‘Zoomba’… sounds like such an exotic word. This exercise/dance regimen actually is an alluring import originating in Columbia, South America. Zumba started in Colombia by accident in the 90s when dancer and choreographer Alberto Perez forgot the music for his aerobics class. In a pinch, he pulled out some tapes of salsa and merengue and a new fitness craze was born. Today, Zumba has certified instructors in more than 125 countries around the world, making it debut in the US in 1999 in Miami.
Participants learn some rather easy, basic movements compared to the somewhat complicated balance techniques or body poses of another foreign-now-local trend, yoga. The simplicity of the movements is part of the program’s appeal, and participants do not need a partner to learn or perform the basic dance steps.
Google “Zumba Classes Near Me” and a variety of locations pop up in the Rehoboth/Lewes corridor including the Midway Fitness Center, Everyone Fitness, the Sussex YMCA, and the Lewes Activity Senior Center where certified instructor, Pamm Pauley, teaches. Another instructor there, Cindy Beaver teaches LaBlast at the center but also teaches Zumba at the Y.
What’s the difference?
Both are dance-oriented. Another Google search will tell you that Zumba is anaerobic, with the same high heart rate the entire time, while LaBlast is an interval workout; it is more focused on cardio interval training.
“At the Lewes Senior Center and other local communities I currently teach at, the Zumba classes are low-moderate-high impact,” says Pauley. “I tell my students to modify to their needs meaning they do not have to do any jumping or turning if they choose not to. I choose music that is fun and easy to follow. I use all genres of music from Latin, Pop, Bollywood, Country, and Contemporary Christian Hip Hop”.
Pauley recently became a Certified LaBlast Instructor but has been teaching Zumba for over 20 years and is certified in that as well. She says both are dance classes, but Zumba takes heavier inspiration from Latin dancing styles.
“Zumba dance formats are rooted in Reggaeton, Latin, Salsa, Merengue and Bollywood.,” she says. “ LaBlast classes utilize structured ballroom dance patterns like Foxtrot, Disco, Hustle, Tango, Waltz and Samba. Both are great workouts for calorie burn and getting those steps in”.
Paul Pizzolongo is one of the few men taking Zumba classes. He has been doing Zumba for a number of year was a figure skater at one time in his efforts to be active. Staying active was also a motivator for Joyce Kisk. She retired three years ago and is just starting out on her Zumba journey. She likes it due to its similarity to another class many of us have heard of, Jazzercise.
Pauley encourages new students to simply have fun. and “just move”. She says it sometimes takes a couple times for newbies to get the steps down but says she has never had anyone tell her they didn’t like it.
“Some students may take a little longer to get their groove on but the best thing about Zumba is the music,” she says. “It’s fun and a great workout to relieve stress because everyone leaves happy!! Everyone has their own style. I tell my students to smile and style!!!!”
There is a beginners 30-minute Zumba video on You Tube for those who want to get a better idea of what the “workout “ looks like. So whether you have LaBlast or ZOOOMMmmm to a Latin tune, get out and have fun getting active!
By Mary Jo Tarallo, Guest Journalist
Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry as a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Oprah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland and Towson University, lived in Washington, DC for 21 years and has been a full time resident of Rehoboth Beach and Milton since May 2019.