Believe it or not, it's been 10 years since the word "Zumba" first entered our vocabulary, describing the Latin-themed dance/fitness program which blends movement-inspiring music and contagious dance steps.
Since 2001, the program has been shared 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.
And now, Zumba has arrived at the Sanibel Community House.
Offered on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 10 a.m., as well as at 7 a.m. on Wednesdays during the month of April (for island workers), Zumba Fitness classes are being conducted by local fitness gurus Evette Zurbriggen and Barbara Davis.
"My intention is to not only help women here on Sanibel to get into better shape, but anybody who wants to improve themselves through fitness and fun," said Zurbriggen, who started teaching classes in December 2010. "We (Barbara Davis and Jill Kobe, the SCH executive director) have been working together not only to bring Zumba here to the Community House, but to bring Zumba wherever their are people who want to get involved with it. We can bring it almost anywhere."
According to Zurbriggen, she and Davis offer instruction for the "standard" Zumba program — feature exotic rhythms set to high-energy Latin and international beats — as well as Zumba Gold, an equally fun but low-impact mix of salsa, merengue, hip-hop and reggae tunes paired with easy-to-follow movements.
"The Gold classes are for people who may already be active but don't want to do any jumping, or who have a limited range of motion" said Davis, a Zumba participant since June 2010. "It's still a really good workout. Everybody gets a good sweat going and there's a lot of international music playing."
"If you can walk, you can Zumba," added Zurbriggen.
Fay Carney, an island resident who began taking Zumba classes up north, was delighted to find that instruction was now being offered on Sanibel.
"Most exercise is boring and repetitious, but Zumba is fun," said Carney. "The hour goes by before you know it. I'm gonna be doing this until I can't do it any more!"
Ed Liberator, who last Thursday was attending his first Zumba session, wanted to see what the craze was all about for himself.
"I'm kind of uncoordinated," said Liberator with a laugh. "I work out every day, but I'm looking for something different. I'm looking for a little variety in my activities."
In the front room of the Community House, Davis — wearing a headset microphone — calls out each step as her class moved side-to-side, hips shaking and arms waving. The beat of the music playing inspires her students to dance non-stop from one song to the next, never missing a beat.
Zurbriggen, who also is promoting Zumba wear — as featured on www.zumba.com — for island participants, hopes more locals will try the dance/fitness phenomenon. An end-of-season special to attend up to 10 classes during the month costs only $30.
"We can accommodate up to 25 people in each class," she added, noting that this fall, classes will expand to five days per week. "Ditch the workout and join the party!"
Evette Zurbriggen, left, and Barbara Davis display the Zumba banner in the lobby of the Sanibel Community House, where classes are offered three days per week.