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Zumba: The dance of life

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Zumba: The dance of life

Zumba is growing in popularity with women and men of all ages.

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POSTED July 24, 2012 6:20 p.m.

Zumba is a way of life.

Just ask Sandra Rodriquez, who is a certified instructor of the exercise program that fuses hypnotic Latin rhythms along with easy-to-follow moves.

“It changed my life,” she said following a Monday evening class at California Total Fitness in Manteca. “It changed the way I look and think.”

Rodriquez, 43, has a Zumba tattooed in back of her neck to prove it. She’s been involved in this one-of-a-kind fitness program for the better part of three years, and an instructor for the past two years, teaching at both CTF and the Ripon Athletic Club during that span.

Among her regulars is Charlie Fuentes.

“I enjoy Sandra’s motivation and her dance moves,” said Fuentes, who makes it a point to arrive early to Rodriquez’s Zumba class at CTF in order to save her favorite front-row spot on the workout room. “She’s very knowledgeable and she also plays great music.”

Fuentes has enjoyed the benefits of Zumba.

“It’s been great for the morale,” she said. “You burn a thousand calories and dancing is a love of mine.”

Fuentes is at the point where she’s familiar with the dance routines. Rodriquez incorporates Tambata – she describes this cardiovascular workout as “high-intensity, interval training” – into her classes.

Rodriquez was introduced to Zumba at a low point of her life. She happened into the aerobic fitness program with plenty of Latin American music and body-energizing, awe-inspiring movements.

About a year and a half later, Rodriquez took it to the next step by becoming certified Aerobics and Fitness Association of America.

Zumba, which combines high-energy music with aerobic and dance moves, was founded in the early 1990s by Miami choreographer Beto Perez along with his entrepreneur partners, Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion.

Fuentes and others have noticed the difference in both mind and body.

“It’s a fun workout,” she said following the hour-long session at CFT. “I really get into it that the time goes by so fast.”

Zumba classes are among the most popular at most gyms, CFT and Ripon Athletic Club included.

Rodriquez, who believes in safety-first in all of her classes – she also teaches boot camp and aqua Zumba – will make sure those in her class are doing the steps properly. She does so by keeping a keen eye out to make sure that no one is overdoing the workout or straining parts of their body.

Her corrections are done in a subtle way.

“I look at (working out) in three aspects – cardio, strength, and nutrition,” said Rodriquez, who sticks around before or after each Zumba class to answer any question regarding any one of the three aspects.

In addition, she has a few guys who attend her classes.

“I’ll alter (the steps) to suit them,” Rodriquez said.

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