The Zumba® Fitness Story and Classes at CA

I heard talk about Zumba® fitness classes before I even headed to the gyms. Just like Jazzercise, step aerobics, Tae Bo™, and others from the past, Zumba® fitness is the latest craze in aerobic dance.

Even the name Zumba® is fun. It means nothing quite literally. The creator, Beto Perez, sat down with his partners to come up with a name for his fitness vision and they worked their way through the alphabet trying different things and got all the way to Z and landed on Zumba®. And that was it.

What is the Zumba® program? It is a Latin-based fitness program that started quite by accident. Beto, a fitness instructor in Colombia went to teach his fitness class as he always did, but he realized he had forgotten his aerobics music. He had Latin rhythm music with him and decided to play those and improvise. Instead of counting repetitions, he danced more freely, teaching the class the moves as he went along. The class loved it and left smiling and refreshed. Something that started by accidentally forgetting music led to the realization that there might be something here to explore – Latin dance aerobics.

A few years later, Beto, already building success in Colombia, brought  Zumba® fitness to Miami, Florida in 2001 and began with fitness videos. By 2005 there was a Zumba® Academy training instructors as the demand for Zumba® fitness in the gyms skyrocketed. A few years later and there’s Zumbawear™ and even Zumba® video games and tons and tons of classes. There is Aqua Zumba®, Zumbatomic®, Zumba in the Circuit®, Zumba Fitness®, Zumba Gold®, Zumba Gold Toning®, Zumba Sentao® and Zumba Toning®. CA offers six of the eight programs at each of the three fitness facilities, all except Zumba Gold Toning® and Zumba Sentao®.

Instructors are trained at the Zumba® Academy and belong to the Zumba® Instructor Network (ZIN), but to teach at CA they also need to be nationally certified by one of the recognized certifying bodies. After training, instructors receive music monthly and videos of new fitness routines every other month.

Zumba® programs are very fluid and very instructor led, not program led. Instructors receive the music and videos, but they can use them however they wish as long as they follow the guidelines within ZIN. They can use old material, new material, or mix and match, therefore, taking a class with one instructor will be completely different than taking from another instructor. One instructor might prefer to use more songs with powerful, athletic moves while another instructor might prefer to teach the songs with more intricate footwork. So, when you take a class at 6pm Friday night at Columbia Gym, it will be different songs with different moves with a different instructor than it would be at the Athletic Club at 10:45am on Wednesdays. If you aren’t sure you like the class, try a different instructor and you might find you like their style better.

Zumba® Fitness classes are very popular at CA. Zumba® Fitness is taught 12 times a week. Zumba Toning® is taught 3 times a week. Zumba Gold® is taught 3 times a week. Zumba Circuit® is taught twice a week. Aqua Zumba® is taught twice a week. And Zumbatomic® is taught four times a week for kids.

Next I’ll be detailing each of the Zumba® classes as I take them.

Melissa Sinclair works in the Communications & Engagement Division at Columbia Association (CA). Melissa recently moved to Columbia with her three-generation family. She has lived in more than a dozen cities and is looking forward to making Columbia, Md., her permanent home! Click here to read more of Melissa’s Getting to Know CA series.


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