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Zumba Gives A Taste Of Latin Flavor 

Bet U Can Dance instructor Geraldine Weber shows off a Zumba movement in the East Northport studio after Monday morning’s class.

I woke up Jan. 6 and looked out my window. “Great,” I thought. “Here’s to Zumba on a rainy, dreary Monday morning.” But while I woke up dragging my feet (as per usual, as you may have learned) I left the Bet U Can Dance studio in East Northport four hours later feeling completely reenergized and invigorated by the dance fitness class that kept me on my toes for a full 60 minutes.

I have wanted to try Zumba, a Latin cardio workout that incorporates full body dance movement, for some time and apparently, the idea probably popped into my head around two years ago.

According to Bet U Can Dance Owner Jeff Sherman, the Zumba craze peaked sometime in 2011 or early 2012. Since then, Sherman said, fitness fanatics have looked to other specialized workouts to fill the Zumba void, but said classes at his studio are often packed due to the interactive, welcoming atmosphere his instructors provide.

“The main difference between us and [classes] at gyms is at gyms, it’s a fitness class. Here, it’s a dance class. It’s a different vibe and feel for people,” Sherman said.

Don’t misinterpret — a “dance class” at the East Northport studio will certainly give you a high-energy workout; it’s just packaged in a different way.

Forget barbells, treadmills and stair masters (the easy part for me) and picture mirrors, mood lighting and colorful Latin music blasting just loud enough it is almost guaranteed to lure you out of your seat. As the music started, I realized the latter scenario worked wonders for me, and as the sounds of Latin pop-star Pitbull naturally called my name I didn’t even realize I was “working out.”

After the first 15 minutes or so I became aware of the traditional physiological signs of a workout, including but not limited to an increased heart rate, perspiration and above all, a dire craving for a water break.

The continuous footwork and constant movement (literally, there were no formal breaks) engages the entire body in a cardio workout, which, according to the official Zumba Fitness organization, can burn up to 1,000 calories in a session.

While I struggled slightly (a generous self-description) to keep up with the rest of the class, who seemed to have the movements down to a science, the energy of the room kept me on my toes and far from feeling discouraged. Discovering once again that the majority of participants in the class were at least 15 years my senior, rather than feeling discouraged or defeated by their movement mastery I instead felt inspired and only minimally jealous of their expertise.

While I admit that at times, I couldn’t tell whether I should be moving my feet, my abdomen or my behind, the energy in the room was contagious. Rather than wanting to take a “catch your breath” break, instead I feared missing out on a fun and energizing dance routine.

According to Sherman, Zumba classes cater to all levels of experience. He said that after four or five classes with one instructor, most clients are able to pick up on the different movements. Sherman said he instructs clients to try out several different instructors at his studio, as each brings to the table a different fitness experience.

“I recommend not working with just one instructor because then, you’re always working the same muscles. You work out different parts of the body that you didn’t even know you had with different instructors,” the owner said.

Walk-ins for Zumba classes cost $15. With an annual membership of $50, clients can purchase a package of 10 classes at $100 and 20 classes for $200. Package pricing varies for non-members.

Bet U Can Dance is primarily a ballroom dance studio, Sherman added, but their Zumba, Club-G, U-Jam and other dance fitness classes are always well attended.

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