Op-Ed Trevino: "Zumba Utopia"

Posted: Apr 20 2014

One day I stumbled upon, or rather, into a Zumba class.  Sure, I’d heard about the exercise craze, arriving as it did in the wake of other “dance” aerobics offerings like “Hip-Hop” or “Bellydance.”  What I could not have known was that walking into Zumba class was it was going to be totally different - like walking into an alternate musical reality.  Where other aerobics classes got my cardio going to a set of tunes, ultimately I never escaped the feeling that I was working out, performing exercises to music.  Sure there were endorphins, but there was no euphoria.  Not until Zumba.

Zumba is an aerobics class using choreography and music inspired by Latin rhythms, moves and sounds.  An hour session can easily traverse salsa, cumbiamerengue, hip-hop and even Bollywood dancing.  The music is similarly diverse, gliding from quick, hard reggaeton beats to slow, melodic salsas.  The tonal bandwidth depends on how adventurous your Zumba instructor is in spirit. 

High energy, everybody, and synchonicity! Doing a Zumba class is like high-stepping into that fantasy musical world where a random group of people breaks into synchronized motion to high-energy music.  Yes!!   While that is more than enough to put a smile on my face after a long day at work, Zumba delivers something else.

Living now, far from my Mexican-American Texas roots, hopping into Zumba provides a spiritual comfort reminder of home.  As soon as the salsa music begins and my Zumba group starts tapping out the beat, I’m transported somewhere beyond the confines of the dance studio.  I’m back home dancing with my sister and mom to a scratchy cumbia on the record player; back to family weddings and BBQ’s on sunny, summer Saturdays; back to riding in the car with my folks on long road trips when I was held captive to their Tejano radio tastes.  Now in this dance studio far..far from Texas now, the salsa trumpets still sing, wrapping me in a sensory blanket as comforting as my Texas Longhorn snuggie…

It’s an equalizer…Zumba I mean. I always scan the (usually) full room.  The class is crowded with men and women of all ages, sizes and ethnicities.  It’s heartening to see I’m sharing my love for this music and high energy dancing with an eclectic group that otherwise would not exist in a common space.  In Zumba, we’ve all come from different backgrounds to drop our daily routine and join in on the synchronized fun -- just like in those musical dance sequences I love.  That’s the rejuvenating power of Zumba. Check it out.  The Zumba utopia.

-Liza Trevino
Liza is an Op-Ed contributor to Hispanic.com

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