If kicking and punching the air to upbeat music or robotically stepping up and down a portable plastic step doesn’t sound like an enjoyable workout plan, why not stay in shape with a Latin-based dance party?
SF State’s Campus Recreation department is now offering Zumba as a part of the Group X fitness class lineup this fall after a successful 10-week test run over the summer, according to Erika Eugenio, the University’s certified Zumba instructor.
Zumba is a fusion of Latin-inspired dance and exercise movements that has been around for about 15 years, but has grown in popularity within the U.S. in the past five years.
“The fact that I can share (my Latin background in dance) with my students, faculty and staff from 18 all the way to 64 to 70 years of age is very beneficial to everybody because everyone gets to move. Everyone gets to have fun,” said Eugenio, who stepped up to become certified for the position. “Again, it’s basically a party-like atmosphere, but you’re getting exercise, but you don’t think about it.”
Amber Drake, aquatics student manager, said she has observed Zumba a few times and believes it has brought a fun aspect to the aerobics classes.
“We go in there to do head counts to see how popular the classes are and that one is particularly popular,” Drake said. “That’s why it’s held in the large gym.”
Since the beginning of the fall semester, the number of participants has grown from 30 to 42 students, according to Eugenio.
Zumba’s dance party approach attracts participants like 18-year-old nursing major Danielle Wright, who took a Zumba class once before with her mother.
“I like Zumba because you don’t think about you’re working out,” Wright said. “You’re dancing, so it’s fun and it’s still a lot of cardio so that was good. I actually broke a sweat, so I like that a lot.”
Depending on how much effort participants put into the dance moves, they can lose anywhere between 200 to 800 calories in one hourlong class session, according to Drake, a senior dietetics major.
SF State students, faculty and staff have been requesting the class in Campus Recreation for the past year, according to Eugenio.
Other participants like Airha Dominguez, a journalism major who took Zumba in Mexico, where she grew up, said it is a good way to learn how to dance.
“I think (offering) Zumba here on campus is a great opportunity for all the students to practice dance for free,” Dominguez, 22, said.
Zumba differs from other fitness classes because it focuses more on the natural movement of the body through the different tempos of Latin music verses the structured steps in other classes. These movements include rhythmic steps to fast and slow music, utilizing not only leg movement, but hip, shoulder and arm movements in easy-to-follow steps.
“What we’re worrying about is getting movement,” Eugenio said. “It’s all about that kinaesthetics — getting that body to just move and getting that natural rhythm.”
One thing that helps the body to move for dance steps like those in Zumba is keeping the shoulders loose because it helps keep the torso and trunk rotation loose, according to Eugenio.
Mataiasi Ahokava, who has been attending the class since the beginning of the semester, said he has taken Zumba classes at other places like 24 Hour Fitness, but he likes taking it with Eugenio because she motivates the students.
“The reason why I’ve been taking a lot of Erika’s classes is because she’s a really intense instructor and she also gives good work outs,” the 22-year-old communications major said.
Eugenio thinks Zumba will go far within SF State.
“It’s gonna be Zumba now, it’s gonna be Zumba tomorrow and I think Zumba is just gonna be, at least for the next five, six, seven years here at State,” Eugenio said. “It’s just gonna continue to grow — it’s gonna be huge here. I’m really excited for it and I look forward to just continue to teach for them.”
Eugenio said as long as she is a Zumba instructor at the University, Campus Recreation will continue to offer the course in its fitness program.