Zumba for the younger

It’s wild, it’s addictive and it’s
great fun – and now the craze for Zumba dance exercise is hitting the younger

Dance teacher Jackie Balls of Miss
Jackie’s School of Dance has launched Zumba classes for children and she’s
hoping that the exercise, which combines dance movements with energetic Latin
beats, will entice children with weight problems to have a go.

“I’m trying to reach those kids who
have weight issues and who don’t enjoy exercise, but who really need to do
some,” she said. “It’s a shame that so many children don’t exercise and do
nothing but sit around and watch TV. That leads to all sorts of health problems.”

She has started half-hour Zumba
classes for children and is offering the first class free so youngsters could
try out the fitness dance class for themselves and see if they like it before
signing up for anymore classes.

Zumba involves easy-to-follow moves
borrowed from salsa, rumba, cha cha and other dances, accompanied by lively
music and in most cases, lots of smiles.

As she leads a class in the
Latin-inspired dance moves, Miss Jackie urges the kids “Smile, smile, come on.”

Adults on Island were introduced to
Zumba last year and classes are offered for adults at Miss Jackie’s and at
World Gym weekly.

Miss Jackie said she hopes that
children who are overweight will feel comfortable enough to dance at her
studio, especially those kids who are not confident about running a playground
or a field at school in front of schoolmates.

“I want to try to reach those
inactive kids. I want to get them moving,” she said. “Any prospective students
can come and try it out for free.”

She said that her classes would
involve warm-up and cool-down exercises as well. “Classes that last just half
an hour is fine for those kids who are starting out and who have been
inactive,” she said.

Miss Jackie said one of the best
things about Zumba is that every class is different and the children won’t get

“You don’t have to know what you’re
doing, you just follow the instructor and do some simple dance steps to music,”
she said.

Zumba was developed by celebrity
fitness trainer Alberto “Beto” Perez in Colombia in the 1990s. He brought the
classes to America and Zumba was popularised through informercials, resulting
in thousands of Zumba dance instructors being trained.

The dance routines
burn fat and tone the body and can be done by anyone.

Local Story

Miss Jackie leads her young class through some Zumba moves.
Photo: Norma Connolly

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