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Zumba in Ottawa

Zumba is for everyone

by Kerra Seay

Zumba is taking the world by storm with its fun dance-style form of exercise. Zumba classes are popping up everywhere, including college and university campuses.

Created less than two decades ago, Zumba has quickly become one of the most popular and well-known workout routines.

Lesley Bowlby, the fitness coordinator in the Department of Recreation and Athletics at Carleton University says that Zumba only came on her radar about five years ago. All she had to do was sit in on one class before she knew that this was something she wanted to offer her students.

“I was contacted by an individual who more or less brought Zumba to Ottawa, named Carolina,” says Bowlby as she discusses her first experience with Zumba. “I went out and just watched a class that she was teaching and it looked like a blast.”

Bowlby says she did not hesitate to bring Zumba to Carleton because she believed her students would absolutely love it. Bowlby says, “I hired [Carolina] on the spot and brought her to Carleton.” This is not a decision Bowlby has regretted.

Bowlby says that the classes have been incredibly popular at Carleton. She says some classes can have as many as 60 people in them. When it comes to Zumba, the larger the group the better.

“It’s wild. The more people, the more energy that happens, and it’s very exciting.”

Zumba’s signature music style is used to get everyone’s energy levels up. Latin American style dance music pumps up the crowd and makes their workout feel less like an actual workout and more like a dance party.

Shannon Maloney, a student at the University of Ottawa, initially joined Zumba to get fit, and found that she enjoyed Zumba a lot more than she thought she would.

“I thought Zumba would be a fun way to exercise,” says Maloney. “The music made it really fun.”

Though most of Zumba participants are young women, Zumba is not just for this age group. Bowlby says that Carleton offers a Zumba Gold class for those who are 50+ but still want a fun way to stay fit.

“It’s a gentler form of Zumba, and you’re in your peer group,” says Bowlby. “They are extremely popular, especially in the community.”

Zumba has created an opportunity for new types of exercise classes to develop. Bowlby says that due to the “Zumba craze” Carleton now offers all different types of classes for its students, including a belly dancing class.

“This Zumba-type craze is branching out into different styles of dance. It’s just more or less a dance party.”

Zumba classes are offered all over Ottawa multiple times a week, so there is no excuse not to give it a shot. Bowlby says that everyone should try Zumba.

“Just go. Go and watch,” Bowlby says. “If you don’t want to take part. But make sure you’re in clothes you can work out in, because I know once you watch one or two routines you’ll want to get up there and do it too.”

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