Derek Crews, Ken Ezzell, and Tony Messina are among a growing number of men who show up regularly to Zumba classes predominantly attended by women.
Derek Crews, Ken Ezzell, and Tony Messina never heard of the Zumba dance fitness craze until it was already wildly popular in Philadelphia and New York City. But the trio is among a growing number of men who show up regularly to Zumba classes predominantly attended by women.
These men say they keep returning to Zumba classes because they get a great workout. It doesn’t feel less like exercise because Latin dance steps are incorporated instead of standard aerobic fitness moves. And it’s all done to mostly world music, including Salsa, Merengue, Ragaeton (Spanish hip-hop), and a sprinkling of top radio hits.
In March 2011, Derek started taking Zumba classes regularly at Salsa in the Suburbs Dance Studio. Subsequently, he lost 145 pounds, and later became a certified Zumba instructor. However, he feels most proud about his mother, Carol Bryant, joining Zumba: “My mom taking Zumba, dancing in public, is a monumental achievement. She hates to exercise but she likes to dance. So she fooled herself into thinking she’s not exercising.” And now mother and son are hooked. She regularly accompanies him to Zumba classes on Saturdays.
Tony Messina, a singer-songwriter with South Philadelphia roots, said he’s usually the only guy in his Zumba class. He fits right in though, and since starting in January 2011, has made many friends. He wants to stay in shape for public performances and has found Zumba is helpful. He enjoys the flexibility of setting his own pace, deciding when to push himself.
“It’s a great workout. I’d recommend it to anyone,” said Tony, who believes some guys may shy away from Zumba classes because they are generally more self-conscious about dancing in public than women.”
Tony even wrote a song called “Oomba Zoomba” (downloadable on iTunes) and encourages guys to try Zumba at least once. “You might even meet your next girlfriend, wife or the love of your life,” added Tony.
There’s a lot of variation between Zumba classes because some instructors emphasize aerobic fitness while others place a greater focus on dance.
Ken has been taking Zumba classes for the last few months; His wife Polly sparked his interest after she came across a great deal for Zumba classes at Salsa in the Suburbs. Ken, who was coping with a chronic lower back injury, was apprehensive about exercising.
However, the low-impact Zumba classes did not cause him any pain, and he foresees taking Zumba classes with his wife for a long time to come.
“It’s great for us as a couple. We talk about class. We encourage each other. It’s something we both can do together,” he said.
It has also helped the 62-year-old man stay up to date with current music trends. He now enjoys chart-topping music. This ex-marathon runner, stays physically active by taking Zumba classes regularly and foresees taking Zumba for a long time to come.
Nicole Lanciano, who has been teaching Zumba at Salsa in the Suburbs since 2009, says “Zumba was designed for everyone, and is all-inclusive. It doesn’t matter the age of the person, whether or not they have dance experience, or their gender. It actually was created by a man, so maybe if more guys knew this, then they’d come! I do love having men in the class since it raises the enthusiasm and makes the class feel even more like a party!”