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With its heart-thumping music, entertaining choreography, and overall sense of fun, itís hard to believe we were working out as opposed to working the dance floor of a club. But I guess thatís why Zumba is called an exercise in disguise.
Every Tuesday night through August, the Hatch Shell in Boston transforms into one big dance party. Hundreds of participants show up each week to get their groove on, as part of the free Zumba classes offered by the Esplanade Association.
A chiseled instructor from Healthworks, with spectacular rhythm, led the 60-minute class. The carefully selected play-list was heavy on the beat and light on lyrics, and you could not help but move your hips once the music started.
The choreography is based on hip-hop, salsa, samba, and even some belly dancing. There are also squats and lunges sprinkled into the routine. In unison, hundreds of participants, the vast majority of them women, attempted to mirror the instructorís every move. His cues were non-verbal, so the key was to watch and learn.
The zealous energy of the participants, in addition to the vast diversity among them, is perhaps what made this class unique. The crowd was comprised of young kids, senior citizens, and everyone in between. To the right of me was a group of women who came to the class as part of a girls night out. To the left were a few young professionals who had just come from work, in search of a fun way to relieve stress after a long day. And behind me was an older couple dancing with their granddaughter.
Abilities among the participants also varied. Some picked up the choreography quickly, while others, like myself, struggled to find anything that resembled rhythm. No matter what your moves looked like, though, everyone had a smile on their face and shared an overall sense of enthusiasm. There was no competition, no intensity. Instead, the name of the game here was fun.
Zumba definitely gets the heart pumping and the blood flowing, and you will certainly work up a sweat. While I wouldnít say itís the toughest workout Iíve ever done, it was certainly one of the most enjoyable. And more than anything, it brings people together and gets them moving.
In addition to Tuesday night Zumba, the Esplanade Associationís ďHealthy, Fit, & FunĒ program offers an array of other workout options. On Mondayís, there is a power walking group, on Wednesdayís yoga and a running club, on Thursdays thereís CrossFit, and on Friday a free bootcamp is offered. All of them provide the perfect opportunity to get fit for free this summer.
Zumba, www.esplanadeassociation.org, Tuesday nights through August, free.