Since it’s creation in 2001, the latin dance inspired workout program, Zumba®, has spread across the world changing the lives of over 12 million men and women who want to get in shape while dancing and having fun with friends. LiveLoveLeslie’s Leslie Juvin was able to snag an exclusive, spirited interview Zumba fanatic and Jacksonville, Florida based Zumba instructor, Elizabeth Alfieri, in order to learn more about the latin fitness craze and how ordinary men and women can turn their flab into fab.
What is Zumba®? Can you share some of its history?
Zumba is a Latin inspired dance- fitness program with an amazing blend and eye opening international blend of music! More than you could have ever known existed, history is in each step, and the creator Alberto “Beto” Perez created this by perfect accident! He and his team of trainers and professionals drive the hot international and latin beats right home!
How involved are you with Zumba? How did you get started? How long have you been doing Zumba?
I have been taking Zumba classes since September of last year. I was introduced by a good friend of mine who raved about it and seeing her was having her own amazing results got me started!
I attend Zumba classes almost 4 times or more a week, along with practicing at home for the class I instruct! I attend as many events as I possibly can and I have leared so much about many causes such as the recent Hearty Party events that helped women learn about heart disease! Who knew that I could learn while going to a Zumba party!?
I was a fitness trainer and I used to instruct aerobics six years ago, but I didn’t like it too much because it was tough to think, move, and count all at once! I found myself always wanting to dance and because I love fitness and helping people who are willing and wanting to make a change in their life Zumba was the perfect fit. Zumba has sparked that part in my heart and inspired me to help people; to educate people, even those who think there is no other way of losing weight. Zumba has also been right up my alley because I have such an interest for cultures and languages; I want to travel, and feel like if I take Zumba where I go, I will be able to learn these cultures because Zumba is an international workout.
What is so great about Zumba as a workout? What are its benefits?
Zumba has so many many amazing points: Speaking as a student, there is the difficulty of the moves, and the fact I am doing lunges, and (feeling sexy!) not even realizing the work because I am having an awesome time dancing. The results were amazing for me within 4 weeks; I lost 4 inches around my waist that I had been working like crazy to lose and couldn’t shed with my previous excersise knowledge before I had my daughter! My arms were beginning to look lean and my legs started to have the same look!
As an instructor, I learned how amazing it is to have people come in who have begun to give up and at the end thanked me and told me there goals and how they now thought these goals were possible! Also, there is a rich history behind moves such as the machete move in the Cumbia dance, which represents the african slaves chopping sugar cane in chains. In return, dancers get a great arm, hips, waist and cardio workout put to some music!!
Do you have any success stories either about yourself or others?
I actually do have a sucess story! I have heard some amazing ones also! I have had better energy and lost 15 lbs and it has helped me with my stiff back, believe it or not! I was in an accident in November, and I have messed up my back from that accident, but also dealt with horrible stiffness due to muscle tension, and sometimes I swear I cannot dance, but the minute the lights go down, and the music hits I can feel the endorphins creep all over! Its amazing and I feel alive and 26 again!
I have heard many amazing stories but the best ones I heard were actually while I got my certification with Jani Roberts in January. One lady was 22, and her goal was to lose the weight and make it through certification when I say make she meant make it through! She had lost over 60 lbs and credits Zumba to helping her save her life! What a great message, too, because generation Y is in major danger of disease and obesity!
Another woman got her mother into it and her mom was completely insulin dependent, and severely overweight, after starting Zumba and getting with it, she was no longer dependant on insulin and lost over 100 lbs and still going with it!
The best stories are always at the events though! Octobers breast Cancer event were very moving, and inspirational to the women who fought cancer through Zumba!
What kind of women could benefit from practicing Zumba?
EVERYONE can benefit from Zumba!! Not just women! There are men and awesome men at that! They help liven up classes! These men have goals, too, and many close to giving up. Zumba offers a way for everyone to go with their best ability. Its why it is to have a party, whether you are a senior, in a wheelchair, in the pool, a teenager…it’ endless who can do this and receive benefits! The Zumba community is an amazing one! Filled with love, music, laughter, fun!
Do you have any tips for beginners? Advice for making the most of it?
Beginners will always hear this KEEP MOVING!!!! Let the music take you! Everyone has there own Zumba! You do not have to be a dancer. You may have two left feet, but you have to laugh at yourself, and laugh or yell when you at least love the song!
Talk to the instructor after class, we love new Zumba participants!!!! I see students who nail the salsa or other dances better than me and I say work it!!! There are awesome new Zumba DVDS out, and Instructors love to stay after or find some time to show you a step!!!! STAY WITH IT!!!!
[box type=”shadow”] Visit the official Zumba website for classes near you. Elizabeth advises that not all classes are the same as every instructor does their own favorite things, so check out more than one class and instructor. [/box]