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ZUMBA: FUN PATH TO FITNESS

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Stephanie Broding-Sherwood leads a Zumba class at Fitness 1440 Gym in Forest Grove.This isn't your grandfather's workout regime. Or even your father's or mother's. But it could be.

Zumba is a dance fitness program created by Colombian dancer and choreographer Alberto "Beto" Perez during the 1990s and it's been taking the workout world by storm since then.

It combines the health benefits of aerobic exercise with the fun and entertainment value of dance.

"It's exercise in disguise," said Stephanie Broding-Sherwood, a Zumba instructor at Forest Grove's 1440 Fitness Gym.

"It focuses on fun, which makes it a good 'gateway exercise.' Meaning it gets people (who are) unaccustomed to working out, to the gym."

And that's a good thing.

January notoriously packs the gyms with people enthusiastic about getting fit for the new year, but often those same people are soon lulled to sleep by the monotony of treadmills, stationary bikes, and elliptical machines. NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Stephanie Broding-Sherwood leads a Zumba class at Fitness 1440 Gym in Forest Grove.

Zumba offers an alternative to that monotony, keeping people engaged in their goal of a "healthier you." The choreography incorporates facets of hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue and mambo, and sprinkles-in lunges and squats for good measure.

"Zumba doesn't seem like exercise," Stephanie said, "and it makes people feel like they're part of a community."

After-all, getting to the gym is half the battle, getting them to return is the hard part.

"There's a level of accountability in a class atmosphere. People hear about it from their friends and classmates if they don't show up. It motivates them."

"It's a great workout," Stephanie said, "but it's even more fun."