Women of all ages, from young girls to senior citizens, did the salsa, cha-cha and reggaeton as sweat poured down their faces and necks.
They didn’t care. They were having too much fun to worry about what they looked like.
That’s the beauty of Zumba, an aerobic workout based on Latin dance moves, instructors said. People of all ages, fitness levels and dance abilities can participate without feeling as if they have to be perfect.
“It’s like a dance party with your friends, and nobody bothers you,” instructor Kristi Downing said.
The YMCA of Northern Rock County offers Zumba at its Janesville locations and started offering classes at The Gathering Place, Milton’s senior center, in June. The Milton classes proved so popular that the Y already has added a second weekly class.
The Milton classes are open to anyone for $2 a class on Monday and Thursday nights.
Three instructors wearing jingly coin scarves around their waists led about 30 women through the moves Monday. Two instructors did the high-intensity steps while the third offered a lower-impact workout. They called out the dance moves to some, while they let other dancers simply follow their lead.
“It’s more focused on the party-dance atmosphere, not someone telling you what to do every eight counts,” said Jessie Cutsinger, YMCA fitness director.
Colombian fitness trainer Beto Perez invented Zumba in the 1990s when he forgot to bring music to his aerobics class, according to the official Zumba Web site. Instead, he used the only music in his car, and a worldwide exercise craze was born.
Some of the dancers Monday seemed familiar with Latin dances, while others did the best they could. Laughter and cheering followed each song.
Bonny Guenther, 39, Milton, was there for the first time.
“You just did whatever,” she said. “It’s very liberating.”
Friends Nancee Moyer, 65, and Sue Teske, 56, both of Janesville, enjoy the rhythm and the workout, they said.
“With dancing, it doesn’t feel like 45 minutes,” Teske said.
The Y chose to offer Zumba in Milton to help reach out to all of northern Rock County, Cutsinger said. The Y bought land to build a new facility in Milton.
The Gathering Place, for its part, is happy to host the classes, said Paula Schutt, executive director.
“We really want to strive to open up The Gathering Place as a community venue as well in the evenings, to get the building used on a more complete basis,” she said.
“Zumba is all the rage right now. People in Milton are excited to have a venue to be able to do it.”