Events, features and things to do for families in New Hampshire
By Andrea Bushee Belanger
“It’s very addicting,” she said. “It’s just such a fun workout. You’re getting fit and having a blast.”
Zumba, often called a “fitness party,” involves Latin-based dance moves in a group class. It is different than a traditional workout and that is what appeals to many people, including Provencher of Hudson. She started taking classes at the Z Club in Nashua last May. Now she and both her children, Corey, 7, and Chloe, 10 are regulars at the club.
Her daughter even had a Zumba birthday party at the club with 15 attendees and Provencher plans to have her daughter’s Girl Scout troop try Zumba to earn their fitness badge.
Her children really got into Zumba as soon as they were introduced to it, Provencher added. They take Zumbatomic classes, geared for children at the club and they also join her in the adult classes. The family is able to work out together. No need for childcare or complicated scheduling, she adds.
Provencher also convinced her own mother to try it out, she adds.
“Anyone can do it,” she said.
She calls is a low pressure workout. Getting the moves on the first try is not the goal. Having fun and moving is what the objective is, and Provencher says she hears people laughing and having fun throughout each class.
Zumba started in the 1990s according to Zumba.com when fitness instructor Alberto "Beto" Perez, forgot his usual aerobics music and had to use his own mixed tapes of salsa and merengue during a class. “Spontaneously he created a new kind of dance-fitness, one that focused on letting the music move you (instead of counting reps over the music). Energy electrified the room; people couldn't stop smiling.”
Now Zumba is taught at 140,000 locations across more than 150 countries, according to the site. Many New Hampshire gyms offer Zumba classes and there are also Zumba instructors who teach in community centers or lease local business spaces.
Cheryl Stuart-Vail, is the owner of Z Club in Nashua, where she offers adult and children’s Zumba classes. The Children’s classes, called Zumbatomic are for Children ages 4 through 12. The children 12 and older tend to prefer adult classes. Zumbatomic reviews the dance steps individually, where adult classes move through each step non-stop.
Stuart-Vail says she uses all types of music, including the Latin and “world music” used in Zumba. In class she will also have children listen to “Surfing USA” and pretend to surf or pretend to drive a car while doing the steps to make it fun for them.
Julie Dolliver owner of Impact Cardioclub in Derry offers Zumba classes at the fitness center and says those who attend are mainly women 18 up to their 60s.
She also allows children around the ages 13 and older to join classes with a parent.
She started offering Zumba in November 2009. At that time people did not know about it yet, she adds, but by the following winter it had taken off.
“I think now it is seeing its peak,” Dolliver said. “I think it’s the highest calorie burning class out there right now. In my opinion it’s the biggest bang for the buck.”
According to Livestrong.com a 155-pound person taking a one-hour Zumba class could burn anywhere from about 400 to 600 calories.
Mariann Puopolo used weights during a recent Zumba toning class she instructs in Concord. Held inside a Concord Employee building, Latin music could be heard thumping down the halls near the class during the lunch hour workout.
She wore a headpiece with a microphone attached so the women in the class could hear any instructions and encouragement over the music. The women moved non-stop to music that changed from fast to slow during the class. She uses mainly Latin and hip-hop music while participants move, kicking, bending, stepping and moving their arms to the music.
The Mom of two started her business, Zumba Fitness with Mariann Puopolo, after receiving some encouragement from her husband. She took her first Zumba Class several years ago and loved it.
I have always loved exercise,” she said. “When I saw this class I took it and couldn’t believe it.”
Puopolo, 46, also loves dancing and has since she was a little girl.
She decided to train to become a Zumba instructor and has been teaching others since March 2011. She teaches adult classes at two locations in Concord and says she has had students in their late teens to early 80s. She has had students with little coordination and students with lots, and all have had fun.
She has also taught people of every size in her class and she encourages her students to find their own pace. She teaches both Zumba fitness and Zumba toning classes, and adds that one woman has lost two clothing sizes since starting Zumba toning.
“Anybody can do it, “Puopolo said. “It’s just about moving to the music and having fun.”
Andrea Bushee Belanger of Pembroke is a freelance writer and mom of two.