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WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

If you want to inject a bit of fun into your fitness, you could do worse than take up Zumba. Its motto is: "Ditch the workout! Join the party" and since launching by an accident by Colombian fitness trainer Beto Perez in the 90s, there are over 140,000 locations that hold Zumba classes across more than 150 countries.

Image credit: Ariwasabi/Fotolia

Inspired by the traditional salsa, samba, merengue music Perez grew up with, Perez took his first Zumba class while teaching an aerobics class in 1986. The instructor discovered he had forgotten his usual music, so he dug through his bag of tapes and grabbed a mix of salsa and merengue music he personally liked to dance to.

"I just said, 'Class today is different,'" says Beto Perez, "and everybody loved it."

Zumba's success grew steadily after Perez moved first to Bogota, Colombia and later to Miami. In 1999, Alberto Perlman and entrepreneur Alberto Aghion approached Perez about bringing Zumba to the mass market, which led to the three selling DVDs via infomercials in 2002. It was very successful, but enthusiasts demanded more.

In 2005, Perez, Perlman, and Aghion developed an educational division, wrote a training manual, and began offering Zumba workshops to those interested in teaching. The demand was out of this world - and still is; there are now 14 million people participating in Zumba classes per week and over 25,000 instructors.

Paula Pereira, a Zumba instructor based in London, took up teaching after losing 3 1/2 stone through Zumba. She started at a size 18 and now is a size 10 and has a successful business out of it.

Yasmine Baig a teacher in Cardiff, started teaching the dance class because she had a real passion for dance. "I started going to the classes myself and I knew pretty much after three or four times of going that it was something I really wanted to teach. It was vital that I shared with others that it is possible to exercise and still have fun, which is what Zumba is all about."

What is Zumba?

The figures say it all. Zumba is one of the fastest growing fitness crazes in the UK. You can take part at any age. The dance moves are easy to follow and it burns calories and tones up your body at the same time as having a good giggle.

Zumba education specialist, Caroline Parsons says: "Zumba is the best fun you'll ever have working out but it also tones the whole body, especially the arms, legs and abs"

Inspired by traditional salsa, samba, merengue music, paired with pulsating Latin rhythms and international dance steps, Zumba means move fast and have fun and you certainly do that. It doesn’t feel like you’re doing exercise. One minute you’ll be doing a cha-cha-cha step, and then you’ll move into a Greek dance routine. It’s very high-energy and a real laugh.

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