Zumba, three ways

I just returned from Naples, Florida, where I took Zumba classes taught by Casta Melendez. Casta is a ballroom dancer from Venezuela, and I continue to think that her Zumba classes are the most fun you can have while working out. She had several new routines, and the usual exuberant classroom. If you like salsa, cumbia, tango, etc., these are the classes to take.

In January, I finally broke down and joined a fancy gym in Seattle so I could take Zumba from one of the city’s master teachers, Daniel Nery Dos Santos Filho. Daniel is a capoeira (Brazilian martial arts) instructor, and his class can get extremely athletic (although you can modify to any level of workout). His choices of music include Afro-pop and Latin beats, and the classes are fluid and highly entertaining. I burn about 600 calories in one of Daniel’s classes, and was surprised to see that I  burned only 400 at Casta’s session. Both Daniel and Casta teach classes with participants of all ages and ethnicities.

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Cesar Molina

When I’m on the road, or can’t get to my Seattle class for some reason, I do Zumba using the You Tube videos put up by Cesar Molina, who teaches in Chile. It’s my dream to travel to Chile to study with Cesar for a week. His classes are highly dance-oriented, closer to Casta’s approach, and more youth-oriented, with some hip-hop routines as well as lots of easy-going bachata routines. I love an older video Cesar put up some years ago that uses Prince Royce’s version of “Stand By Me.” If you aren’t familiar with Zumba, this is a good routine to start with.

By the way, the hottest tune on the Zumba circuit at the moment is “Vacaciones” by Wisin (the link is to Cesar’s video; the actual music video is…unappealing). All three of my teachers are using “Vacaciones” — each with different choreography, which is scrambling my brain. I have to say, Daniel’s choreography is the best!

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