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Andrea Pawsey  in London, England
Zumba Fitness ®  on 2013-03-01

Zumba, More than a Dance Craze, a Way of Life

Here is the story of how Latino parties have taken over the world!…well, on the side of a fitness frenzy that is!

Those of you who, like me, have lived in London for at least 20 years will have noticed a rapid change in the multi-cultural evolution at the heart of one of most influential capitals in Europe. We have witnessed how it has shared, understood and accepted the diversity of ethnicity that populates the city. We are now used to walking down streets full of restaurants offering an array of international cuisine, hearing a multitude of foreign languages being spoken down our streets, seeing  clubs promoting ‘Latino nights’ with promises of reviving your own ‘dirty-dancing’ scene… it all seems to be a great effort by each community to make their adopted city feel like home. By that I mean, my home town, or any other Latin American town, wherever that might be.

We all dressed up for carnivals, shouted out our culture with pride, and more recently, instead of trying to master a flawless English pronunciation, we make the most of our thick Latin accents to break through… thanks to all the positive publicity that everything “Latino” has managed to showcase on billboards around the world

And here I am, walking to work in central London, blending in with the mass of commuters, all wired up to their music players and depending on their phones as if they were life-support machines… and so, I am a part of this, listening to Adele, doing my own British thing as I have been here long enough to absorb the London way of life.

I have to be honest and say I have never been a sporty person, a fitness fanatic or a gym goer, but if you ask me to dance I will be the first one pulling towards the dance floor. All that said, yes, I do have a gym membership, the one you feel compelled to take out after a guilty indulgence during Christmas and the pressures from your colleagues to make New Year resolutions and – of course - the amazing 5% discount for a corporate package. So, a couple of years ago,on a fateful August 2008 afternoon, making the most of my overpriced monthly fee, I headed out of the changing rooms in search of a lonely running machine, hoping that no one could see me gasping for air after only five minutes jogging. I was then puzzled by the noise and commotion coming out of studio A… I ask myself in disbelief: since when has a cumbia song become an aerobics track?! Yes, I heard right. I approached the door’s tiny window… what are these people doing?! Staring at them, many questions started exploding throughout my mind,like pop-up advertisements on a website.

None of the participants looked Latin-American but they swung their hips just the same way that we do at our house parties, all drenched in sweat, exhausted but smiling from ear to ear. Whatever that was, I wanted to take part and I mentally committed while I was reading the gym’s timetable at reception as I booked my next class.

I spent some time researching and finding out what these new classes were all about… ‘ Zumba: Latin-inspired, easy-to-follow, calorie-burning dance fitness party, created by Beto (Alberto) Perez, Colombian-born fitness trainer based in Miami’… this was just genius to me… a programme made for people like me who don’t count lunges, don’t appreciate being shouted at military-style to try harder, and who love to dance regardless of difficulty levels, rhythms and the must-have-a-partner rule. Best of all, it didn’t require any experience or fitness level and had no weight limitation.

Zumba is adrenaline-high. You feel it from the music itself, from the challenge of co-ordinating your limbs with the moves and the way this fun memory game stimulates your brain as you try to remember the sequence of the steps. This is what you learn as you train physically and mentally while endorphins pump through your bloodstream. A one-hour class feels a bit too short.

Nowadays I am a fully-qualified Zumba with a sizeable group of follower attending my classes daily - I cannot describe the many ways you are rewarded once each student’s Zumba classes become a weekly ritual.

Yes! And at the risk of sounding like under-budget infomercial, I can proudly say that Zumba has changed my life. I dropped 15 kilos in less than a year in a healthy and steady way, became fitter, happier, wiser and best of all, more confident. Most of all, I am grateful to myself for taking the right direction to a better me; that without mentioning the endless appraisals and loyalty from my class participants just for being me and doing what I love.

No diet in the world can guarantee me happiness in the long run; there is no better result than seeing yourself looking your best, feeling your best and being passionate about something that only depends on your will power.

In the last 10 years, Zumba has become a worldwide movement and a democratic activity. Not only has it changed the lives of many self-conscious, physically or mentally challenged people around the globe, but it has also helped raise international awareness of diseases that affect people’s quality of life through major events supporting cancer research, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and many more illnesses. Zumba achieved this by always keeping and being true to its Latino base and world-flavoured formula.

Now my country (Colombia) is known not just for its rich culture  and accomplished people but also the positive perception and relation that any nationality now makes between Zumba and Latin stereotypes. This has made us all, Latinos and non-latinos, feel like one, equal, talented society.

Now it is not just Latin Americans wanting to keep their traditions alive and long-lasting through generations born in a distant land. Somehow we have managed to make other nationalities eager to adopt our positive, friendly and optimistic philosophy that has no relation to drinking Bacardi, late club dancing and ball-kicking sports. They want to move like us, and make of this a refreshing and engaging experience.
If you are interested in finding more, being part of a class or simply want to exchange opinions, please contact me through my web page:

Andrea's classes are run at Maloca Health & Fitness Ltd. Specialist in Latin-american fitness at the heart of London. (Please visit for more information)
All classes are walk-in, £7 fee, no booking required. Loyalty cards are available too.
Timetable: Thursdays at 7pm, Saturdays at 9.30am & Sundays 9am
Maloca, 10 point pleasant, London SW18 1GG.
Hope to meet you in person soon!!

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