Have you ever signed up for a fitness course, be it aerobics or a dance fitness class, and after three classes wanted to hit yourself for wasting the money? I have done this numerous times, having only a thinner waist in mind, but only started enjoying such exercise classes after discovering Zumba four years ago.

Zumba fitness has emerged over the recent years as the most popular group exercise classes on the planet. It is an exhilarating, effective, easy-to-follow, Latin-inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness-party and is reportedly performed by more than 14 million people at 140,000 locations, in 150 countries around the world.

The marketing slogan for Zumba fitness is, "Ditch the Workout - Join the Party!" and it seems to attract exercisers with a fun fusion of dance moves from styles like Salsa, Reggaeton, Hip-Hop, Merengue, Flamenco, Soca, Samba, Mambo, martial arts (yes really) and some Bollywood and belly dance moves. Some of this sort of choreography you might actually see in a nightclub. Depending on how well you know the routines and the instructor, you can burn up to 500 and 1000 calories in an hour of Zumba.

Sergio Barbosa, is one of Munich's most loved Zumba fitness trainers. He moved to Munich in 1991 from Rio and has since been doing all sorts of things, from acting and drumming to dancing professionally. He acquired his Zumba fitness certificate three years ago and has since been giving classes at the Volkshochschule Ost (VHS) and Stefan Sport Center. He mentions that back home in Rio, the idea of fitness has a totally different sense in itself. People there dance all the time, not only to stay fit but treat it as an enjoyable past time. He shyly added that his students here in Munich are generally not relaxed and too stiff. His aim therefore is to make such people laugh and enjoy themselves, indirectly staying fit and losing a kilo or two.

There are different kinds of Zumba classes specifically designed to the needs of all different age groups.
Zumba Gold - caters for the elderly with the same kind of music
Zumba Toning - is for those who do their workouts with toning sticks, targeting the abs, thighs, arms and other muscles
Zumba Aqua - Zumba in a swimming pool
Zumba Circuit - a 30 minute dance combined with circuit training
Zumbatomic - class designed for children between the ages of 4 and 12

A Colombian dancer and choreographer Alberto "Beto" Perez is said to have started this dance-fitness program quite by accident. One day in the mid-90s, Beto had forgotten to bring his regular aerobics-style music tape to the group exercise class he was teaching. With a class to teach and no music, he pulled up a Latin dance music cassette he had on with him and improvised.

As the lively beats of Merengue and Rumba rang out, Beto relied on his experience in dancing in Salsa clubs and choreographing for local artists and was soon leading his pupils through a fun series of dance steps. With that, Rumbacize was created. It was an instant hit and quickly became the most popular class at his gym. In 2001, Beto took along his Rumbacize to the United States. It immediately caught on there as well and with the help of a pair of entrepreneurs, co-founder Alberto Perlman and a childhood friend, COO Alberto Aghion, he re-branded and transformed it into the global franchise that is Zumba fitness today.

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