Two resolutions that I formed prior to the start of my second year here at St Andrews were to become involved with a student publication and to get fit. So, when an article exploring the merits of the recent dance phenomenon Zumba was suggested I thought I should seize the opportunity and embark on a Bridget Jones style jaunt to Latino induced litheness. Before attending the class I had preconceived notions of middle-aged women, an entirely unauthentic soundtrack and a crushingly humiliating hour spent in the name of attempted journalism. Yet, despite myself, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Famously conceived following a lucrative mistake of Colombian Alberto Perez, when he forgot the CD for his aerobics class and had to use the salsa and Merengue mix tapes he had in his car instead, Zumba has become a formidable force comprising of the Zumba Academy, Zumba Wear and the Zumba Fitness games devices. An accurate translation of the term remains elusive, but what it seeks to evoke is fun and, undoubtedly, the people behind it all are doing something right.
The official website of the company cites their aim as seeking to move millions of people towards joy and health in a self-coined ‘fitness party.’ Figures from the site tell us that since its inception in 2001, 12 million people take part in the classes on a weekly basis in more than 110,000 locations in 125 countries. Such impressive statistics suggest that there is indeed method behind the madness.
For such a small town the multitude of activities available in St Andrews never ceases to amaze me. This also applies for Zumba – there are three venues offering classes. I attended the largest class run by dance enthusiast Gail Millar who brought Zumba to St Andrews back in 2010 and now runs four classes a week. Dragging my long-suffering flatmate along, we sheepishly entered the hall unsure of what to expect. We were greeted with a surprisingly varied range of attendees, who, less surprisingly, were solely women. Yet there was a real sense of community within the hall in the diversity of class-goers from old to young, locals and students.
Now I am not going to pretend that Zumba is ever going to equip you with the fitness to run a marathon but, if you’re looking for something to get yourself moving and to have a laugh, then this is the ideal outlet for you. Gail Millar was inspired to complete her Zumba instructor training after becoming disillusioned with the monotony the gym previously necessitated in order to stay fit.
Through extensive use of an online forum, she ensures that each participant within her classes gets to contribute feedback and suggestions for future routines, a commendable approach to giving the customer what they want. The routines are led from the front by an instructor, though, in-keeping with the Latino vibe of the enterprise, people are encouraged to interpret the routines loosely; enabling an individual’s workout to be as intensive as they desire. If you are looking for an exercise class which leaves you feeling energised and smiling like a Cheshire cat, then this is certainly the one for you.