“Zumba is an international and Latin fitness dance class that focuses mainly on cardio, but also endurance and getting different kinds of moves, flexibility, coordination,” said Liz Dixon, Zumba and Pilates instructor and personal trainer. “It’s basically trying to let the class have fun and burn calories at the same time without even realizing they are burning the calories.”
Pam Wiggins, campus recreation group fitness coordinator, said the Latin dance styles used in Zumba classes range from Salsa, Cumbia, Merengue, Samba, The Cha Cha, Quebradita, Bachata, Axe, Reggaeton and Tango. World rhythms from India, Africa and hip-hop and swing rhythms from the U.S. are also included in the programs.
During the summer, Zumba is offered on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons.
During the fall and spring, 11 classes per week are offered, with morning, afternoon and evening options to fit students' varying schedules.
Classes are held in the Student Activities Center Room 207 or on one of the first floor courts.
Wiggins started the Zumba classes last fall, and since they were introduced, Auburn’s group fitness numbers have doubled.
“The Auburn students love Zumba,” Wiggins said. “Zumba offers something different in the way of cardiovascular exercise. It adds flair to the old high and low impact aerobics class. We use slow and fast speeds to provide an interval workout, and the class is driven by the music and choreography.”
The average number of students attending Zumba classes at Auburn is about 50 in the summer, but Wiggins said the class average is more than 100 in the fall and spring.
“I tell people not take themselves seriously in this class, just to goof off because the more you goof off, the more calories you’re going to burn,” Dixon said. “I have girls in the front that just go crazy and break it down, and they will burn more calories than the person who’s a little intimidated.”
Dixon said the average person burns about 500 800 calories in an hour.
“I like taking the Zumba classes here at Auburn because it keeps me in shape, and it’s fun at the same time,” said Betsy Rogers, a senior in public relations. “The loud music and dance moves make me forget I’m working out, and it’s a fun activity to do with my girlfriends, especially since it’s so hot outside this summer.”
Dixon, a former soccer player and trombonist, said what she loved most about the class is that a background in dance is not necessary to participate in or teach Zumba.
“I love seeing the people that are able to just be comfortable with themselves because of Zumba and enjoy not being self-conscious and not having to worry about if someone will think they are strange,” Dixon said.
On Thursday, Aug.19, Auburn’s campus recreation group fitness will be hosting ZumbaNation-DanceDomination to celebrate the commitment to staying healthy and active.
“The goal is to be the healthiest campus in the nation, thus ZumbaNation,” Wiggins said. “The plan is to host a big Zumba class on three basketball courts with all seven of the Auburn instructors on stage and some of the participants also coming on stage to show off their skills.”
The event will be in the Student Activities Center from 6-7:30 p.m., and there will be giveaways including tie-dye T-shirts and glow sticks.
“This is one energized party devoted to fun and fitness,” Wiggins said.“Students need to understand the importance of keeping active, especially during times of stress like during exams, papers and projects. Zumba is just a great way to stay active during these very busy times.”
Auburn isn’t the only place caught up in the Zumba craze, however. Zumba was created in Chile in the mid-90s, and since it hit the U.S., it has spread quickly to fitness clubs, class instructors and workout centers.
According to the official Zumba website, “As of May 2010, the Zumba program is being taught at over 60,000 locations in 105 countries, has sold millions of DVDs and has changed the lives of Zumba fanatics worldwide with an astonishing 7.5 million participants taking Zumba classes every week.”
The Auburn group fitness department is continuing to add new instructors, music and choreography to Zumba to keep students having fun and in shape.
“Equipment is just one way to get fit,” Wiggins said. “What group fitness classes offer you is much more. Moving in the same direction and at the same speed over and over will definitely keep you healthy, but won’t improve your ability to change directions quickly, react to different movement patterns, stimulate the mind and body, recruit different muscles and use power to execute movement. Zumba classes enhance all of those functions with fun, syncopated rhythm. The only requirement for Zumba is a willingness to let go and enjoy the music and movement. Everyone can dance.”