MU rec complex responds to Zumba craze

Thursday, February 19, 2009 | 9:13 p.m. CST; updated 6:27 p.m. CST, Monday, February 23, 2009
Jennifer Manian, who became a certified instructor in August, leads an exercise in Zumba class on Thursday.

COLUMBIA — Zumba is causing a buzz at MU.

Named for a Colombian slang word that means to buzz around like a bee, Zumba is a workout set to a mixture of Latin salsa and merengue music.

Dates and times of Zumba classes

Zumba classes are 45 minutes long and are offered:

Mondays at 2 and 6 p.m.

Tuesdays at 5:15 p.m.

Wednesdays at 5 p.m.

Thursdays at 2:15 and 5:15 p.m.

Sundays at 2 p.m. 

All classes take place in Studio A at the MU rec complex

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Because of its increasing popularity, the MU Student Recreation Complex will host a Zumba training program in March to meet the demand for trained and certified instructors.

Jennifer Books, the fitness coordinator at MU rec complex, said she sees a high demand for more certified Zumba instructors because demand for the class has increased. Last year, four Zumba classes were offered; this year, the MU rec complex has bumped it to seven classes to accommodate the rush of participants.

“Participants love Zumba,” Books said. “Zumba is easy to follow. One simply follows the moves of the instructor.”

Jen Manian, an MU rec complex Zumba instructor who was certified in August, said her personal Zumba training experience was a blast.

“You get to shake what your momma gave ya,” Manian said about why people love Zumba.

Zumba’s simple Latin-inspired movements allow participants to connect to the culture of the dance’s origins.

“Verbal cueing is very limited, if any,” Books said. “This is another reason why Zumba is a great fit at Mizzou Rec: It appeals to the diversity of our population. We may not all speak the same language, but we all can dance.”

The Zumba Basic Instructor Training workshop will be Sunday, March 15, at the MU rec complex.

Zumba education specialists Tony and Jessica Witt will host the workshop. The Witts own Amore Dance Studio in Kansas City and are professionally trained corporate instructors for the Zumba company.

In 2003, they took part in a rigorous two-day training workshop in Miami taught by the creator of Zumba. For 16 to 17 hours a day, the Witts were taught how the dances applied to the exercise and how the steps applied to the music.

The couple has since hosted Zumba training programs in Asia, South America and Canada. “We get to play in the Midwest as well when we are in town,” Tony Witt said.

Because Jessica Witt is pregnant, the couple is unsure if both of them will come to the Columbia workshop next month. Tony Witt said he will host the workshop alone if his wife is not feeling well enough to dance.

Manian said the MU rec complex already has several Zumba instructors but that several non-certified instructors will attend the workshop in March.

Manian already has her Zumba Basics 1 certification, so she doesn’t need to go to the workshop. But she said she plans to attend a more advanced Basics 2 certification workshop in April.

To sign up for the workshop, register online at No prior experience is needed. Early registration is $215 and ends Sunday.

To participate in a Zumba class at the MU rec complex, you must be a member and own a TigerX pass, which can be purchased at the membership desk.

Zumba was created in the mid-1990s by Colombian “Beto” Perez when he arrived to teach an aerobics class without his music and improvised with the tapes he had in his car — Latin salsa and merengue music. The workout has been sweeping the nation since 2002, when it began to gain popularity.

Zumba has been launched in Spanish and introduced in several other countries, including Mexico, Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain.

Books said that Rec Complex staff member Cindy Strine discovered the cultural trend while attending a fitness conference. Zumba has been a regular Rec Complex class for more than a year.



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