That's how something like Zumba Toning hits the fitness market. It popped up in late 2008 and has grown steadily. It's now offered almost everywhere you can find Zumba—local fitness studios, the YMCA, major health clubs, even city-based recreation programs.
For 45-year-old Dearborn, Mich., resident Kelly Plaunt, Zumba Toning is part of a fitness program that has helped her shed 91 pounds.
"It is a blast," says Plaunt, who started regular Zumba in September 2008 and added Zumba Toning a few months later when Elements of Exercise in Dearborn became one of the first gyms in the area to offer it. "We laugh so much. After class, my face hurts more than anything from all the laughing and smiling."
A hospital clinical liaison and freelance respiratory therapist, Plaunt, mom to an 18-year-old son, attends classes five days a week. Zumba and Zumba Toning are always on her schedule, as are a stretch band class, an abdominal class and adult hip-hop, among others. She also does Weight Watchers, and said the combination of diet plus exercise has her feeling better than ever. At 5-foot-6, she now weighs 136 pounds.
"I have some nice arms," she says. "I'm in the best shape of my life."
Zumba Toning classes are easy enough for a beginner, she said, but they also offer a good challenge.
"After an hour class," Plaunt says, "those 1 1/2-pound weights feel like 10 pounds."
Detroit Zumba and aerobics instructor Debbie Lim, who runs a Web site called zumbaofmichigan.com, says students should make sure their instructor is certified through a national governing body like the American Council on Exercise (ACE) or the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America . That's especially true for Zumba Toning because instructors need to teach proper form to prevent injuries.
"If you're doing a shimmy while holding a toning stick, it's so easy to hyperextend," says Lim, with Fitness Motivators. "It's also a health hazard when you put the sticks down. Someone can easily step on them."
Emily Davis, who teaches Zumba Toning classes at Henry Ford Community College, says she has to offer a lot of instruction to students to ensure they're doing all the moves safely.
"You have to be much more focused, explain where each foot is going, explain how we pick the weights up and put them down so people aren't breaking their ankles."
Davis suggests that interested students ask any teacher for credentials before signing up for a class. "People just assume you're certified," Davis says. "That drives me crazy to see people teaching after taking a one-day class."
In the right hands, Zumba Toning is a marketing ploy that's hit a solid mark of providing a new medium to have fun and get ripped, too, she says.
"They're going to get an awesome work out from head to toe," Davis, 26, says. "You'll be isolating every muscle in the body. You'll be sore in places you don't know because you don't know you have muscles there."