ENERGISED: Fitness instructor Allan Balfour, —Photos: STEPHEN DOOBAY

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Let's get ready to Zumba!

By Kimoy Leon Sing

Learn to swivel, pivot and shake your way to fitness through the popular Latin dance-inspired fitness craze, Zumba. Fitness instructor Allan Balfour fuses energetic aerobics with various Latin dance styles, and is eager to teach the people of Trinidad and Tobago how to incorporate fun into their workouts.

Balfour is a licenced Zumba instructor and an accomplished dancer and choreographer. He has worked with many of the major dance companies in Trinidad and Tobago, and has done prominent concerts and commercial events for Republic Bank, Royal Bank, Tatil and the National Dance Association. In 2003, he became the first male Caribbean dancer to perform with Disney's production of The Lion King in London West. With a strong background in dance, Balfour says through Zumba he is able to marry his two passions, dance and fitness.

He said, "Zumba was created by Alberto "Beto" Perez from Colombia. Perez, a fitness instructor stumbled upon this new form of exercise one fateful day in the mid-90s when he darted off to teach an aerobics class. When he got there he discovered he forgot his traditional aerobics music so he had to improvise. Rummaging through his own mix of music tapes he had in his backpack, he grabbed a mix of salsa and merengue music he personally liked to dance to. The response by his class was overwhelming and Perez realised he had truly found something unique."

He added, "Zumba can be done by anyone. The exercises can be high or low impact to meet the clients' needs. It's an exhilarating, effective, easy-to-follow, calorie-burning dance/fitness programme that helps you to lose weight, stay fit and have fun."

 "The music for Zumba comes from various dance styles such as cumbia, salsa, merengue, mambo, flamenco and reggaeton. The calories typically burned during a one hour class range from 500-1000 and depends on your weight, workout duration and workout intensity," he said.

"If you don't like to exercise but need to shed some excess pounds, then Zumba is perfect for you. In 2001, Perez brought Zumba to Miami, Florida and through a student, met entrepreneurs Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion. All three came from Colombia and all three had a vision to bring Zumba to the masses. The concept was to get people to a place of enjoying their workouts instead of dreading it. Now the Zumba programme has grown tremendously since then with more than 12 million people of all shapes, sizes and ages taking weekly Zumba classes in over 110,000 locations across more than 125 countries in the world," he said.

"To start all you need is comfortable shoes and regular gym wear. It does not matter if you can or can't dance, people should not feel intimidated. You don't have to be a professional dancer to do Zumba. The steps are easy, repetitive and after your third session, you would find it comes naturally. I suggest to some of my clients to come in early and sit and talk with those who are already in the Zumba class and hear what it has been like for them. It is also important for those who are trying Zumba for the first time to talk to your instructor and share with him any problems or concerns that you might have. Of course, in order to see the benefits of Zumba, you must incorporate a balanced diet in your routine," Balfour said.

"It is exercise in disguise. You are dancing and having fun while burning calories. Though relatively new in Trinidad, Zumba has expanded since its inception and currently offers six types of Zumba classes: Zumba, Zumba Gold, Zumba Toning, Aqua Zumba, Zumbatomic and Zumba in the Circuit. I currently offer just Zumba but I have plans to explore the other programmes because I see there is market for it," he added.

Every Wednesdays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 10.15 a.m., Balfour does a one hour Zumba class at the Trinidad Country Club, Long Circular Road, Maraval. Tomorrow he will have a free Zumba class at the La Joya complex at 6.45 p.m.

For more information email at zumbatt@yahoo.com or call 744-2380

About Zumba Here is a brief description of the different types of zumba classes offered taken from their website http://www.zumba.com/clubs/ Zumba Zumba classes feature exotic rhythms set to high-energy Latin and international beats. Before participants know it, they're getting fit and their energy levels are soaring. There's no other fitness class like a Zumba Fitness-Party. It's easy to do, effective and totally exhilarating, often building a deep-rooted community among returning students. Zumba Gold Zumba Gold targets the largest growing segment of the population: baby boomers. It takes the Zumba formula and modifies the moves and pacing to suit the needs of the active older participant, as well as those just starting their journey to a fit and healthy lifestyle. What stays the same are all the elements the Zumba Fitness-Party is known for: the zesty Latin music, like salsa, merengue, cumbia and reggaeton; the exhilarating, easy-to-follow moves; and the invigorating, party-like atmosphere. Active older adults want camaraderie, excitement and fitness as a regular part of their weekly schedule. Zumba Gold is the perfect fit. It's a dance-fitness class that feels friendly, and most of all, fun. Zumba Toning When it comes to body sculpting, Zumba Toning raises the bar (or rather, the toning stick). It combines targeted body-sculpting exercises and high-energy cardio work with Latin-infused Zumba moves to create a calorie-torching, strength-training dance fitness-party. Students learn how to use lightweight, maraca-like Toning Sticks to enhance rhythm and tone to all their target zones, including arms, abs, glutes and thighs. Zumba Toning is the perfect way for enthusiasts to sculpt their bodies naturally while having a total blast. Aqua Zumba Known as the Zumba "pool party," Aqua Zumba gives new meaning to the idea of an invigorating workout. Splashing, stretching, twisting, and even shouting, laughing, hooting and hollering are often heard during an Aqua Zumba class. Integrating the Zumba formula and philosophy with traditional aqua fitness disciplines, Aqua Zumba blends it all together into a safe, challenging, water-based workout that's cardio-conditioning, body-toning, and most of all, exhilarating beyond belief. Zumbatomic Designed exclusively for kids (ages 4 -12), Zumbatomic classes are rocking', high-energy fitness-parties packed with specially choreographed, kid-friendly routines and all the music kids love, like hip-hop, reggaeton, cumbia and more. Parents love Zumbatomic because of the effects it has on kids, increasing their focus and self-confidence, boosting metabolism and enhancing coordination. Zumba in the Circuit Maximise your workout while still having a total blast. Zumba in the Circuit is 30 minutes of high-octane, Latin-inspired dance-fitness moves combined with circuit training, a series of strength exercises at timed intervals. Get the metabolism- boosting, strength-building benefits of circuit training while perfecting Zumba moves all in the same class! Guaranteed to blast calories and thwart boredom, Zumba in the Circuit moves students from one exercise station to the next to the thumping beats of reggaeton, salsa, merengue, hip-hop and more. Be in and out in 30 minutes flat — this time-effective and efficient class can be adapted for all fitness levels.

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