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Tuckahoe is Wild for Zumba

TUCKAHOE, N.Y. -- On a recent Saturday morning, fitness instructor Nora Montoya asked her students the definition of "Zumba."

"Party!" they shouted in chorus, just before starting a Zumba class at Tuckahoe's Pyramid Squash, on Elm Street.

Then they went on to prove that they'd answered right. During an entire hour, the 13 women, ages ranging from twenties to fifties, danced and jumped at the sound of merengue, salsa, cumbia and other Latin rhythms, emulating their enthusiastic teacher.

Zumba, a fitness dance class driven by Latin music, is becoming increasingly popular, with an estimated 12 million worldwide practitioners in around 110,000 locations, according to a recent New York Times article . Its principle is simple. People found the music so irresistible, that they don't realize they are exercising.

"It's a fun way to burn calories," said Montoya, who also teaches Zumba at several other towns in Westchester County, including other modalities such as Zumba Gold (for elders or new exercisers) and Aqua Zumba. (See her schedule here .)

Montoya put great energy in the class, both through her body and through her vocal cords. At intervals she let out a scratching "yuhuuuu!" justifying the message printed on her blue tank top: "Wild for Zumba."

Still students moved slowly at the beginning. But as she kept shaking and music kept blowing, faces turned smiley, legs flung higher, sweat started dripping.

At the end, everybody looked tired, but happy.

"It's dancing and it's fun," said Mount Vernon resident April Holder.

"It keeps your energy up all the time," added Jennifer Howes, of Tuckahoe.

Despite the exclusive female attendance, Montoya made it clear that classes are open to both sexes.

"Every now and then a smart man shows up," she said.

How many calories have you burned in Zumba? Tell us in comments below or on Facebook

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