Reflecting our commitment to promoting wellness and healthy living, every month, Civilian Global News will feature new ways to exercise and have fun. This month’s feature is Daisy Miller. Daisy is a Zumba instructor at Louisiana State University’s Group X program, which features a smorgasbord of free fitness classes for members of the LSU community. CGN’s fitness and wellness columnist, Elise Watness, interviews Daisy on her Zumba classes and how it is helping students achieve healthier bodies and higher levels of confidence.
EW: Where did Zumba come from, and how did it blow up in popularity?
DM: Zumba Fitness was created by Beto Perez in Columbia. He was an aerobics instructor and one day forgot his music so he improvised and played his salsa and merengue tape. Zumba Fitness was founded in 2001 but really took off around 2010. People wanted to try a fun and alternative way to work out.
EW: What is a typical class like? Are there any common favorite parts?
DM: A typical Zumba class should use 70% Latin music which leaves the remaining 30% up to the instructor. I choose to use the 30% for hip-hop songs because that is what the participants favor.
That being said, the hip-hop and reggaton dances are definitely the class favorites.
EW: What could somebody who hasn’t done Zumba before, expect from their first few classes?
DM: First timers should not be scared to try it! I’m not a trained dancer, so I really try to choreograph my dances as easy as possible so all levels can follow. They are easy to follow but at the same time challenging enough so you will get a great workout in.
EW: What are the physical benefits unique to Zumba? How much does it matter if the moves aren’t followed exactly?
DM: I always tell my students that if they’re moving, they’re doing it right! In my opinion, some instructors teach too much fancy choreography which leaves the students confused and doesn’t result in much of a workout. I’ve had students who have worn calorie counters to my classes and burned 900-1400 calories. I am confident that if you go close to moving 100%, you will burn well over 1,000 calories.
EW: How do you see Zumba participants evolve with continued dedication?
DM: I have very loyal participants who have been with me since day 1 and have not missed a singe class. It’s truly amazing to see them evolve both physically and mentally. One student in particular stands out to me who was incredibly shy when she first started. Now she exudes confidence as she dances in the front row like a pro.
EW: How has your own physical health and confidence evolved while doing Zumba?
DM: Physically, I’m about 13 pounds lighter now than I was before I started teaching. I’ve been playing sports my whole life and I thought I was in shape then! Additionally, I’ve become more self-confident throughout my years of teaching and I have dance fitness to thank for that.
EW: How many types of Zumba exist? What is your favorite part about teaching it?
DM: They’ve started to come out with some new types of Zumba Fitness recently.
The latest phenomena is Zumba Sentao, which involves using a chair. I’ve yet to try it but it sounds like a killer! They also have Aqua Zumba, Zumba Gold for older participants, and Zumbatomic for kids.
My favorite part about teaching Zumba and dance fitness would have to be the impact it has on participants. A lot of people come after a rough day at work or school and just let loose and blow off steam. Seeing these participants radiate positive energy leaving my class really makes me love my job.
EW: How do you encourage those of us who don’t yet feel bootylicious like Beyoncé or can’t shake our hips like Shakira?
DM: It is SO not a problem if someone doesn’t have any experience but wants to try my class. The moves are easy to follow and each time they come, the easier it gets and the more they look like Beyoncé and Shakira in the mirror!