Zumba craze kicks off in area

PARKERSBURG – The Zumba craze is sweeping the nation.

Zumba was launched by fitness instructor Alberto “Beto” Perez in the mid-1990s by accident. Perez forgot his usual aerobic music and instead taught his class in Miami using a mix of the music he grew up with, salsa and merengue.

Toni Holbrook opened the Brickhouse Cardio Club with her husband, Darrell Holbrook, after she and her daughter, Tiffanee Rice, fell in love with the workout. Holbrook said it took about four classes to catch on to the dance, but she finally understood her daughter’s immediate passion for the cardiovascular workout.

“I looked (Zumba) up online,” Rice said after the craze took off in popularity. “I had just had a kid, my husband pushed me to go and I begged my mom to go with me.”

A short time after being exposed to Zumba, the mother-daughter team became certified Zumba instructors.

To teach Zumba, an instructor as to be certified in group fitness, have CPR certification, Aerobics and Fitness Association of America certification and take continuing education classes.

Between the two, Rice and Holbrook were teaching in five different locations and offering over 10 classes a week. Rice said she originally went to Washington, D.C., to take the introduction to Zumba class and become certified in teaching the dance.

Since opening in May 2011, Holbrook said she has seen several hundreds of new customers. She said the stack of mandatory release forms signed by exercising clients is getting thick.

The pair said they were out-of-shape and over-weight when they began taking Zumba, but are now happier than every – even after Rice has had four children.

“I dropped about 20 pounds and it got rid of lower back and knee pain,” she said.

Since the trend has gained more popularity, there are now conventions and training sessions close by. Rice said the pair have been to Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio and potentially plan to visit Pennsylvania to train and continue their education.

Holbrook also is an adjunct professor for Ohio Valley University and teaches students who can come to her gym for physical education courses.

Brickhouse Cardio Club is a franchise so the Zumba instructors must comply with some rules and regulations. The color scheme, layout and flooring of the building are controlled by the company. The owners do have control over the location and color of the dressing rooms, they said.

When a Zumba instructor becomes affiliated with the group, they are part of the Zumba Instructor Network, Holbrook said. ZIN instructors are sent DVDs and corresponding CDs as part of keeping the fitness routine fresh and new. The pair said it is sometimes difficult when going to another Zumba class or a Zumba convention and seeing different dance moves to the same songs. However, that’s the great thing about Zumba, it doesn’t cater to one need.

“During a routine we may point out modifications if we see someone struggling,” Holbrook said. “A beginner can really come into any class they’re curious about.”

Carisa Smith, of Vienna, said she has been involved in Zumba since September 2011.

“It doesn’t feel like a work-out,” she said of the dance craze. “(Zumba) changed my life.”

Smith said she has lost 45 pounds since starting the work-out a few years ago. She attends about six classes a week and is able to bring her children, 4 and 9-years old with her while she works out. She said the play area at Brickhouse Cardio Club is an important part of why she chose their studio to join.

People can sign up for a monthly membership fee that includes unlimited classes and a one-year agreement. Or pay per class fee. The company does have a family membership package. The first class someone attends is more of an all-day pass and is free of charge, Holbrook said.

The club also offers “Turbo Kick” and “PiYo Strength” classes Monday, Thursday and Friday evenings and Saturday mornings.

The store will be expanding their hours and adding more classes in March, Holbrook said.

Darrell Holbrook, part owner of the club, said he lost 20 pounds within three months of trying the Turbo Kick, a workout offered at the club. He now teaches the classes, he said, another 55 pounds lighter.

Geneva DeBord has seven grandchildren to constantly keep up with, and she said Zumba helps allow her to to do so.

“I have a higher energy level,” she said after getting in shape with the fitness trend.

Pam Salvage, of Parkersburg, said she fits right in with Zumba because she loves to dance. She enjoys Turbo Kick because she thinks it’s a harder workout than Zumba but still fun, she added.