Today is really two posts' worth, so I will devote this first one to the Big Deal of the week, the debut of Aqua Zumba. Those of you not up on the latest trends in exercise may not know that it is one of the hottest and fastest growing group exercise formats in the world. For a taste of it, go to the web site. I'll wait quietly here till you get back. Zumba was started by a poor Colombian kid, Alberto "Beto" Perez, who stumbled on to the use of latin music in group aerobics classes he taught. He is now the charismatic head of an empire that is covering the planet with hip-shaking happy exercisers. Seriously. The Zumba big cheeses just got back from setting up in China. And the next trip is to Turkey. Turkey!
So it is a big deal that Zumba has been adapted for the water and that its introduction to the world was here at the AEA convention. And a big deal that Beto himself was here to lead the first few classes. That's him in the eye shade and no shirt. Lots of people besides me were taking his picture.
I took photos of an earlier class than mine so I could just enjoy my own. It was indeed fun and fast-paced, made use of some familiar water movements among the latin dance steps and some moves that Beto made up himself. I would have enjoyed the class more if the water had not been so crowded. I got trapped between an ancient guy in a wide hat in front of me and a pool wall behind. Couldn't see all the time and couldn't travel much what with the wall and Father Time moving consistently in the wrong direction.
An earlier dry land lecture session introduced us to the "Zumba Team" and filled in the organizational details of Aqua Zumba instruction. To be an instructor, you must first get certified in one of the land forms--Basic Zumba or Zumba Gold (the version for seniors, the deconditioned, and the obese. Their words, not mine.) You learn to identify and choreograph the 8 rhythms: salsa, merengue, cumbia, reggaeton, belly dance, tango, flamenco, and samba. Then you train for the water. The training teaches you the basic framework and how to choreograph for each rhythm. After that, the individual instructor puts their own creativity into it. Most instructors belong to the Zumba Instructor Network (ZIN). Membership is voluntary, but most belong because it is the source for new music and moves, as well as continuing education workshops. They are setting up a system for credit for AEA CEUs.
So why are these people smiling?
Because deep under the water their hips are shimmying like mad. Zumba!