Zooming in on fitness


POSTED: Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Fitness enthusiasts hooked on Zumba say it's more like a party than a workout.

The latest fitness craze incorporates Latin rhythms into a fast-paced dance routine that is gaining momentum from Kapolei to Hawaii Kai.

The Latin rhythms are hypnotic, and once initiated, students say they're hooked. There's pumping, swaying and shimmying, punctuated with whoops and cheers.

A Zumba class typically lasts an hour, and participants can burn between 400 to 500 calories, depending how much one puts into it.

“;It's not so important that you know the steps, but that you get into the music, enjoy it and have fun,”; said Kendra Schneider, who takes a class at the Kailua Movement Studio.

She says the moves are easy, combining hip action and cardio. It beats the monotony of a treadmill.

Instructor Tony Washington, who teaches at Kokokahi YWCA in Kaneohe, describes Zumba as 70 percent Latin, which can include tango, salsa, cha-cha, flamenco, samba and merengue, and 30 percent “;other,”; like movements from hip-hop, world dance, even belly dancing.







        » 776 Kailua Road, second floor, at Kainehe Street intersection

        » Classes: 9 to 10 a.m., 5 to 6 p.m. and 8:30 to 9:35 p.m. Tuesdays; 7:15 to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays

        » Cost: Drop-ins $10; five-class card $35 to $40; $5 May specials

        » Call: 262-1933 or visit


» 45-035 Kaneohe Bay Drive
        » Classes: 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays
        » Cost: Drop-ins $8; five-class card $35; 10-class card $65 (includes free class)
        » Call 247-2124.


» Kapolei Yoga and Dance Studio: 338 Kamokila Boulevard #201. Sessions 5 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays.
        » Kalama Beach Park Pavilion: 2 p.m. Fridays starting in June; free


» 24-Hour Fitness: Classes vary by location.
        » Oahu Club: 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Saturdays


» Check your area YMCA/YWCA for more options.
        » Visit; click on “;Find a Class”; to search by ZIP code.


Classes in Hawaii generally attract women, although Zumba's founder is Alberto “;Beto”; Perez, a former aerobics instructor from Colombia who developed the workouts under Zumba Fitness LLC and trademarked the name in Miami.

Perez forgot the music for his aerobics class one day, according to the website, and had to improvise with Latin music from his backpack, which turned out to be a hit. His official motto is, “;Ditch the workout, join the party.”; Zumba offers its own trademark music, DVDs, outfits (brightly colored cargo pants and tank tops) and accessories. Instructor-training classes are available nationwide, as well as other parts of the globe, including Japan and Australia.

TRUE TO THE free-form spirit of Zumba, there is a set of basic movements with a Latin influence, but every instructor may incorporate his or her own style, music and choreography.

“;It's uninhibited dance,”; said student Ali Schuman, who lives part time in San Diego and Kailua. “;You can let your inner goddess out. It's great fun.”;

While yoga and aerobics are structured, Schuman says Zumba gives you the freedom to improvise and to move your shoulders and hips during a move, even if others aren't.

Instructor Yumi Kraft found Zumba to be the best way to get in shape after having her second baby, when she gained 65 pounds.

“;The Zumba music really moved me,”; she said. “;I always loved to dance.”;

She lost 25 pounds after just six months of Zumba and now says she's in better shape than before her pregnancy. She got hooked and became an instructor.

It's OK if beginners don't know Latin dance, she said, as the steps are repetitive and easy to follow.

When Kraft started two years ago, there were only a handful of classes in Hawaii. Now Zumba is blossoming, and there are nearly 100 classes available, in places ranging from the YWCA and YMCA to 24-Hour Fitness, military gyms and community centers.

For mom Meredith Grimmer, Zumba is a chance to get out and dance.

Grimmer said she often went out dancing to live music before she had her baby, but can no longer go out at night. Zumba gives her the chance to dance again and doubles as a great stress reliever, she said.

Nanda Doversola, originally from Colombia, said when the music comes on, “;It's like home.”;

A Zumba workout, she said, is like running and going to the gym (which she also does) at the same time. It works the thighs, rear, hips, core, arms, the whole body.

“;I'm addicted,”; she said.

Instructor Teddi McEwen adds disco and strobe lights to her Zumba class on Tuesday and Thursday evenings in Kailua.

She described it as being similar to going to a nightclub, but without the alcohol, smoke or guys trying to hit on you.

McEwen, a certified YogaFit instructor, got hooked when a friend brought her to a Zumba class.

She described the workout as aerobic, good for the hips, core and shoulders, and coordination. McEwen likes to end her Zumba routines with a few warm-down yoga stretches.

Brenda Reynolds teaches Zumba Gold, geared toward older people, including individuals in wheelchairs. Starting in June, she'll be offering free classes Friday afternoons at the Kalama Beach Park pavilion in Kailua.

She keeps the steps low-impact, with less bouncing but no less fun. She thinks Zumba is more than just a passing trend.

“;The bottom line is, it's just fun,”; she said. “;There's the joy factor. You see smiles. No matter what your challenges were for the day, you smile.”;