iconic movements before it, Zumba has touched the lives of many.
The inevitable bandwagon came along as Zumba has spawned a multitude of spin-offs and copy cat workouts. Just Jhoom! is a Bollywood style dance and fitness programme; Booiaka is a hip hop based workout; Bokwa is a cardio workout using steps structured as letters and numbers and with no choreography; and Masala Bhangra is a modern take on Bhangra with an added fitness bonus. And we're just at the tip of the iceberg - there are many more "dance based fitness workouts" and why not? If these funky, fun and sexy variations on Zumba are encouraging people to get up, get out there and get fit then they can only be a good thing.
But we should never forget where we came from. Dance and fitness instructors up and down the country recognise that there is only one Zumba. And whilst some may prefer the heavier base of Booiaka or the easier steps of Bokwa, nothing will replace this enduring worldwide phenomenon.