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Zumba! Ditch the workout, join the party

By Laura Traister
On February 23, 2014

For many people, especially those who are less athletically-inclined, mention of the gym conjures up images of torturous weight machines, intimidating looks from fellow exercisers, and long, boring runs on the treadmill.
But exercising doesn't have to be lonely or boring.
For those who view traditional ways of exercising as less than thrilling, Zumba is both a fun and effective way to be active.
Zumba has recently gained widespread popularity as an innovative and fun fitness program. The motto of Zumba Fitness is "Ditch the workout, join the party." The fitness program is based on Latin dance moves, but many instructors put their own spin on the workout choreography and include other styles, such as hip-hop.
The Center for Physical Activity on campus offers Zumba classes on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings.
Each class offered at ETSU is taught by a different instructor who may employ a slightly different style of dance, but all classes promise a lively and challenging workout.
Marissa Pace, a freshman who recently started attending Zumba classes on campus, said, "It's definitely a release for me physically and mentally."
She described the Zumba class she attends on Sundays as being a "good combination" of aerobic and toning exercise as well as being "very fun, very exciting."
"I can't stand cardio jumping jacks and just randomly running in place," Pace said. "I don't think that's fun, but I think what makes Zumba so appealing is that, you know, you just move. ... You move every part of your body and it's really fun, and you kind of feel like you're in more of a dance area, like a club space or with friends dancing. Especially if you go with your friend, it's silly because sometimes you look over and you have no idea what you're doing, but you're moving and it's fun."
But does it work? This is a valid question, and one that, according to their website, the American Council on Exercise has thought worth answering.
In an article titled "Zumba Fitness: Sure It's Fun But Is it Effective?" the organization cited a study conducted by Dr. John Porcari of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. The study concluded that Zumba is indeed an effective way to exercise.
"It's a total-body exercise - a good, high-energy aerobic workout. Zumba fitness is also good for core strengthening and flexibility gains because there are lots of hip and midsection movements," Porcari wrote.
In addition to being effective, Zumba classes are also supposed to be non-judgmental. Participants don't have to worry about looking great or staying exactly on pace with the instructor.
"I can never do the moves exactly the way the instructor does it, but I put my own twist on it, and it makes it fun for me," Pace said.
"It's just a mental release. I don't have to think about anything, I just move and I sweat and it's fun."

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