Zumba fitness craze hits Sabah

KOTA KINABALU - Exercising becomes exciting when it turns into a dance-fitness party with people moving to a beat to burn calories.

The Latin-inspired dance-fitness programme Zumba is the "in-thing" among fitness junkies here.

A co-founder of Zumba Fitness Sabah, Shirley Primus, said many people had opted for Zumba because of its creative form of exercise which was exhilarating.

Introduced last year, she said there was an overwhelming response from the people towards the new calorie-burning dance.

"At first, Zumba was conducted in a sport complex where many people, especially women, had joined to get a taste of it.

"Slowly, it became popular. People began taking instructor courses and conducting their own Zumba classes," said the 39-year-old instructor.

She noted that Zumba was not only an exercise, but also helped to bring fun and happiness to a person's life.

Children and grandmothers are joining in the fun exercise.

"When they are on the floor, they seem to forget about working out because everyone is having fun, which allows them to exercise longer and burn even more calories," Shirley added.

Another Zumba instructor, Jay Jazuil, 31, said although women were seen monopolising the Zumba fitness floor, the men were slowly getting used to the new trend.

"Men's involvement in Zumba, especially in Sabah, is still low because most likely they see it as a girl thing.

"Zumba is still new here, but the men are getting there ... it is a fun way of exercising where you can just dance to the beat with your own style," said the Klang-born lad.

Jay said a Zumba session lasted about an hour and incorporated several dance styles, including merengue, salsa, and rumba.

The music used during the dance session includes both fast and slow rhythms, allowing for a great cardio workout and body sculpting exercises.

Fharelynne Ivonne Henry, 27, a Zumba lover and who works as an administrative manager, started her first Zumba fitness session last month along with her mother.

She said weight loss was noticeable in her mother, who lost 3.2kg after attending seven sessions.

"I think it differs among individuals. I was underweight and since I joined the Zumba fitness session, I got to achieve the right body mass index.

"I went from 45kg to 51kg, but it is muscle mass," she said, adding that she went for Zumba session three times a week with each session lasting 11/2 hours.

After getting hooked on Zumba, Fharellyne also decided to sign up for an instructor's course, where she would undergo training in Kuala Lumpur.