Gearing up for ZumBacolod

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

NOWADAYS, physical fitness enthusiasts and health advocates in Bacolod City converge in malls, dance studios or parks to "party" and dance to the music that comes from the following dance styles: cumbia, salsa, merengue, mambo, flamenco, chachacha, reggaeton, soca, samba, tango and hiphop.

This latest dance craze also involves martial arts and aerobic elements and is approximated to have converted 14 million people in over 140,000 locations across more than 185 countries in the world.

It's called Zumba, and Bacolod is gearing up for its own ZumBacolod!


Zumba is a dance fitness program borne out of aerobics improvisation. In the 1990s, Columbian dancer and choreographer Alberto "Beto" Perez forgot his tape of aerobics music for a class he was teaching. He foraged traditional salsa and merengue music from his car and improvised a class using this non-traditional music.

In 2001, Beto moved to USA and teamed up with Alberto Periman and Alberto Aghion in producing a demo reel, and the concept was discovered and licensed by a company called Fitness Quest that created a direct marketing campaign and a line of home videos.

The three of them have since turned the Zumba program into a global movement as the largest branded dance-fitness program in the world.

Zumba sessions are typically about an hour long and are taught by licensed instructors. The exercise includes fast and slow movements as well as resistance training.

There are types of classes for different levels of age and exertion. Zumba Gold is specifically designed for the needs of the elderly. Zumba Gold-Toning is a toning class for older participants with goals of improving muscle strength, posture, mobility and coordination. Zumba Step tones and strengthens the legs through Zumba routines and step aerobics.

Zumba Toners do their workouts with toning sticks. It targets the abs, thighs, arms and other muscles throughout the body. Aqua Zumba is done in a shallow water of a swimming pool. It combines the same dance movements in a Zumba fitness class with those used in aqua fitness classes.

Zumba in the circuit usually last 30 minutes and uses strength exercises in various stations in timed intervals. ZumbaKids is designed for children between the ages 4 and 12. ZumbaSentao is a chair workout that uses body weight to strengthen and tone the body.

Zumba instructors who are ZIN (Zumba Instructors Network) members receive bi-monthly training DVDs to assist with the creation of music and choreography for their personal Zumba classes and are the only instructors allowed to register for the new Zumba Core training class which helps to incorporate more core training into any type of Zumba class.

Recently, a group of young dance fitness enthusiasts in Bacolod have banded together to add to a growing list of Zumba die-hards and is embarking on an ambitious party called ZumBacolod.

The six-pack team is composed of Ryan Jereza, Ivan del Prado, Geralyn Nietes, Joemar Patigayon, Chris Jun Pasco and Mynard Maghari.

All of them conduct power combat, taebo and zumba sessions at the The District North Point in Ayala, Talisay City. Coming from different dance and fitness studios in the city, they aim to gather hundreds of fitness enthusiasts in one big event to help establish Bacolod as a Zumba City.

When I met the group, Mynard and Chris Jun acknowledged the contributions of Ching Alcala, Joan Visitacion and the dance and fitness studios such as the MMB, the Eclipse Gym, the Presidents Gym, Center Stage, among others, in the popularization of Zumba.

According to Mynard, he had experienced a high level of "feeling good" after attending his first Zumba class and from thereon, he wanted to return again and again, until he was able to secure his license. He attributed this positive self-image to weight loss, well-balanced nutrition and the excitement of creating dance routines for his Zumba classes. After all, he was a dancer and choreographer in various dance shows and competitions during his college years at the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos. Both Mynard and Chris Jun want to share the natural high they had experienced in Zumba to as many people as they can, regardless of age.

Geralyn, the lone female member of the group, was a former member of the UNO-R Kasadyahan Dance Company. A teacher of Rafael Alunan Elementary School, she was able to maintain her dancer's body after college through Zumba. She said most people who are attending Zumba classes are having a blast and they don't even realize they are exercising. She looks forward to attending a really big fitness party in the city that Mynard is conceptualizing.

Ivan is one of the choreographers and founding member of the award-winning hip hop group, the Critical Breakdown; the members of which are mostly students and alumni of Colegio San Agustin-Bacolod. This Computer Science graduate of STI is a certified b-boy, a slang term for a break dancer. For him, attending Zumba classes is akin to competing in a break dance battle... the music, the steps, the moves, the energy! He hopes that more young people would be able to attend the Zumba classes to balance their waking hours that are spent most of the time on gadgets.

Like Ivan, Joemar is a hip hop dancer. He was also a MassKara Festival dancer of Barangay Mandalagan, the 2008 and 2010 champion in the barangay category of the street dance competition. He says Zumba is like the MassKara dance as it is also easy and done in a non-intimidating learning environment.

Ryan is an Industrial Technology graduate of Bacolod City College. A licensed Zumba instructor and a veteran of several dance fitness studios in the city, he adheres to the idea that as instructor, one is empowered with a unique opportunity to make an impact in the students' lives: physically, mentally and emotionally. Having the passion to help, inspire and motivate others is just as important to the students' success as music and choreography skills.

Watch out for ZumBacolod!

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 29, 2014.


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