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Zumba craze gains following in Estacada

Curves looks for larger location to host popular fitness class
by: Nolene Triska Curves of Estacada owner Susan Wagner teaches a Zumba class at the women’s-only workout center. However, with growing interest and participation in the dance-fitness workout, Wagner plans to host the class at a larger location in Estacada and open it to all community members.

When Estacada resident Serena Wilson heard about Zumba classes at Estacada Curves, she wasn't the first to step up and dance, but with a little encouragement from Curves owner Susan Wagner, Wilson agreed to give it a try.

In no time, Wilson was dancing and moving to the Zumba music inside Curves and was addicted to participating in the regular classes as part of her weekly exercise regimen. Wagner launched Zumba sessions at Curves earlier this year that have attracted a following of fans like Wilson. The classes have grown so much in popularity that Wagner plans to move them to a larger location in Estacada, open to anyone in the community for a small fee.

'I love Zumba,' Wilson said. 'Since Susan started teaching Zumba classes, I've been going to the Monday morning classes and have been trying to make it to the classes on Thursday and Friday. That's how much I love it.'

The Zumba dance and fitness workout was first introduced in the 1990s by dancer and choreographer Alberto Perez in Columbia, and the concept was later marketed and branded to sell such merchandise as workout gear, DVDs and more. The program combines Latin and international music with dance, and now more than 10 million people participate in Zumba classes on a regular basis, according to a 2010 story published in Inc. magazine.

'I'm a heavyset girl, but I've already toned up and lost inches,' Wilson said. 'My self esteem is up, and I always feel really good after a Zumba workout with Susan. It's a great workout, and I wouldn't have done it without Susan encouraging me to give it a try. She just started talking about it one day, I watched a video about Zumba, and said, 'I don't know, but I'll give it a try,' and after that I was hooked.'

Fitness experts estimate that calories burned during a 30-minute Zumba workout can total 250 or more, depending upon fitness level and body composition. With an energetic instructor and upbeat music, all participants have to do is follow along and the health benefits result. When Curves announced plans to endorse Zumba classes for its women-only fitness centers, Wagner signed up for a certification class and survived an eight-hour crash course with expert twenty-something fitness trainers, who guided her through the steps to teach the workout to others.

'I think Zumba is a lot of fun,' Wagner said. 'When it comes to exercise and fitness, people like change, and if you don't change your workouts, people get tired. Zumba is a really great workout that moves every part of your body. Since I started training and teaching Zumba classes, I've lost body fat, I've lost weight, and I've watched the inches come off. It may not be the easiest thing for everyone to acclimate to, but all you really have to do is give it a try. You'll have a good time and feel good after the workout.'

In just over a month of Zumba classes at Curves, the interest in the class has quickly outgrown its space in Curves' small workout room. Wagner is exploring several options to host larger Zumba classes in Estacada. Once she determines the location, classes will be open to men and women.

When Wagner committed to teach Zumba classes, she admits, she wasn't in the greatest shape to participate and teach the workouts to others. Before attending her eight-hour certification class in Beaverton, Wagner spent a month on her own beefing up her cardio and strength training workouts and practicing Zumba on her own. By the time she arrived for the class, she already had a solid foundation to start from, but it still wasn't easy.

'I've thoroughly enjoyed this,' Wagner said. 'It's been a journey. No matter what age you are, you can reinvent yourself, and that's what I kind of had to do to teach Zumba. If you don't think you can, or are having trouble seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with dieting or weight loss, you need to give this a try. The word 'can't' should not even be in your vocabulary. Anybody can do this and I've already seen a lot of our ladies lose weight and tone up.'