Zumba event aims for smiles and breast health

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It sounds like a zombie attack but it’s really more of a dance/fitness craze that is taking aerobics rooms by storm. Tomorrow, Zumbathon will land at the Enjoy Centre and organizers are hoping to have a few hundred enthusiastic exercisers grooving and smiling, all in the name of breast cancer research.

Groovin’ for the Cure is the name of the event, organized by Lorena Barretta. Even though the activity is growing rapidly in popularity, there are still many people who have no idea what zumba is, she said.

“It is a Latin and international music-based dance program,” she explained. “They need to follow the moves and there’s no right way or wrong way to zumba. It’s just pretty much get out there, feel the music, and move, and sweat, and burn calories.”

Zumba’s history traces back to Colombia in the late 1990s. Aerobics instructor Alberta ‘Beto’ Perez started improvising movements and routines based on his own mixed tapes and he found that the class became incredibly popular.

Zumba involves elements of aerobics and dance using choreography that incorporates hip-hop, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, reggae, martial arts, Bollywood and belly dance moves, with a few traditional squats and lunges as well.

Barretta also promised that it’s an appropriate activity for people of any fitness level. This is especially so, she added, because this special event is meant to boost the coffers at the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation through its CIBC Run for the Cure event.

According to the foundation’s website at www.cbcf.org, the 25-year-old agency works to fund, support and advocate for research, education and awareness programs, early diagnosis and effective treatment, and in general provide a positive quality of life for those living with breast cancer.

Its statistics indicate that more than 23,000 women and almost 200 men were diagnosed with breast cancer in Canada last year, and that figure keeps rising every year. On average, 445 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer every week.

Last year, 5,300 women and 50 men succumbed to the disease.

Barretta has participated in the CIBC Run for the Cure for several years now. She wanted to take an extra step to help out so she created the zumba event. The event makes sense since the core of the zumba audience is made up of women, and that’s who is most affected by breast cancer, she said.

“There are male participants but it’s very attractive to women,” she said. “They like to come and let loose for an hour and burn calories in a fun way.”

She held the first one last year which had approximately 230 people dancing and raised more than $9,000. So far there are more than 200 people signed up for this 90-minute session, but she’s hoping for more people than last year.

“I know far too many people who have been affected by breast cancer and, quite frankly, I’m tired of it,” she said.

The event takes place Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. Participation costs $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Organizers request that participants wear workout clothes and runners, preferably in pink.

There will be face and body painting, a live DJ and singer, plus an appearance from the Edmonton Eskimos Cheer Team. Door prizes will also be handed out.

The Enjoy Centre is located at 101 Riel Drive.

For more information, to purchase tickets or to donate, visit www.zumba-ren.com.

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Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.