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Zumba: It’s not just for moms

As the semester unfolds, more students are looking for fitness options on campus and, in turn, more students are flocking to Zumba.

As part of the UMBC Wellness Initiative, the RAC hosts group fitness classes throughout the semester. As one of those group classes, Zumba continues to increase in popularity among UMBC students, many of whom use the sessions as their personal exercise routines. The hour-long class is one of the most popular group fitness courses this semester, taught by one of four experienced instructors four days a week.

For Pragya Shroti, a graduate information systems student, the sessions are a central part of her physical activity. “Zumba is a fun cardio exercise for me. It helps me burn more calories in less time,” said Shroti. “I feel more fat loss with Zumba than with plain cardio because of its variety.”

The cardio workout utilizes dance aerobics with various styles of music, such as hip-hop or salsa, all with a Latin base. According to the official Zumba website, the activity is also prevalent in 150 countries, reaching 15 million people globally and becoming incredibly popular in the United States.

The full-body workout combines muscle conditioning, flex training and general cardio in a series of dance sets led by instructors with minimal verbal instruction, relying on mimicry and general understanding in order to imitate and complete various routines. Classes have continued to grow over the past years and show no sign of stopping, especially due to the social nature of Zumba groups.

The routine can also serve as a gateway into the larger UMBC group fitness community, as Jennifer Burley, Zumba instructor at UMBC, explained. “A lot of people tend to bring their friends to Zumba,” said Burley.

Participants may be inclined to invite their friends because of the extent to which Zumba is a judgment-free zone.

“It’s one of the more relaxed settings where people don’t have to focus too much on their form; they’re able to freestyle, they’re able to dance in their own way, so I think that usually when people come to Zumba they feel more comfortable going into other classes because they’re used to the group setting,” said Burley.

Nonetheless, for those students interested in group fitness activities besides Zumba, the RAC offers plenty of options such as Rhythm Rumble and Cardio Party. These sessions also utilize a relatively loose routine influenced by popular dance or martial arts. Additionally, yoga and pilates workouts are an option for those students working to build muscle tone.

Zumba and other workouts are available to any and all students and these fitness routines can help improve students’ physical and mental fitness, but also their enjoyment of their time at UMBC.