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Zumba

noun [uncountable] trademark

a fitness activity in which dance exercises are performed to Latin American and other kinds of lively music

'Jonathan Framp may be the only man in his Zumba class, but he is so taken with this Latin-inspired exercise that he is organising a Zumbathon.'

Surrey Today 18th April 2012

'Pregnant mom still dances to the beat … Abby Honaker made two women puke during one of her high-intensity Zumba classes … She wants to prove anybody can work out, even if they are tired, overweight, scared or in her case, nine months pregnant.'

Daily Telegraph 13th November 2011

Food "on-the-go" – calorific and unhealthy. Sedentary lifestyles – by day, eight hours sitting at a desk, by night, slumped on the sofa, socializing via the Internet or watching TV. There's no doubt that for many of us, myself included, 21st century lifestyles are obesogenic, predisposing us to become a size or two larger than we should be. We're therefore continually finding new ways to motivate ourselves into shedding a few pounds, and one of the latest additions to the various activities aimed at pumping and sweating our way to improved fitness is Zumba.

if you're one of those types who can always be lured onto the dance floor at a party, then Zumba might be just the thing to get your legs moving

If on the one hand you're the sort of person who could never see yourself at a gym, or simply finds other, conventional ways of taking exercise rather unappealing, but, at the same time, you're one of those types who can always be lured onto the dance floor at a party, then Zumba might be just the thing to get your legs moving. Zumba is a form of fitness class in which you burn off calories by dancing to different kinds of lively tunes, often Latin-American inspired such as salsa, merengue and samba, but also other types of modern music like hip hop and Bollywood (music from the Indian film industry). Zumba is truly eclectic in its approach, even sometimes incorporating moves from belly dancing and martial arts. Classes typically last for about an hour and include exercises to both fast and slow rhythms. There's even a water-based alternative performed in a swimming pool, referred to as Aqua Zumba.

Zumba is proving to have universal appeal, attracting people of all shapes, sizes and ages, and now practised in more than 100 countries across the globe. The key to its popularity seems to lie in the way it combines internationally recognised music with simple but addictive dance steps, in doing so creating a kind of 'fitness party'. It's this concept on which Zumba classes are promoted, often by taglines such as 'ditch the workout, join the party'. If you'd like to see Zumba in action, check out this link which gives a demonstration of some basic steps.

Background – Zumba

The concept of Zumba was invented in the mid-nineties by Colombian fitness instructor Alberto Perez. Perez had gone to teach an aerobics class and, realising that he'd forgotten to bring traditional aerobics music, improvised by using his own mix of music (salsa and merengue) from tapes he happened to have in his bag. This proved instantly popular with the class, spontaneously creating a novel kind of dance-fitness programme focussed on letting the music naturally 'move' participants. In 2001, Perez took this new dance-fitness concept to the USA and joined forces with entrepreneurs and fellow Latin Americans Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion, the three launching a business they named Zumba Fitness LLC. Use of the term Zumba was an arbitrary, creative coinage, trademarked as a catchy brand name. Since then both the concept and the brand have become a globally successful phenomenon, spawning the launch of Zumba academies to train approved instructors, Zumba music CDs, Zumba video games on various gaming platforms, and even clothes and accessories branded Zumbawear. The popularity of the activity has even taken it into the realm of fundraising events, so that, following in the wake of dance-a-thons, swimathons, telethons, phonathons etc, the Zumbathon has now become a popular way to raise money for charitable causes.

For teachers

Would you like to use this BuzzWord article in class? Visit onestopenglish.com for tips and suggestions on how to do just that! This downloadable pdf contains a student worksheet which includes reading activities, vocabulary-building exercises and a focus on adjectives and trademarks.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

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This article was first published on 11th June 2012.

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