Zumba Fitness
Dezsa C. Rubio (The Freeman) - November 5, 2017 - 4:00pm

CEBU, Philippines — Several years back, Zumba wasn’t a big phenomenon that it is now.  Today, people in spandex and a handy water bottle grooving to pop music in public areas are a common scene. But back in the early 2000s, one would not have expected that this accidental workout routine would be welcomed in different corners of the world and, in fact, become a worldwide lifestyle.

Zumba is a fusion of entertainment and fitness in an energizing total-body workout that burns calories – through dancing. Zumba blends upbeat rhythms with simple but hip choreography in routines like salsa, hiphop, meringue, cumbia and reggaeton.

It was Colombian aerobics instructor Alberto “Berto” Perez that started Zumba Fitness. In his class one day, Berto forgot to bring his aerobics music tape and was left only with his mix of Latin tracks. Immediately, he came up with a fresh dance workout which became the Zumba Fitness Party.

While the West has been enjoying the fun fitness program since 2001, it wasn’t until 2011 that the Filipinos had a taste of this dance workout – thanks to the now renowned Zumba Queen of the Philippines, Emma Satchell.

Satchell learned Zumba by attending classes in the U.S. conducted by Beto Perez’s assistant, Kho Herlong. She was egged by the other parents at her children’s school to try Zumba. They told her that since she danced well, the Zumba program would fit her.

At the time, her life in the U.S. all revolved around her children and her husband, so focused in being the loving mother and wife she thought they needed. But she loved dancing, too; it was an effective stress reliever for her. With her youthful eagerness to continue learning, she attended Zumba classes and, in 2007, she got a license as a Zumba instructor.

What was simply a diversion became a profession for Satchell. And then she embarked on teaching Zumba in a whirlwind of classes in different countries including Australia, the United States, Singapore and finally the Philippines. She introduced Zumba in Manila and then in Cebu, dancing in parks and other public places.

With the hype that Zumba Fitness is getting today, one wouldn’t have thought it wasn’t easy promoting it the country. In doing public Zumba sessions, Satchell had been initially laughed at by passersby, who had not the slightest idea what it was and how the ‘dance’ can be beneficial. But she was determined, she continued to do it in more places, reach out to gyms.  And more and more people were drawn to Zumba.

Satchell has since been sought after by Cebu’s fitness gyms. But she knows that not everybody could afford a gym membership. So, she continues reaching out to barangays and malls, where she conducts Zumba sessions for free.

More than the joy of dancing, the 48-year-old Satchell finds self-fulfillment in Zumba. In her six years of teaching Zumba in the Philippines, she has seen improvement in the lives of her students. And it fires her up even more. “I cannot stop because I’m seeing more people into the workout,” she says, glad that people are realizing how Zumba can contribute to their total wellbeing.

Popularly dubbed “Zumba Queen,” Satchell shares basic tips for those who have yet to dance their way into a healthy lifestyle:

1. Bring water. It is essential to keep yourself hydrated while you’re sweating out those calories!

2. Dance at your own pace. Do not exert too much effort in the dance steps if you feel the beat is too much for your body. Go slow first and move to the rhythm with as much energy as you can.

3. After working out, eat in small portions. While a cardio workout helps in trimming and toning the body, the program won’t work if you chow down heavy meals always. Observe moderation in your diet or the program won’t be as effective.

4. Communicate with the instructor. Whether about physical problems that would be a restriction, tips, certain workouts to focus on problem areas or for motivation, the Zumba instructor is a very helpful resource to talk to.

It’s possible to catch this Zumba professional at the mall or public venue somewhere. It would be such an occasion to personally witness a Zumba session – and a great experience to actually do it. In Zumba hereabouts, Emma Satchell is queen indeed.

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