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Mar 11

Cruising the Caribbean for the love of Zumba

Posted on March 11, 2016 at 5:03 PM by Anastasia Ehlers

In 2012 Tara Barnes was a shy 19 year old when she started teaching Zumba classes for Eugene Rec at Amazon Community Center. Since then, her confidence has grown along with the number of faithful adoring fans who fill her classes. Tara’s students love her--so much so, that in January 2016 they pooled their resources to send Tara on the first-ever Zumba Cruise through Royal Caribbean.

We caught up with her after she returned to hear about the cruise and the fitness craze.
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Eugene Rec: You said you were a shy teen and definitely not someone who would dance in front of others, so how did you become a Zumba instructor?
Tara: My sister and mom were taking Zumba. When their instructor moved out of town, my mom really missed her Zumba class, so I bought her the Wii Zumba game and I’d dance around the house cause no one was watching, or so I thought. My mom noticed, mentioned more than once that I was a good dancer, plus I learned the routines really fast. Next thing I knew, she was researching Zumba training and we were driving to Bend so I could get certified as a Zumba instructor. If not for her support, I certainly wouldn’t be teaching now, which is hard to imagine because I love teaching Zumba and have such a great time with all my students.

What is Zumba?
Zumba is Latin-based dance fitness. The music is 70% Latin influenced and 30% other genres, depending on the musical taste of the instructor. In my classes, along with mostly Latin choices I mix it up with Bruno Mars, Michael Jackson and Tina Turner. You can work on toning, cardio, stamina, flexibility--anything you want to. If you want to work your muscles you can do lower squats, if you want to work on cardio you can jump around more, work up a sweat. I follow set dance routines but Zumba also encourages instructors to make up choreography. There are tons of specific types of Zumba: Toning Zumba, Aqua Zumba, Zumba Kids, Zumba Sentao, Zumba Beenie. There’s even Zumba Pets. I teach both Zumba Cardio which is designed to stretch, tone, and build stamina as well as Zumba Gold which is a slower paced version of Zumba Cardio. Classes are offered at Amazon and Sheldon Community Centers and at the Wellness Center for City of Eugene employees.

Tell us about the cruise.
It exceeded my expectations. We went to Haiti and Jamaica--a day on each Island. And then there was ZUMBA every day from 8:00 in the morning till 9:30 at night. 130 instructors from around the world were recruited to teach 4,000 Zumba outfit wearing fans in every nook and cranny of the ship. Beto Perez who founded Zumba in 2001 was there. That was my favorite class. Beto makes jokes. He just wants everyone to have a good time. It was a thrill. I’m so grateful to my students for giving me the opportunity. I’m already saving for next year.
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What is your wish for your Zumba students?   
I want people to have fun without the self-imposed pressure to perform or worry about not having rhythm or being fit or coordinated. Besides, Zumba is designed to help with all that and being that I don’t love working out, I figure if we’re having fun it makes for a better hour. You’re listening to great music, you have supportive people with good upbeat energy around you. I dance, people follow and the moves can be adjusted as needed. If people have injuries or don’t have the ability to do something or aren’t in-shape, I encourage them to take it slower or sit one song out. If you don’t follow the moves that’s fine. Have fun but keep moving!

How should someone pick a Zumba class?
Well of course I hope they’ll sign up for mine, but Zumba is about being inspired to move, so my advice: check out an instructor’s technique, and also their taste in music.

If you had to describe Zumba in 3 words what would you say?
Most definitely: energy, confidence, community.

Thanks so much to Tara for sharing the photos from her trip and telling us all about Zumba! Interested in trying out your moves? Follow the links below to register:

Have you tried Zumba? What do you like about it?

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