Moving from one country to another can be stressful especially when you don’t know anyone and you have nothing to do but sit at home all day.
So when Filipino expat Walter Labajo moved from Switzerland to the Netherlands in 2009, one of the first things he did was enroll himself in a gym where he can get some Zumba lessons. Today, he is a licensed Zumba instructor.
“In a Zumba class, stress melts away. As soon as you hear the festive music, see the brightly colored Zumba outfits, you instantly feel the party vibe. So, for an hour or so, you forget your worries. Zumba is a good way to clear your mind,” says Labajo.
Zumba originated from Colombia and was developed by dancer and choreographer Alberto Perez. It is a combination of different dance moves like hip hop, salsa, samba, mambo, soca and merengue. It also applies some martial arts techniques. It first hit gyms in the 90s.
An hour of Zumba can burn up to 500 calories and more especially when complex moves are involved like wider arm movements or lower squats.
Aside from helping him lose weight, Labajo says that it also helped him tone his muscles and improve his balance.
“The different steps engage different muscle groups. More often than not, I engage my core, not just to tighten my abs but to improve my posture as well. Zumba is really a full-body workout. It improved my coordination, too. The dance moves we do in class, especially the fast ones, require me to engage body parts in a fluid manner. Through the years of attending Zumba classes, I believe that it has improved my balance and agility,” explains Labajo.
Labajo plans to introduce Zumba classes to the Filipino community in the Netherlands as a healthy way of getting together. He hopes to organize a fitness weekend as an alternative to the usual parties. In the pipeline also is a personalized Zumba program for those hosting parties at home.
“It would be a fun, healthy and unique way of giving a party,” says Labajo.
Walter Labajo lives in Haarlem. Learn more about Zumba through his Facebook page www.facebook.com/walterlabajozumba or email wlabajo@ yahoo.com for a personalized Zumba party.