The Latin rhythms and exotic dance moves of zumba are the perfect way for Dr Gladys Tam of Mt Druitt Veterinary Clinic in NSW to stay in shape.
“I’ve always liked dancing and learned how to belly dance when I was at uni. Unfortunately, I had to give it up because of a heavy study schedule and unexpected hip pains. About two years ago, I was having a hard day at work and realised I needed something to relax my mind. I had also been fairly free and easy in regard to food and had put on a bit of weight. I really wanted to combine fitness and dance, and zumba came to my mind straight away.
“I booked a lesson and was addicted from the first go. Zumba is basically high-intensity dancing to Latin music. It incorporates salsa, Brazilian samba and other South American dance moves.
“The beautiful thing about zumba is that you don’t have to be perfect. It’s all about sweating it out and having fun. It’s almost like clubbing but without the alcohol and the entry fee.
“Within three months, I was regularly doing classes four times a week but I never felt drained or sore. If anything, I felt more energetic after a class. My cardio had improved dramatically and I had gone down from a size 12 to a size 6. I liked zumba so much that I decided to become an instructor.
“The most basic licence only requires one day of training. They teach you how to communicate with the class and incorporate all the different dance moves. I taught a few classes but soon realised I liked participating in zumba much more than teaching it.
“What I love about zumba is that everyone is smiling and happy. There is a real sense of joy during a class. The music is always upbeat and it feels so good to move to the rhythm. The zumba instructors are very encouraging and make it clear before every class that if you can’t follow the steps, just keep moving. It’s all about having fun.
“After a zumba class, I know I’ve worked out but I’ve also had one hour of time to myself. I often get carried away by the music and picture myself dancing in the streets of Havana or Caracas. When the music stops, I’m always a little let down that I have to return to reality.
“My goal is to visit South America and learn the Brazilian samba. Of course, that would be in addition to zumba. There’s a lady in my class who’s 65 and a really fantastic dancer. Hopefully that’ll be me one day!”