Moves in the right fitness direction
Maria Gloria Camilleri and Pedro Fernandez Alvarez celebrate the health benefits of Zumba Fitness.
Keeping fit is normally hard on the body and mind – but not with Zumba. Zumba Fitness is an exhilarating, Latin-inspired dance fitness workout which feels like a party. It took the US by storm back in 2001 and since then, it has grown to become the world’s largest dance fitness programme.
Fitness instructors Maria Gloria Camilleri and Pedro Fernandez Alvarez introduced it to Malta almost three years ago. Both Maria and Pedro are certified and official Zumba Fitness instructors as well as AFAA certified fitness instructors. Maria is a physical education teacher and has been dancing for over 23 years. Pedro was born and grew up in Spain to the rhythms of Latin music. He has a vast background in fitness, martial arts, music and dance and regularly judges national and international boxing and kickboxing competitions.
So how did they decide to bring Zumba Fitness to Malta?
“We found that our common love for dance and music, our vast experience, our background in the fitness industry and of course Pedro’s Spanish background, all fitted perfectly in the Zumba Fitness programme,” Maria and Pedro say. “Through Zumba, we can excel by giving to others what we love doing best – creating every day the best fitness party in Malta.”
Maria and Pedro are also a couple. Pedro came to Malta because of other work commitments and met Maria through one of their common passions – salsa dancing.
“We met, danced and kept in touch – the rest is history,” they say.
Until a few years ago, no one knew what Zumba Fitness was. Yet since Maria and Pedro first introduced it in Malta, it has taken the island by storm. What makes it so popular?
“In these last three years we have created much awareness about the fact that a fitness workout can be fun too. Zumba feels like a party. Moreover, it is for all ages and all fitness levels,” Maria and Pedro say.
“Zumba also creates a strong sense of community – for many, the class is a social event to meet people, have fun together and enjoy some quality me-time.
“People enjoy our classes because they are a show on their own – we interact with people, make them laugh, and help them bond and forget their problems for an hour. All in all, we make people happy.
“We are so delighted that since we kicked off we have managed to persuade so many Maltese to move, making them happy and guiding them to adopt a healthier lifestyle through our classes.”
Zumba is so much fun because it is inspired by dance.
“Zumba is a Latin-dance inspired fitness workout. However it incorporates easy dance moves and the flair from all the different music styles we use. There is a lot of hip and bum shaking, shoulder shimmying, shouting, singing, hair-flicking and hand-clapping – it’s definitely not a regular group fitness class,” Maria and Pedro say.
What’s also so attractive about Zumba Fitness is that anyone can do it.
“Zumba is good for everyone. We have four generations doing our workouts with us, from great-grandmothers to great-grand daughters. Everyone can do it at their own intensity, making it fun and effective for everyone. A background in dance is not required, though one will learn great dance moves, increase coordination and also confidence.
“Of course, if participants already have a dance background, they can incorporate their own personal dance flair and enjoy new rhythms and different dance styles – all this while getting a full-body fitness workout.”
The health benefits of Zumba are many as it involves every muscle of the body, with particular attention to hips and abdominals. Thighs and butt also get a good exercise and participants also build up their flexibility.
“Zumba classes are choreographed to provide the participants with intervals that offer maximum fat burning benefits, clearly improving also cardiovascular health. Apart from weight loss, it also improves coordination,” Maria and Pedro say. “Moreover, the endorphin release lifts participants’ moods and leaves them with a sense of euphoria.”
Fun is a key element in Zumba Fitness.
“When participants see a Zumba class in action, they can’t wait to give it a try. Before they know it, they’re getting fit and their energy levels are soaring. It’s easy to do, effective and totally exhilarating. Fun is the most important element in our Zumba class – as long as our participants have lots of fun and are moving for an hour, than everything else comes second.”