Nothing applies directly to my life quite like the wisdom of the ancient Latin saying "mens sana in corpore sano" or "sound mind in a healthy body". I would lie if I said that I did not care about my body image, but more than just keeping the poundage at bay, exercise for me is a way of managing my stress levels.
As a kid I was not particularly directed towards sports even if my dad was an athlete and a physical education teacher. He used to say that I was an anti-talent for sport. Later in life I realized that this had little to do with me, and more to do with the Balkan culture of encouraging athleticism only in those with Olympian ambitions. Sport as a means of simply maintaining a healthy lifestyle was not employed.
As a result, it is only after I came to Canada that I discovered fitness for the masses. Over time, I have engaged in many forms of exercise. For a period I loved step aerobics, then I moved on TAE BO (and kick boxing). I trained and ran a half-marathon. And then I discovered Zumba.
Zumba is a Latin dance-inspired fitness program created by dancer and choreographer Alberto "Beto" Perez in Colombia during the 1990s. The story has it that Beto was an aerobics teacher when he forgot to bring the music to one of his classes. Forced to improvise, Beto used one of his Latin music tapes and incorporated various Latin dance moves into his routine. People loved it, he developed the whole concept, Oprah heard about it, and as with all things that Oprah endorses, Zumba exploded globally.
The thing I love about Zumba is that you get an incredible work out without feeling like you are working out. Rather, it is like a dance party. The Latin sounds and moves are so uplifting they are bound, not only to lift your butt, but also your mood.
One thing that has to be said though, is the importance of having a quality teacher. So, if you live in Montreal, and are interested in Zumba I strongly suggest you check out Bamboofit. Bambofit was founded by two talented young women, Laura and Lina Barreto. Originally from Colombia, the two sisters have danced their whole life. So it comes as no surprise that they were the first to bring Zumba to Montreal. Bamboofit offers daily classes inside Cat's Corner Dance Studio on 3451 St Laurent Blvd, and Chinese Community Center on 1088 Clark St. The membership is very flexible and transferable so that you can share it with a friend. These days they have a promotion (pay for 15 classes get 20).
If you are looking to work out and also have a great time I strongly suggest you give Zumba and Bamboofit a try.