Zumba!

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Four months ago, I walked into a Zumbathon hosted by Piranha Fitness benefitting The Princess Project not having a clue what Zumba was except some kind of exercise. The music was too loud, I learned 42 ways my hips didn’t move, and I signed up on the spot. That kind of sums up Zumba.

Four months ago, I walked into a Zumbathon hosted by Piranha Fitness benefitting The Princess Project not having a clue what Zumba was except some kind of exercise. The music was too loud, I learned 42 ways my hips didn’t move, and I signed up on the spot. That kind of sums up Zumba.

Earplugs cured the volume thing, and I’d say I’m down to about 12 ways my hips don’t move, but hey, they’re Gaelic. It takes a while to overcome centuries of isolation from Latin influence.

What hasn’t changed is the extraordinary demographics of Zumba classes at Piranha Fitness. I’ve sweated next to as many college students as other women clearly joining me in the 50+ & Fabulous category, plus a few preteens and teens who come with their moms. Men are the only scarcity in the otherwise all-over-the-map age and ethnic appeal of Zumba. For a laugh-out-loud explanation of this anomaly, I highly recommend the “Should Men Do Zumba?” article by Joe Donatelli on LiveStrong.com recently posted on Piranha’s Facebook page. Donatelli ultimately decides the answer is yes, mostly because once you get the moves figured out, Zumba is an intense cardio workout if you want it to be.

Which is probably the secret to its appeal: you can go as hard or as easy as the music (and your body) moves you. Owner Lindsay Cobb just celebrated Piranha Fitness’ one-year anniversary and even she has been surprised with the diversity of her classes. Piranha’s pricing structure ($14.95/month, no contract, unlimited fitness classes) is clearly aimed at bringing an affordable fitness outlet to underserved markets, and members can upgrade to include power training, which involves Olympic weightlifting. Cobb also offers Piloxing (a hybrid of Pilates, boxing and dance) and yoga classes at the fitness level. It’s a combination that’s working for both her sold-out evening power training classes and her Zumba devotees. As a young entrepreneur, Cobb is already looking for the next exercise trend with recorded and eventually streaming video workouts in the works.

From the start, Cobb also has incorporated fundraising into her business plan, hosting Zumbathons for nonprofits that want to raise funds and fitness. Up next is the Party in Pink Zumbathon scheduled for October 13, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The $10 admission goes to Susan G. Komen for the Cure; no membership required.

While I’m still loyal to my workout buddy and our trainer Coach Cliff, I’m also loyal to Zumba. It’s a flashback to my Eighties aerobic instructor days if I’d played Latin music instead of Michael Jackson. It’s a full-body sweat. I get to compete against my own hips.

So what is Zumba and why do 8-year-olds to 68-year-olds like it? Guess you’ll just have to walk in and find out for yourself.

-Angelique Gammon