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Rob Potter | Democrat

Zumba Education Specialist instructor Ali Ramirez, left, demonstrates a Zumba step for a group of instructors during Saturday’s Zumba Gold class at the Liberty Fitness Center.

Going for the
(Zumba) gold

By Rob Potter
LIBERTY — February 26, 2010 — Last weekend, the Liberty Fitness Center hosted a Zumba Gold training program.
Nearly 100 Zumba instructors from around the nation attended the training workshops taught by Ali Ramirez, who is one of 70 Zumba Education Specialist (ZES) instructors in the U.S.
On Saturday, Ramirez taught 46 instructors the steps and moves for the Zumba Gold program. Then on Sunday, she guided 51 instructors in Zumbatomic, a fitness program for children ages 4 to 12.
Zumba is an officially registered and licensed fitness program which combines Latin dance music with exercises to provide a fat-burning, body sculpting workout.
Ramirez, who lived on Long Island before moving to the state of Florida at the age of 12, explained that the Zumba program was created by Alberto “Beto” Perez in his hometown of Cali, Columbia in the mid-1990s. Ramirez noted that Perez, an aerobics instructor, was about to begin teaching a class when he realized he had forgotten music to accompany the workout session. He went to his car and grabbed some cassettes which featured Latin music. He taught the class, combining elements of Latin dance moves with the fitness exercises.
The class was very well-received and a few years later Perez and two friends, Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion, created the Zumba program. They released a DVD in 2001 which helped Zumba become even more popular.
“There were 120 Zumba instructors in May 2003, today there are over 50,000 worldwide,” Ramirez said.
In May 2003, Ramirez became a certified Zumba instructor. She became a ZES in March 2006.
Ramirez, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and her husband, Charly, regularly travel around the U.S. to guide Zumba instructors in the Zumba Gold and Zumbatomic programs.
In Saturday’s session, Ramirez demonstrated several dance steps and fitness moves as the roomful of instructors followed along. The instructors paused to take notes in their Zumba Gold booklets which detailed the steps to dances such as the merengue, salsa and tango.
“Zumba brought the fitness world together with the dance world,” Ramirez said to the dozens of instructors standing in front of her.
She told them that 70 percent of the Zumba class features Latin and international music.
“But the other 30 percent can be whatever music you want,” Ramirez said.
One of the instructors taking Saturday’s class was Eleanor Nash. She now lives in Hollywood, Fla., but is very familiar with Sullivan County as she was a district representative for former U.S. Congressman Matt McHugh and served as the chief of staff for U.S. Congressman Maurice Hinchey.
Nash often teaches Zumba to senior citizens in The Sunshine State.
“Zumba Gold is perfect for seniors,” she said.
Two of the instructors in Saturday’s session, Tatjana Dyreholt and Majbritt Lock, live in Slagelse, Denmark. Dyreholt had been visiting the U.S. since Feb. 11 and Lock was vacationing in the Dominican Republic before coming to Sullivan County to surprise her good friend Dyreholt by taking the Zumba Gold class with Ramirez.
In addition to being a Zumba instructor, Dyreholt is a physical trainer and massage therapist. She has taught Zumba classes in her native Denmark as well as Belgium and Germany.
Lock is a dancer and Pilates instructor.
They both enjoyed taking the class.
“I am learning more about Zumba,” Dyreholt said.
“I can do this, it’s fun,” Lock said with a smile.
Cindy Fracasse, who is the owner of the Liberty Fitness Center, was also enjoying Saturday’s workshop. She was one of the instructors enhancing their knowledge of Zumba.
“Look what we did,” Fracasse said. “This is great for our county. These Zumba instructors are coming here from all over the country. They are staying in local bed and breakfast places and eating in our restaurants.
“I’m happy to have these Zumba classes here at the fitness center this weekend,” she added.
Currently, the Liberty Fitness Center offers Zumba fitness classes at 5:15 p.m. on Mondays and at 8:45 a.m. on Tuesdays.
For more information, please call the Liberty Fitness Center at 292-0756.

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