You can literally feel the energy radiating from Marlon Davis as she teaches a Zumba class.

Luckily, it’s contagious. It would be difficult to participate in one of her classes and not feel energized, with a big smile on your face when you leave the room.

Zumba is essentially a work-out party or, as Davis explains, “exercise in disguise”. The essence is a Latin-inspired dance-fitness program that blends red-hot international music and contagious steps to form a “fitness-party”.

“It is downright addictive,” laughs Davis. “I would know, because I am!”

A typical class takes international rhythms and steps and puts them together for an hour of fun—you don’t even realize when the hour is up.

Since its inception in 2001, the Zumba program has grown to become the world’s largest—and perhaps most successful—dance-fitness program, with more than 12,000,000 people of all shapes, sizes and ages taking weekly Zumba classes in over 110,000 locations across more than 125 countries.

“Every Zumba teacher is different, but I like big energy, excitement and, most importantly, great music. It will be a high-cardio, sweat-shakin’ session,” Davis says.

“The first session can be a more of a mental workout, since all the moves are new, but it will be easy-to-follow,” she explains.

“The songs don’t change frequently throughout a session of workouts, so you will get a handle on the songs pretty quick and soon you will know them off by heart and can just enjoy grooving and increasingly the depth of each move.”

It was Davis’s dance experience that originally drew her towards Zumba.

“I like big energy, excitement and… great music.” Credit: PHOTO: Tyler Kuhn

“I used to dance salsa a lot. It was so much fun. I would dance with old and young people from different cultures around the world, and by the end of an evening out I would be drenched in sweat.

“I never focused on calories burned, but there was no doubt it was a great way to keep fit,” she says.

“I went to a Zumba class in Edmonton with a fantastic teacher and was inspired by her, the other participants and, above all, the music. I thought it was such a great idea—to blend Latin rhythms and step with a fitness class concept.”

Davis says she knew right awat she would love teaching Zumba.

“I was excited that women who maybe didn’t feel comfortable going out to a club, and others who just wanted more opportunity to dance and stay fit throughout the week, could find camaraderie and fun” in a Zumba class.

“How often is it that you have a smile on your face for a whole one-hour workout?”

For Davis, the best part of the program is the social element.

“Although the participants rarely speak to each other during songs, there is a lot of hooting and hollering going on and you really get a sense of shared exhilaration and excitement about the music and the movement,” Davis says.

“Zumba is meant to be shared. I moved to Whitehorse not knowing anyone and Zumba was the reason I was able to meet so many incredible people so fast—they all came to my Zumba class.”

Davis attributes Zumba’s ever-expanding popularity in the Yukon to the escape it provides, especially in the winter.

“It’s kind of like a cheaper and shorter tropical vacation. We get hot and sweaty and listen to music from sunny destinations.”

Moving forward, Davis hopes to continually improve the accessibility of her programs.

“I hope to offer more Zumba Gold classes. Zumba Gold is for the older-active adult or those who are recovering from injuries. It takes out some of the high-impact moves and simplifies some of the complex rhythms,” she explains.

“It’s still the same big energy, but makes it possible for everyone to participate. I’ve also learned how to offer Zumba to those who may not have complete mobility or are confined to a wheelchair. It’s that versatile,” she adds.

“I would love to offer Zumba in the Park in the hot summer months outside, so that anyone can join in at lunch. That will really bring the tropics to the North!”

You can find out about more about Zumba, including finding a class to try it out for yourself, by joining the Facebook group, Whitehorse Zumba Party, or by visiting www.yukonzumba.com.

Amber Church is a painter, writer and sports enthusiast. You can reach her at sports@whatsupyukon.com

Amber Church is a painter, writer and sports enthusiast. You can reach her at sports@whatsupyukon.com.