Zumba: the latest dance craze to hit Surrey

PUBLISHED: 17:37 27 September 2010 | UPDATED: 16:36 20 February 2013

Zumba: the latest dance craze to hit Surrey

Zumba: the latest dance craze to hit Surrey

If you haven't heard of it yet, then you soon will. Zumba is the hot new Latin American dance craze sweeping the country – and nowhere more so than here in Surrey. TRACY COOK donned her lycra and went along to a class

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine January 2010

If you havent heard of it yet, then you soon will. Zumba is the hot new Latin American dance craze sweeping the country and nowhere more so than here in Surrey. TRACY COOK donned her lycra and went along to a class

I blame Bruce Forsyth. Well, Brucie, and the sequins, sparkle and salsa that is Strictly Come Dancing. Because if Bruce, at 81, can still cha cha and rumba, still has hip action and quicksilver feet, then I am going to have to accept that dancing round the house with the Hoover and tickling the treadmill a couple of times of week isnt really going to cut it!
I have always longed to dance. But cursed with two left feet and no coordination skills, Id never seen ballroom as quite for me. But then I heard of Zumba.

Ah, Zumba! Just the name evokes images of hot Latin American party nights, rum punches, wildly rumba-ing to shouts of Ariiiiba!, while the z gives it that modern twist. In fact, Zumba is the hot new Latin American dance exercise sensation that is sweeping the world. Dubbed exercise in disguise, its a mix of salsa, meringue, calypso and reggaeton, all rolled into one hot dance/exercise class. And the good news is, you dont need a partner, either.

Zumba is a global dance craze
Already a global phenomenon, with over 11,000 instructors in 35 countries, it has now come to Surrey, where its been proving something of a hit. When I speak to Guildford-based Caroline Parsons, head of Zumba UK, to find out where I can do a class, I am chuffed to discover there are over 50 instructors in the county, more than anywhere else in the UK. Surrey, she explains, is the crest of the wave about to break nationwide.

Its just spreading and growing madly at the moment, she enthuses. Once you try it, you just dont want to stop. Its just such fun. I have a blast doing it. Its like going to a party. People just end up laughing. Everyone who comes just leaves dripping in sweat with a big grin on their face.

I cant wait to book in, and Caroline suggests I join her longest running class at the Ash Manor Sports Centre, outside Guildford.

What should I wear? I ask, secretly dreaming of foxy heels and a tight, spangly frock. Oh, just wear trainers and something comfortable...

I turn up on a dark Monday evening, and even in the ordinary surroundings of the sports centre, under the strip lighting, an excited buzz is growing as we wait for it all to start. The class regularly sells out and the ladies are talking about how early in advance they book, to be sure of a place. They admit they are hooked and lots seem to have been coming since the class began a year ago. Some are wearing rather natty lycra tops emblazoned Peace Love Zumba. I am chilling out by the second.

I was so excited when I found this class I love it, says Fran Hack, 46, from Woking. I got bored with bog standard aerobics. Now Im addicted! After all these years, Ive finally found something that suits me.

Caroline arrives and greets everyone like an old friend. Shes just back from a busy weekend in Shipley, Yorkshire, where she has been teaching 50 new instructors. Zumba has certainly changed her life. Appointed Zumba education specialist for the UK, (oh, so American!), she is in charge of teaching all new Zumba instructors. Recently returned from a convention in the US, which she attended with get this 5,000 other delegates, she is now spearheading Zumbas growth in the UK. Shes even Zumbad on ITV1s This Morning! Formerly a professional dancer, after going to Tormead School in Guildford, she has now turned her back on the stage to concentrate on teaching Zumba to others.

Strutting my stuff
And so the moment of truth is finally here! We enter the double doors into the large sports hall, Caroline dons her headset, blasts out the Latin music, and were away...

We begin by doing a fast warm-up and I can already feel myself turning an embarrassing beetroot red, and starting to huff and puff. Then Caroline cries out: Lets salsa! And amazingly we do, and its really fun. Even though Ive never salsad before, I can follow the steps fairly easily and strut my stuff, although I do carefully position myself behind a lady in blue who has great hip action and is swaying rhythmically in time to the beat.

I take heart in Carolines words: Theres no right or wrong way to Zumba just do your own thing. Its rather liberating really. After years of getting the steps wrong in step classes and not being bendy enough for legs, bums and tums, I can do this.

I cant stop grinning, and thats because of the uplifting music. With each track, theres a change and we go from mambo to reggae to calypso. We rotate our hips; faster and faster, round and round; shake our, erm, assets in a wildly liberating fashion; and skip, hop, kick; arms shaking imaginary maracas in the air. We play air guitar rather madly and Caroline laughs as she head bangs at the front. As we break between tracks, I feel like I am at a party and we should be sipping rum punches, not desperately glugging water, as we wipe the sweat off our faces.

The other ladies smile at me encouragingly. Tina Kingshott, 51, from Tongham, here with her daughter Michaela, 20, grins at me and whispers conspiratorially: I came twice a week for three weeks and went down a whole dress size! Can there be any more motivational words in the English language?

Throughout the class, Caroline keeps us moving, and the rhythm changes from fast to slow, so although devilishly unfit, even I can keep up. Just as you flag, another great piece of Latin music comes on and makes you want to keep dancing! At one stage, she splits the class so we are lined up, facing each other across the room, waving our arms above our heads euphorically, twirling, popping our hips, and grinding to the beat.

In all, we do an hour of intense exercise, but it doesnt really feel like it, because its been such fun. I am dripping, but exhilarated. Peace, love, Zumba! Brucie, eat your heart out...

Where to Zumba in Surrey

There are Zumba classes in sports centres and venues all over the county, but heres a few to help get you started

Ash Manor Sports Centre, Manor Road, Ash GU12 6QH. Mondays, 6.15pm to 7.15pm; and Thursdays, 7.30pm to 8.30pm

River Bourne Health Club, Heriot Road, Chertsey KT16 9DR. Wednesdays, 10.30am to 11.30am

Virgin Active, 5 The Derby Square, Epsom KT19 8AG. Wednesdays, 8pm to 8.45pm

Sandown Sports Club, More Lane, Esher KT10 8AN. Tuesdays, 7.45pm to 8.45pm; and Fridays, 5.30pm to 6.15pm

LA Fitness, Epsom Road, Guildford GU4 7AA. Tuesdays, 11.30am to 12.30pm; and Tuesdays, 7.45pm to 8.45pm
Guildford Spectrum, Parkway, Guildford. GU1 1UP. Mondays, 6pm to 7pm; and Tuesdays, 8pm to 9pm

Weybridge Health Club, Walton Lane, Weybridge KT13 8QA. Tuesdays, 6.30pm to 7.15pm

LA Fitness, Arthurs Bridge Road, Woking GU21 4NR. Tuesdays, 7.45pm to 8.45pm; and Wednesdays, 10.30am to 11.30am
Woking Leisure Centre, Kingfield Road, Woking GU22 9BA. Tuesdays, 6.30pm to 7.30pm; Thursdays, 7pm to 8pm; and Saturdays, 10am to 11am

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