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ZUM FUN AND FITNESS TOO

Sometimes, the beat will just get to you.

Especially during a Zumba class at a local YMCA.

"It's Latin dancing - upbeat Latin dancing," said Wendy Cassetta, Zumba instructor and SunTrust Branch YMCA program and wellness director. "But there are fast songs, then slow songs, then fast again, but the object of that is to bring up your heart rate, bring it down, then shoot it back up again. That way you burn more calories."

Zumba, a fitness program inspired by Latin music and created by Alberto "Beto" Perez, also incorporates music such as salsa, merengue, hip-hop and even the cha cha. Mostly fast-paced Latin songs are played to choreographed dances - some created by Cassetta, some from the Zumba program - and some of the inexperienced dancers or first-timers struggle to keep up.

"A lot of people come in there because this is something they want to do, but wouldn't normally do," Cassetta said. "It's like a party. Yeah, a dance party and it doesn't matter if you're going the same way as everybody else because you're still getting a workout."

Cassetta says anyone can learn the dances, and if done right, people can burn 800 to 1,000 calories an hour.

Zumba is offered at most YMCAs in Hernando and Pasco counties. To find out more, log onto www.suncoastymca.org and contact your local YMCA. To speak with Cassetta, call (727) 844-0332.

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