Go the Zumba way

Go the Zumba way

Go the Zumba way
There’s no denying the cardio and muscular endurance benefits of doing Zumba. And then, there’s the huge incentive of burning up to 800 calories in an hour. However, for Sucheta Pal, the recently-appointed Zumba Global Brand ambassador, the biggest USP of this dance-fitness workout is its effectiveness in combating stress. The endorphin rush after a Zumba class is like no other, she insists.

To celebrate five eventful years of her Zumba journey, Sucheta invited her mentor and international presenter Maria Browning to India to embark on an eight-city tour (Mumbai, Kochi, Bengaluru, Goa, Ahmedabad, Gurgaon, Kolkata and Pune) this month. Here are the excerpts from an interaction with the two Zumba experts:

What inspired you to take up Zumba?

Maria: I moved from Colombia, my native country, to Kentucky 16 years ago. My sister, who lived near Miami (where Zumba initiated), started taking Zumba classes at her gym. And she fell in love with it! Sadly, there were no Zumba classes in Kentucky. So, I ended up becoming the first Zumba instructor in the state in 2006. Within two months, I was teaching 15 classes a week. Five months later, I became a master trainer. I had never felt so passionate about a job. Being able to help people live a healthier life was just perfect!

Sucheta: I discovered Zumba in 2010 in the US and got hooked for life. After becoming a licensed trainer, I taught Zumba classes in Connecticut for almost three years, till I was auditioned and selected to re-launch the programme in India in 2012. When I shifted base to India, the buzz around Zumba had just started. But Indians took to it immediately because of the music and dance factor, plus our need for alternate fitness formats.

What’s the secret to Zumba’s growing popularity?

Maria: Across the world, the biggest struggle for people is to commit to a workout. With Zumba, we just commit to having fun every day, and then we receive the added bonus of fitness and health benefits. The fun element is brought through the music and the easy choreography. The way Beto (founder Alberto ‘Beto’ Perez) has trained us to deliver the ‘party experience’ has made people take Zumba as their ‘me time’, instead of a workout.

What are the misconceptions surrounding Zumba?

Maria: There are usually more women than men in most Zumba classes. That’s because most men don’t invest as much time in cardiovascular exercise as they do in muscle strengthening (weight lifting).

Sucheta: It’s a misconception that bodybuilding is for men and dance-fitness for women. After all, Zumba was created by a man! And you don’t need to be a good dancer to join a Zumba class. The only pre-requisite is to have the motivation to move. In an-hour-long class, we get to move to rhythms from across the world — from salsa to tango and samba to Russian folk.

How do you train to be a Zumba instructor?

Maria: The training is two days long, for approximately 16 hours. We push our instructors to excel. However, there are many who take the training because they love Zumba, but they don’t pressure themselves to start teaching classes soon. Regardless of what your purpose is, taking the Zumba b1 training is an experience that will change your life.

Sucheta: There’s also a monthly continuing education programme called ZIN, which ensures that instructors are constantly upgraded. Through this programme every month, Zumba instructors get pre-choreographed exclusive songs and music. Around 145 Zumba® education specialists across the world conduct this rigorous, yet fun training.

How is Aqua Zumba fitness different from regular Zumba?

Maria: Choreographing movements in water comes naturally to me because of my 15-year experience in the national synchronised swimming team in Colombia. I also trained with top aqua fitness presenters, such as Joao Regufe and Ricardo Maia in Portugal and Silvia Senati in Italy. For every move done in the water, you are working on muscle resistance. However, the cooling properties of water will not allow your heart rate to go as high as in a regular Zumba class. So, Aqua Zumba provides a little less cardiovascular training in exchange for a lot more muscle toning exercise.

What’s your fitness mantra?

Maria: I complement my Zumba workouts with yoga and weight training at least twice a week to ensure that I am in the best physical condition to continue to inspire others.

Sucheta: I get my cardio and muscular endurance training with Zumba. Thrice a week, I make it a point to do weight training, either body-weight or free weights. Also, as I struggle with flexibility, yoga has been my saviour.

What has your experience in India been like?

Maria: The whole experience has been surreal so far! Seeing the growth of Zumba in India makes me proud beyond words!

Sucheta: My role is two-fold. One is to ensure that the next phase of growth for Zumba in India comes not only from metros, but also from tier-two and tier-three cities. The other is to ensure that India is recognised as a key growth market and is given due recognition in Zumba’s growth plans. The number of instructors has doubled from last year and over 10,000 classes are active at any point in India.
 
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