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“The most difficult thing is letting go of your own inhibitions”

“The most difficult thing is letting go of your own inhibitions”

Photographer:Fotograaf: Joey Roberts/ Illustratie Janneke Swinkels

Zumba on Monday and Thursday

UM Sports opened the doors of the new university sports centre one year ago. Each week, Observant shows up in sports gear to participate in one of the sessions, and will do so until the summer. Today: Zumba.

The beginner: While everyone tries to find a place in the hall, it becomes obvious who the newcomers are and who's been here before. The latter go to the front with self-assurance, whereas the newcomers are at the back trying to get their bearings. Then there are the mirrors. But as instructor Armand van Bogaert said before the lesson, “you will be grateful for them later on, because they make it easier to see what I am doing.”

He is right, as soon as the music starts, every shred of awkwardness is quickly forgotten. You are too busy following the moves – preferably in the right rhythm. Zumba steps are loosely based on salsa dancing, but Van Bogaert makes his own mix and encourages participants to do the same. It doesn't need to be a perfect dance, just make sure you move.

And we do move. The group goes from left to right, jumps up and down, throws legs into the air and dives to the floor. The Latin influences can be detected in the twisting and turning of the hips. There is a lot of variety and humour too. When Bruno Mars sings that he is 'too hot', Van Bogaert cools himself by fanning his hands.

Time flies by and the pace drops. Van Bogaert peps up the group with a ‘come on’ gesture. Give it your all before the cooling down starts.

The expert: “I have had some very surprised girls come up to me after a lesson, who knew me from other lessons: We didn't know you could move your hips like that, better than any girl in the hall!” Armand van Bogaerts laughs at that, because “Zumba has a high fun factor. The most difficult part is letting go of your own inhibitions. Certainly if there are people eating in the university restaurant that looks out over the hall. You use your whole body and you train your fitness, strength and endurance. You can give it more when you have been doing it for a while.”

Other instructors may give themselves a break by taking time to explain things; Van Bogaert remains active throughout the lesson. “I encourage people with my body language and the expression on my face. When they start to wane, I bounce on the stage even more. This interaction is great fun.” What you have to be careful with, are the turns. “Don't throw your hips as far to the front as I do, start off with small movements.”

Target group: “People who find aerobics steps too difficult. You don't need to do exactly what I do. Try the legs first, then the arms and if it doesn't work, do something that you like yourself,” says Van Bogaert. On average, about seventy students attend the lesson. All female, except for one or two guys.

The facts: Zumba, Monday from 17:30-18:30hrs and Thursday from 16:00-17:00hrs

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