Across the world, Zumba fitness seems to be growing in popularity at an exponential rate.
Whether you’re young, old, a fantastic dancer or a terrible one, everyone nowadays seems to be cranking up Latin music.
Zumba is a relatively new craze that first hit the world in 2001, after fitness instructor Alberto Perez replaced his usual aerobics music tapes with his own mix of Latin music.
The official Zumba website claims it is the only dance-fitness program to draw a crowd of more than 10 million people worldwide, making it a truly universal sensation.
But what makes it so popular?
For one, nearly anyone can do it. Most classes don’t require any dance experience, and there isn’t any distinction between the beginners and the more advanced dancers when it comes to Zumba dancing.
The atmosphere is specifically designed to promote unity and encouragement.
Like regular aerobics classes, you mirror an instructor’s moves.
But instead of counting reps, the primary focus is on keeping up with the rhythm and the beat and, of course, having fun.
USC has not been immune to the worldwide obsession.
At the Trojan Dance Marathon on Feb. 16, one of the dance activities was a group-wide Zumba session, in which a seasoned instructor choreographed an easy-to-follow routine to a variety of Latin beats.
There are also Zumba classes available at the Lyon Center.
The recent Zumba movement has also manifested itself in the new seven-disc set called Zumba Fitness Exhilarate: The Ultimate Experience DVD Set, which is scheduled to be released Friday.
The collection is priced at $149.99 on Amazon.com and comes with a pair of special Zumba toning sticks, which are basically weights you hold while you dance, Exhilarate attempts to target a wide range of people with its great variety of fun workout options.
It has routines for beginners as well as warm-ups for those rushing to fit in an easy workout.
Each DVD serves a unique purpose and dancers can find one to fit their schedule and comfort level.
But is the set ultimately worth buying?
The truth is several cheaper alternatives exist that are better options for those looking to see what the Zumba craze is all about.
For college students, attending fitness classes on- or off-campus isn’t always flexible, and forking out a hundred bucks isn’t an option, either.
Instead of the Exhilarate collection, students can purchase the slightly cheaper and older Zumba Fitness Total Body Transformation System DVD Set. The collection is a four-disc set that is available for a somewhat more reasonable price of $65.
But if you’re looking for something even cheaper, your best bet is to invest in the one-and-only Zumba Fitness video game.
It is available for about $40 on Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 game consoles.
Although there are several ways to get involved in Zumba, there’s no denying the advertisements and products specifically target a female audience.
Zumba might have been originally designed by a man, but it’s difficult to encourage men to get seriously involved in working out when images of scantily clad, stomach-showing women dominate the covers of DVD sets and advertisements.
Even the new Exhilarate collection, with its seven separate discs, has just a single disc with the image of a male dancer on it. The rest have women.
But men shouldn’t use these examples as an excuse to skip out on trying Zumba.
In fact, there seems to have been backlash recently against the presumptions that Zumba is a “feminine” sport.
A Facebook page called “Men can Zumba too, ” was created in Sept. 2010, to encourage more male participation.
It’s true Zumba classes are dominated by women, but men shouldn’t hesitate to give them a shot, or at least invest in a DVD or two to get started.
Zumba, after all, is meant to be accessible to all types of people in a variety of forms, from fitness classes to DVD sets.
Your gender, age and physical ability are all irrelevant when it comes to having fun while getting a workout.
And that’s what Zumba’s all about.
Hannah Muniz is a sophomore majoring in East Asian languages and cultures and creative writing. Her column, “Fit ‘n Fab,” runs Mondays.