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Zumba on Sanibel

November 21, 2012 - Dr. Greg Walsh
In 1986, a Columbian aerobics teacher went to work one morning and realized he left his workout music at home. In an act of improvisation, Alberto "Beto" Perez decided to play some of his own music and encouraged the class to dance to the Latin beats. The dance session was an instant success and fifteen years later, he introduced his workout craze to the United States under the moniker “Zumba.” For today’s blog, I had the chance to ask Sanibel’s own Zumba Instructor Evette Zurbriggen, about her decision to inspire our community to better health.

GREG: Can you talk about what brought on your desire to bring Zumba to the Sanibel area?

EVETTE: About four years ago, I attended my first Zumba class while I was at a resort in California. I had such a great workout and it was so much fun that I started to look for Zumba classes around Sanibel. At that time I had to go to Fort Myers for class. Well... as you know, we islanders don't like to go over that bridge unless we have to! I ended up taking a few classes and discovered each instructor had their own style and unique way of teaching class.

At that stage, an opportunity to become a licensed Zumba instructor came up in Naples- so I attended the intense training and decided to go into business here on the island.

It has been such a blessing to be able to meet Zumba enthusiasts from around the world who attend my classes, from as far away as Brussels, The Netherlands, and Germany and as close as neighbors right down the street. I am fortunate to be able to provide this class to a very active, fun loving group of people.

GREG: Have you always had a passion for dance and/or athletics?

EVETTE: I have had a passion for living a healthy lifestyle my whole life. Dancing with my husband, Rick is one of my very favorite things to do, so yes- dancing makes me happy! One of the questions I always get about Zumba is "Do I have to know how to dance?" or " I have no rhythm." Well- the answer is no- you don't have to know how to dance and if you don't have rhythm- then You Need Zumba!

Yes, I have been an athlete since childhood. I started in track and field and then fell in love with horseback riding. In college, I was a weightlifter and did competitive bodybuilding with my husband. After we moved to Sanibel thirteen years ago, my athletic activities became kayaking, bike riding and running a marathon. All of these are wonderful ways to exercise, but doing Zumba has been so much more fun!

I now teach Zumba Toning and we really work out- but it feels more like a fun time with colorful clothes, maracas, and moving to Latin music. My classes are geared to each student's level of fitness. I tailor to individuals, offering several levels of modifications. It brings me joy to see people smile and get fit while doing Zumba with me!

GREG: I like the fact that your Zumba sessions involve everyone shaking maracas at the same time. Does the class get in a good musical harmony or does it turn into a fun chaos?

EVETTE: Well, we think we are in "harmony" but maybe it really is more like chaos! None the less it is fun. The toning sticks are 1.5 lbs.

GREG: What sets Zumba apart from other forms of exercise and why are so many people drawn to your classes?

EVETTE: Best answer for both questions is pretty much the same reason…

People who are drawn to Zumba and Zumba Toning, is what draws people to my classes at the Community House and The Sanibel Health Club... because they love to exercise to music and enjoy the mental/physical challenge that every Zumba class offers. We get to move, shake, balance, and get heart healthy all at the same time. There is such a whimsical quality to the type of people who enjoy a Zumba workout. We are all ages, body types, fitness levels and nationalities. Maybe that is what sets my students apart :)


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