Zumba Shimmy

Ninfa Skezas
  • Ninfa Skezas

The Zumba wars broke out at my house the other night.

“Zumba is basically, ‘Here’s my butt, here’s my butt,’” said Cherie, swinging her booty from side to side.

“I love Zumba,” retorted Sophia as she shimmied in reply, “and there’s a lot more hip movement and dance to it than that.”

“Zumba is basically a dance fitness class that combines all different types of music,” offered Ninfa Skezas, owner of Party Fitness Studio in Serra Mesa (619-948-2333, partyzumba.com). “In my opinion, it is one of the best choices for exercising, because we make people feel like they are partying. People don’t go to the gym because it gets boring; people are excited to come to Zumba. We have hip-hop lights and disco balls in the studio. But we’re not just dancing; we’re working every single muscle that you can think of. Yes, I love to shimmy and shake my hips, but I use many different types of movement in my routines.”

Skezas used to drive “almost to Mexico” for Zumba classes; spotting an unfilled niche, she became an instructor. Two years ago, she opened her own studio. “The classes are pretty packed — anywhere from 30 to 60 students,” but reservations are not required, and first-timers can try it out for $8. After that, it’s $10 per 55-minute class, or ten classes for $80.

Skezas, who grew up in South America, prefers to teach her classes to the “exotic rhythms of salsa, merengue, and bachata.” But Alma, director at Queen Bee’s in North Park (619-255-5147, queenbeessd.com) told me that one of her instructors, Rosie, “likes to mix in her own music: a little bit of Top 40, some old-school stuff from the ’60s, or Michael Jackson. She gets students ranging from 12 years old to 80. Her classes run 30 to 40 people, and she leads from up on a stage, so that people in back can see her. Our other instructor, America, uses more of the Latin sound, with a lot of upbeat Mexican and Caribbean mixes.” Alma told me that America’s classes are a bit smaller. Prices for both are $7 for a 60-minute class, or $6 each if you purchase a ten-class card.

Luis De La Rosa at Zumba World San Diego in Skyline (619-825-8149, zumbaworldsandiego.com) also goes heavy to the Latin rhythms, “but not one particular style of dance. It’s all of them put together. And we combine cardio with the dance; you might be doing the merengue from the waist down, but your hands will be doing something like tae bo. It fits the whole population, old and young — there are no rules; you just go in there and let your body flow. It’s not like ballet, and it’s not a routine. Just let the rhythm take you, and eventually, you’ll be doing it. I like to get people loose.” There’s plenty of room to move, as “we have a 4000-square-foot dance floor.” One-hour classes are $5, but a $49 month-to-month membership gets you unlimited classes. “If you can, you should come five days a week.”

At the other end of the scale is Bootique in Mission Hills (619-602-8087, bootiquefitness.com). “We’re a small dance studio,” says owner Jaylin Allen. “Our classes are usually about 20 ladies, and it’s really friendly and open. The ladies will show each other things, and they’ll invite people in and make them comfortable. Clients request the latest pop songs, but we also do traditional merengues and salsas. My personal favorite move is what I call ‘happy feet.’ It’s kind of like when football players move their feet really fast while standing in place. We do that before jumping into another move.”

Allen says, “Zumba is for dancers and nondancers alike, and it works because the number-one rule of fitness is consistency. The only way to stay consistent at anything is to have fun doing it, and Zumba is fun and stress-relieving.” The first class costs $5; after that, it’s $10 for a drop-in, $85 for unlimited monthly classes, or $85 for ten classes anytime over six months.

Allen also holds private classes ($100). “I can come to you, or you can come to the studio. I’ve been doing a lot of bachelorette parties. The events can be customized to higher or lower intensity.”

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