Vicky meets'¦ Louise Simons, Zumba instructor and dance teacher

A dance craze that remains popular, Zumba was actually the result of a happy accident.


“About fifteen years ago in Miami, Beto Perez turned up to teach his normal aerobics class but had forgotten his music,” explained Louise, who teaches Zumba in Bognor Regis. “All he had with him was a cassette tape of Latin beats, rhythms and salsas, so he literally improvised the class. Everybody loved it and he spotted a gap in the market.”

Telling me how Beto arrived at the name by playing with the word ‘rumba,’ substituting every letter of alphabet with the ‘r’ until he got to Z, Louise said:

“It took a while for Zumba to cross the pond, but when it did I went to a class and loved it. I have been working as a dance teacher and choreographer for the last fifteen years, but I was very excited to add Zumba to my qualifications.”

Graduating from Doreen Bird’s College of Performing Arts in 1994, Louise danced professionally, including spending ten years at sea with Princess Cruises. The perfect way to see the world and save money, she didn’t, however, expect to find love into the bargain.

“I met my husband who is a musician on the ship in 2002. It was a bit of a whirlwind romance and we married in 2003 and came to what we Land Life.”

Considering returning to work after having two children, when she experienced her first Zumba lesson Louise knew exactly what her next career move would be.

“I’ve been teaching Zumba for five years now. The joy is that you can teach all ages and abilities in one class; you can adapt it as you need. I have older people and people with bad knees or shoulders, for instance.

“I get a lot of mums and daughters coming along together and we welcome well-behaved children from the age of ten, so it is family friendly too.”

Great for all round fitness, Louise says that while Zumba is mainly cardiovascular, you do use the whole of your body.

“It’s sort of fun exercise in disguise. People love the music as well as the dancing – it’s a party atmosphere,” she chuckled.

Talking of party atmospheres, there’s one class that actually IS a party.

“Friday is Clubbercise and it’s so fun! 80s and 90s music, it’s raving in the dark with glow sticks! Being in the dark takes away that anxiety for people who are body conscious, so it’s not intimidating,” she reassured me, as I confessed to suffering from Lycra Phobia.

“With Zumba the moves repeat a lot so you get the hang of it quickly,” she insisted.

Louise’s exuberance and enthusiasm is contagious. And I admit that those Latin beats do stir even my rhythmically challenged stumps…

Care to grab a glow stick and join me?

Classes are held at Holy Cross Hall, North Bersted, just opposite the Pink Pub.

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