Georgina Hosek has always been into swimming, horseback riding and any other activity that kept her blood pumping. She first heard about Zumba on television and decided to give it a shot. Since November, she’s been perfecting her cumbia and keeping her heart rate up each Saturday morning.

But one of the biggest benefits of the Latin dance inspired hour-long workout is the improvement of her chronic back pain.

“It makes you forget you’re exercising,” said Heather Potter, who’s shed 20 pounds since she began attending Zumba.

Because choreographed dances are set to high-energy, Latin-inspired music, Zumba participants easily forget their working out.

As I heard about friends in metropolitan areas climbing out of bed long before sunrise to shape up in “Boot Camp” style physical regimens or state of the art training facilities, I envied the amenities that are pretty much non-existent here in the Middle Keys.

Free strength training classes and frequent yoga classes abound during the busy winter months, but summer sees a dramatic decrease in the way of workout options – especially for average working stiffs!

I first heard about Zumba when instructor Rosa Shoaf wanted to host a Zumbathon this past March to raise money for American Heart Association’s Go Red Por Tu Corazón movement. For only $15, you could catch two straight hours of high-energy, heart-pumping dancing in the Community Park. Though I missed out on that experience, I was excited at the prospect of trying a fresh new workout people all over the country had been enjoying for quite some time.

With a hint of trepidation, I checked out my first class at the Total Wellness Center. Rosa was an adorable Panamian woman with spunk and the perfect energy to keep her students excited throughout the class.

“Bring it!” she’d shout as her hips swished and swayed in perfect time with the music that included a mix of contemporary hits as well as Reggaeton – a blend of salsa, soca, calypso, Latin pop and hip hop; needless to say, it keeps you moving!

“Keep marching, and keep your feet moving,” Zumba instructors always advise between songs where dancers grab a towel to swab the sweat pouring down their faces. Between gulps of water, there are always giggles and smiles.

“Is this the part where we’re supposed to tell you Zumba is fun?!” joked Joann Boyden half way through last Saturday morning’s class led by instructor Cora Baggs. But, she admitted that since taking up the classes only recently, she’s seen dramatic improvements in her constant battle with insomnia.

Carmen Carricaburu laughed and comforted me in my cadence challenge.

“I’m the Latin who lost my rhythm,” Carricaburu admitted, but she added, her endurance levels have nearly doubled. “I used to struggle to do 15 to 20 minutes on the elliptical, but now I can do 30 minutes – no problem!”

Zulma Jimenez first experienced the excitement of Zumba when instructor Katie Jackson began offering classes at Stanley Switlik for teachers this past spring. Her daughters, Caris, 3, and Calla, 7, enjoyed imitating the dancing action from the hallway while the teachers burned off their post-school stress. So, when Jackson and instructor Ruth Leal decided to offer Zumba Kids classes this summer in their new space at Theo & Ganine’s Dance Center in the D’Asign Plaza at 11450 Overseas Highway, Jiminez thought it was a no-brainer.

“Caris is actually a little young for this particular class, but she does a great job of keeping up!” Jimenez said of her youngest daughter.

Bella Gonzalez and Calla Jimenez “stir the chocolaté” Tuesday afternoon during Zumba Kids.

Zumba Kids classes are designed for fun, high-energy with specially choreographed, kid-friendly routines and music kids love. The class has received rave reviews from parents for the effects it has on their kids – increased focus and self-confidence; boosted metabolism and enhanced coordination.

Zumba Toning offers more targeted body-sculpting exercises blended into the high-energy cardio workout, and Zumba Gold, which will be available again in the fall, targets baby boomers with modified moves and pacing to suit the needs of active adult participants.

For more information about Marathon Zumba Fitness, call (305) 743-0660 or find them on Facebook.


Zumba instructors Katie Jackson, Ruth Leal and Cora Baggs.


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