East Texans hooked on Zumba

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Zumba is the latest exercise craze to hit East Texas.  Instructors say it combines Latin and International music with fun and effective workouts.

"You can burn a lot of calories and you don't realize how hard you're working.  It's so much fun and it's addictive," said Yana Ogletree, certified Zumba instructor.  "If you're working really hard you can burn as many as 1,000 calories per one hour workout."

Zumba is attracting attention from women of all ages, men are also joining the craze.  The big draw seems to be the high energy workout you get.  "I have one lady in one of my classes who was told by her cardiologist a couple of months ago that she would have to have a pacemaker put in and she went back to her cardiologist after 2 months with Zumba, not quite 2 months and he told her her pulse rate was up 20 points and right now she didn't need a pacemaker, so he said whatever you're doing you need to keep doing it and that is Zumba," said Ogletree.  Ogletree works out of LiveWell Athletic Club in Lufkin, however, Zumba exercise studios are popping up everywhere.

"Zumba's been around for many years, but it's really just now making its way to East Texas.  It has exploded in the last couple of years and we now have certified Zumba instructors teaching all over East Texas."

Those sold on Zumba will tell you it is a great core workout.  That is, it works the muscles in your pelvis, hips and abdomen.  Ogletree adds it is also good if you want to lose weight or just want to tone your body.

"You see women come in, they barely move and that next class they're moving a little bit more and then they are just like dancing, so anyone can do it and talk about a transformation, you not only lose weight but you feel good about yourself."

"At the end of class we tell success stories.  I have one student who is about 16 or 17 who has lost 50 pounds on the Zumba exercise program.  Another woman in my class called me at work last week in tears to tell me that she had lost 10 pounds.  She has been working so hard and I am so proud of her.  The Zumba classes were just the boost she needed to really motivate her to go forward."

Ogletree points out even athletes have found value in the Zumba classes.  She says another benefit is the mental transition most participants experience.  "It really transforms your attitude.  It's a great mind and body workout.  I've been working out for years.  I also run, but Zumba by far is the most fun and most effective workout that I've done."

A deep core workout, all done to the rhythm of the beat.  "A lot of people may be scared to try Zumba because you think 'OK I'm not coordinated.  I can't dance very well,' but you go to a live class and everybody's doing it and before you know it you're dancing too," said Ogletree.

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