Zumba adds Latin dance to fitness routine

For an evening out with Latin music and dancing, all Stuttgart military community members need to do is stop by the gym.

They may want to trade their dancing shoes for trainers, however, and be ready to work up a sweat.

Zumba, the Latin-American dance and fitness class, that has become a global phenomenon in the past 10 years, is now available at the Patch Fitness Center on Patch Barracks. Classes are Tuesday and Thursday from 7-8 p.m. and Saturday from 9-10 p.m.

“What I like about Zumba is [that] it’s fun,” said Maria Moline, group instructor. “It gives you the feeling that you are going out to dance.”

Zumba, which originated in Columbia in the 1990s, incorporates Latin-American dance moves into a cardiovascular workout.

“It’s like hip-hop, salsa and merengue all in one,” said Sonya Rugumayo, a civilian employee. “You don’t have to be coordinated. After three classes, you know how to dance.”

While it has been growing in popularity in the United States for a decade, the class is very new to Europe, Moline said. In fact, the Stuttgart area has only three instructors, including Moline, a former flamenco dancer.

The course not only teaches dance moves, but helps students tone their bodies.
“I’ve lost 30 pounds since I’ve taken this class,” said Mary Fay, a contractor spouse. “I used to take aerobics — I never got a workout like this.”

The reason why students can stick with Zumba and see results is that they are not thinking about exercising, but dancing to the music, Moline said. “Sometimes you’re exercising for one hour and when you are dancing, you don’t realize it. When you dance, you are exercising the complete body.”

Students in the class use their legs to salsa, lift their arms, rotate their hips and kick in time to the music. The class incorporates interval training, switching from slower to fast-paced Latin and International songs.

“That’s what makes it fun,” said Lt. Theresa Aderr (U.S. Navy). “I download the songs.”

Having a teacher like Moline also makes the class enjoyable, said Chief Petty Officer Joseph Carroll (U.S. Navy). “She sets a good atmosphere in class,” he said. “She’s very friendly.”

Moline lets parents bring their children to class if their partner is deployed or they do not have childcare for the evening. “They can participate — it gives them to opportunity to work out also,” Moline said.

She also makes sure beginners aren’t left behind. The class only learns one new song every 1-2 months. This way, she said, newcomers and Zumba veterans alike can get used to the choreography of the old songs first.

They’ll need to focus on breathing, anyway. “You sweat profusely,” said Rugomayo of her first couple of classes.

Even though it’s challenging, Zumba is addictive, Carroll added. “It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “I gotta get my Zumba fix.”