Debbie Skidmore loves to dance. Growing up in New Orleans, where dancing is more than just a Mardi Gras party each spring, it’s has been a major part of her life since she was just 2 years old.
The movement, the beat, the choreography — everything about dance inspires her. And as a licensed Zumba Fitness instructor, add fitness to that long list.
“Dancing was something I always enjoyed,” she said. “It’s one of those workouts you’re doing but you’re enjoying. It’s a happy thing. People are laughing and having fun.”
The Zumba fitness craze has been growing steadily since 2001, when Alberto “Beto” Perez created it by what Skidmore called a “happy accident.” According to the official Zumba web site, the fitness instructor from Cali, Colombia, had darted off to teach an aerobics class and forgot his traditional aerobics music.
So he improvised, using his own mix of music from tapes he had in his backpack, mostly salsa and merengue music he grew up with. That day, more than 15 years ago, he created a new kind of dance-fitness, one that focused on letting the music move the dancer instead of counting repetitions over the music. The class loved it, energy filled the room, and Zumba was born.
Zumba has since grown to enormous popularity with more than 14 million people taking classes in more than 140,000 locations in 150 countries, making it the world’s largest dance-fitness program. Skidmore teaches at several of those locations, at Nixa’s Community Center and in Springfield.
People of all shapes, sizes, age and ability take one of her 13 weekly classes, which she says is the best part about Zumba.
“To dance and lose weight is much more fun,” she said. “At 46, for me it’s about my balance and stamina. The difference it does for your body, that extra energy level, is amazing.”
Skidmore said someone will typically burn 600-800 calories during a one-hour Zumba class. Compare that to about 500 calories burned playing racquetball for an hour, or 360 calories burned by simply doing resistance weight training, and it’s clear why Zumba has been a catalyst for so many success stories.
“Not everybody needs to lose weight, but I’ve had a couple students lose 70-80 pounds,” Skidmore said. “It helps with blood pressure, stress, stamina, so many things.”
For those who may be reluctant to give the program a try, Skidmore says to not worry. Her classes are open and inviting, far more like a big family than other types of fitness classes.
“I’ve had people call me and say they’re too big to go, that they’re embarrassed,” she said. “That is one of the really great positives of my class, we welcome them.”
While many people prefer the social aspects and direction of a live class, Zumba began with at-home DVDs and still offers them, along with music CDs and the first branded fitness program to launch video games on the Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. For more information about Debbie Skidmore’s Zumba classes, including times and locations, visit debbieskidmore. zumba.com.
For more info about Zumba and to find other local classes visit www.zumba.com.
–Courtesy of The Marshfield Mail