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Zumba craze hits Turlock
Latin dance inspired exercise class fastest growing at local fitness clubs
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Zumba is a popular Latin dance workout that has taken over local fitness clubs. This class met at Brenda Athletic Center at 9:30 on Friday morning to start their day off with a sweat-inducing workout moving to the rhythm of the music. - photo by ANDREA GOODWIN / The Journal


To find your maximum predictive heart rate, subtract your age from 220. Your ideal heart rate during aerobic exercise should be between 60% and 70% of that number.

— Information provided by Emanuel Medical Center

The 20 or so women in Tiffany Ramirez’s Friday morning class were a little out of breath as they followed along to her fast-paced Latin dance moves. One second they were pretending to play a bongo, the next they were jumping up and down, bending into squats and shaking their butts. Their hips never stopped moving throughout the routine, and by 10 minutes in most had broken a sweat.


“Okay, good warm up,” Ramirez said, “now let’s get started.”


This intense aerobic dance routine was just the tip of the iceberg for the one-hour Zumba class at Brenda Athletic Club in Turlock. Zumba is the newest fitness crazy to hit the Turlock area, and Brenda is just one fitness club in town that offers regular classes.


“It’s definitely one of the hottest styles in fitness right now. This class started out popular,” said Kim Brenda, aerobic director for Brenda Athletic Club in Turlock.


Zumba is an aerobic dance class set to Latin music that started spreading around the world 10 years ago. The craze hit the area about two years ago, when the first certified instructors started teaching the method to classes in fitness clubs in Turlock. Zumba is a trademarked franchise, and all instructors are certified by Zumba Fitness to teach the dance method.


Emma Perales Finley was certified to teach Zumba in May. She now teaches 13 classes a week at her studio, Bodykraze. She said that the fitness benefits of Zumba affect the entire body. The mix of high-intensity and low-intensity moves, along with a constant movement, help work the entire body. Perales said that Zumba can burn up to 500 calories in an hour dance workout.


“And it’s kind of a party atmosphere. People actually have fun with Zumba,” Perales said.


David Canton, vice president of Medical Affairs at Emanuel Medical Center, said that aerobic dances like Zumba can have medical benefits as well. He said that aerobic exercise can improve heart health.


“The first objective is to move. You want to get your heart beating, and aerobic dance can do that,” Canton said.


The best kind of workout for heart health is one that can raise the heart rate to between 60 percent and 70 percent of the maximum predictive heart rate. To find out your own ideal heart rate for aerobic exercise, see the heart health sidebar.


Canton urged anyone considering enrolling in Zumba classes, or starting any exercise program, to see their doctor first.


“If sedentary people start even mild exercise they could have an underlying coronary problem that they don’t know about. They won’t realize it until they start to feel chest pain and other symptoms,” Canton said.


People who get little to no exercise now should get cleared by their doctor before starting Zumba, he said. He also urged anyone who experiences shortness of breath after mild exercise, chest pain, or other problems to stop exercising and see a doctor.


“Other normal safety precautions should be taken. If you’re doing the videos at home make sure you have a clear space,” Canton said, “and don’t trip over the coffee table or anything else in the room.”


Adults are not the only ones who can see health and fitness benefits from Zumba. Inshape City in Turlock will soon offer weekly Zumba classes for kids. Amber Sanchez, group exercise team leader for the Turlock Inshape, said that the classes were so popular over the summer that the fitness center wants to extend the program.


“I think the kids just like moving to the music. You can tell they are having fun just by the look on their faces and the way they get into it,” Sanchez said.


Zumba might be new, but it looks like it might be here to stay. Inshape Turlock, Brenda Athletics, and Bodykraze all confirmed that Zumba is their most popular and fastest growing group exercise class.

 “I sweat more during Zumba than I do running. Plus it’s really fun. You forget you’re working out,” Ramirez said. To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or at 634-9141 ex. 2003.