To Dance or Fly: ZUMBA in Dongguan

To Dance or Fly:


“Ditch the Workout – Join the Party!” That’s the marketing slogan for Zumba fitness, which attracts people with a fun fusion of dance moves from styles like Salsa, Merengue, Reggaeton and Flamenco, and the sort of choreography you might see in a nightclub.

Zumba mythology begins with Colombian trainer Alberto “Beto” Perez. One day in the mid-90s, Beto reportedly forgot to bring his regular aerobics-style music tape to the group exercise class he was leading. With no music and a class to teach, he raced back to his car and found a cassette tape of Latin dance music. Beto drew upon his experience dancing in Salsa clubs and choreographing for local artists. Soon he was leading his pupils through a fun series of dance steps. It was an instant hit, and quickly became the most popular class at his gym. In 1999, Beto brought “Rumbacize” with him when he moved to Miami. It immediately caught on there as well and, with the help of a pair of entrepreneurs, Beto re-branded his class and transformed it to Zumba fitness.

1. Certified instructors lead your class – If they are not certified then it’s not Zumba.
2. Zumba classes are a fun workout in a group setting.
3. The music will make you want to shake your booty – You can burn calories and get fit while enjoying the fun of Latin dancing. It incorporates a lot of interval training within its dance routines.
4. Dynamic Movement – You will be doing some movements that your body has not done before.
5. It might make you a better dancer – Something that would have come in handy for me in my 20s when I frequented clubs and bars.

1. Cardio Focused – Zumba is almost solely focused on cardio. This means that only a small amount of actual muscle will be added. Instead, the program is designed to shed the fat by keeping the body in a constant state of motion.
2. No Weights – If you enjoy lifting weights and building muscle, this program may not be for you either as it does not include the use of weights at all. Instead, the Zumba workout strictly focus on movement.
3. Two left feet – If you have got them, it can be difficult to keep up with the choreography.

0316_health-4Angela Liu heard about Zumba while she was living in New Zealand, but did not try it out there because she had no one to go to class with. When she came back to Dongguan, she met Laura from Feel the Beat @ New World Garden who encouraged her to try it out. When she finally did try the 1 hour class, she lasted for 20 minutes “I couldn’t do it. I was really fat back then.” She explains, “But I still liked it. I loved the music and dancing was something I really wanted to do.”

Angela has gone on from not being able to finish a class to leading her own class within 1 year. “Everyone can do Zumba, there is no right or no wrong. You just move your body and have fun.”
Angela lost a lot of fat thanks to Zumba and this has given her a new outlook on life “I feel energetic, I feel I can do anything I want, and I don’t care what I wear now because I look good and I feel good.”

Does she think she will continue on indefinitely with Zumba? “Yes, it’s too addictive, sorry, I can’t quit!”


0316_health 2

Aerial yoga is a new type of yoga that originates from New York. It makes use of a hammock – that can support up to 300kgs – that holds you off the ground as you perform moves that combine traditional yoga poses, pilates and dance .

The principle behind aerial yoga is to give your body a better workout by counteracting the pull of gravity. Working against gravity helps to reduce the pressure on your bones and muscles caused by sitting on the floor, and this in turn provides greater flexibility. Staying a few inches off the ground also helps to reduce pressure on your body, resulting in straighter shoulders and a longer and leaner spine.

1. You can soar like a bird! Practitioners claim to feel liberated as they stretch and float through the air.
2. It relieves stress – Is your job getting you down? Your boss stressing you out? Aerial yoga’s calming effect may be the thing for you
3. There is a sense of playfulness that traditional yoga lacks – Its founder, Christopher Harrison was an acrobat, and some moves reflect this.
4. Not just good for the mind; it’s good for the body too! Anecdotal evidence indicates that by bending and stretching, muscles and joints will be strengthened and rehabilitated, and the spine decompressedas the body hangs freely.

1. There is a lack of clinical trials to support the effectiveness of yoga in improving general health
2. If you suffer from vertigo, heart disease, extremely high or low blood pressure, glaucoma or severe arthritis this may not be the thing for you
3. If you have a tendency towards dizziness you may not feel comfortable hanging upside down.
4. Not safe if you are pregnant or recovering from surgery

0316_health 3Sharon Liu had been practicing standard yoga and she was offered a trial of Aerial Yoga in a studio downstairs from her apartment. She attended, and from the beginning she enjoyed it “It was a great release from everyday stress. Doing Aerial Yoga felt so comfortable that on the first time I felt asleep!” She explains, but it wasn’t just a snooze fest “I lost 5kgs since I started,” she adds.

Sharon enjoys it so much that she doesn’t think she will stop anytime soon, she says, “I will keep doing it forever. It’s important to keep your body healthy. I find Aerial Yoga interesting and this is a good habit to adopt in life.”