Tribune Print Share Text

Catonsville campus catches the Zumba bug

Charlestown residents, staff ditch the workout and join the party

Created date

February 22nd, 2011

It s not your mother s dance class. That s how fitness instructor Joyce Lortz describes the Zumba (pronounced zoom-ba) classes she teaches at Charlestown, an Erickson Living community in Catonsville. Latin-inspired dance moves fused with high- and low-impact cardio exercises are attracting the young and young-at-heart alike to Zumba. I have students age nine all the way up to ninety, says Lortz, who currently teaches 15 classes a week at area fitness facilities, including the one at Charlestown.

Instant attraction

Lortz, who began teaching Zumba three years ago after taking classes at the Jewish Community Center in Park Heights and Owings Mills, left behind her career managing trade shows and now works full-time as a Zumba instructor. Her repertoire features Zumba; Zumba Gold, for the active older population; Zumba Toning, which adds hand-weights for sculpting; Aqua Zumba; and Zumba Kids. We use choreographed dance moves that raise your heart rate and move every part of your body, says Lortz. We incorporate many different rhythms, including cumbia, merengue, salsa, flamenco, cha-cha, and mambo. But you don t have to be a good dancer or a gymnast to do Zumba; it is easy enough for anyone to jump right in. The time flies when you re ' doing it. It s ' really a lot of fun. There s no ' moping in the class. ' Jack Jackson, Charlestown resident Zumba, whose motto is Ditch the workout, join the party, has grown to become the world s largest dance-fitness program, according to the trademark s website More than ten million people in 110 countries are hooked on Zumba since it arrived in Florida in 2001.

More fun than a barrel of monkeys

When retired Baltimore County elementary schoolteacher Jack Jackson heard Zumba was coming to Charlestown, he jumped at the opportunity to get involved. For nearly two years now, Jackson has been taking Lortz s Zumba and Zumba Gold class at Charlestown. I took aerobic classes for about 12 years prior to moving to Charlestown so I was really excited when I heard Zumba classes were coming to the community, says Jackson, who also teaches ballroom dancing at Charlestown. The time flies when you re doing it. It s really a lot of fun. There s no moping in the class. I go in and come out 45 minutes later dripping with sweat. Fellow Charlestown community member Ann Engel was also excited to jump into Zumba. I line dance and I ve always wanted to get involved with aerobic dance, so when I heard about the Zumba class I thought it sounded like fun, says Engel. Joyce is very good and works with you to get the steps. Each class starts off with a gradual warm-up and then builds up to a faster routine, she says. Engel and Jackson participate in both a Zumba Gold glass for Charlestown residents, as well as a faster-paced mixed Zumba class for residents and staff. The regular Zumba class I hold for employees is a much faster-paced class so it takes their fitness to another level. And it is the only fitness class on campus that both employees and residents do together, says Lortz. It s a great workout and I m glad to say I don t have any trouble keeping up with the instructor, says Jackson.

Health shake

Barb Magill, a sales associate at Charlestown, had been searching for a fun way to lose weight, lower her cholesterol, and increase her stamina, aside from the typical treadmill cardio workout, when she discovered Zumba. I had taken other aerobic exercise classes before; however, Zumba is different, says Magill. It s a motivational dance that really makes exercise fun, not boring. There are so many different dance steps and moves that it really works all parts of your body. Although Zumba is now offered on DVD and popular video gaming systems like Nintendo Wii, Lortz believes just like any aerobic dance exercise, Zumba is most beneficial when there s a group dynamic. In a class setting you have the advantage of having a licensed instructor to make sure you re doing the moves correctly and getting the most benefit, says Lortz. There s also the social aspect of it. Every class I teach is like a party filled with a lot of energy and a lot of fun.