Some of the girls in the two lines of tweens and young teens giggled self-consciously as instructor Judy Saunders swiveled her hips. But they complied and followed her dance moves. For most of the 16 girls and boys present, it was their first Zumbatomic class.
Zumbatomic is the recently introduced children's version of the popular Zumba dance fitness program that adults have been taking for years, a class that is an intense dance workout to pop, hip-hop and Latin-themed music and includes salsa and merengue movements.
"I think it's like the newest thing," says Margie Hartough, head of teen services at the Half Hollow Hills Community Library in Dix Hills, which is offering Zumbatomic this month. "I try to stay current with what the kids are interested in."
Nisha Palla, 12, of Dix Hills, was hooked after her first class at the library. "I liked the songs that they chose," she says. "I liked the workout. It made me sweat a lot."
Here's a sampling of dance studios, gyms and libraries offering Zumbatomic classes for kids with certified Zumbatomic instructors. Go to zumba.com for additional Zumbatomic locations.
WHEN 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays
COST $15 per class
"The children's classes are much more simplified moves," says instructor DiAnn Belluccia. She mixes in music the kids love, such as Justin Bieber, along with the merengues. "Sometimes, we even play the same song over two or three times. They have a ball with it," Belluccia says. "We're doing fitness, but we're also there to have a lot of fun and make the kids feel good about what they're doing." Belluccia, like other certified Zumbatomic instructors, has been schooled in the Zumba dance "formula" and proper stretching, hydration and cool-down for the students, she says.
Bet U Can Dance Studio
3032 Jericho Tpke., East Northport, 631-623-6559, betucandance.com
WHEN 10 a.m. Saturdays or 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays "Big Stars," ages 7-12; 10 a.m. Sundays or 4:30 p.m. Mondays "Little Stars," ages 4-8
COST Six-week session, one class a week, begins Aug. 2 for $50
"Everybody keeps hearing how the obesity rates keep climbing. We're trying to find a way to get kids moving in a healthy and fun way," says instructor Susan Rubin. In Zumba adult classes, the session is 60 minutes and the music never stops. For the 45-minute children's classes, Bet U Can Dance teaches the steps before putting the music on, Rubin says. "Once they hear the music, it kind of disarms them. They get in the mood to move. They're having a good time dancing; they don't even realize it's exercise." This week, Bet U Can Dance is having a fundraiser for the American Diabetes Foundation, so the children will be combined in one 10 a.m. "master class" on Saturday for $10, during which nutritionists will be available in another room to talk to adults.
41 Mercedes Way, Edgewood (Deer Park); 631-586-4653, goldsgym.com/deerparkny
100 Landing Ave., Smithtown; 631-863-1616, goldsgym .com/smithtownny
181 Freeman Ave., Islip; 631-236-4670, goldsgym.com/islipny
COST $5 per child per class when parents are gym members; $10 per child per class for nonmembers, which includes a one-time, two-week guest pass for each parent
The Gold's Gyms in Deer Park, Smithtown and Islip started offering Zumbatomic this month for ages 6-14. "It's doable choreography for everybody," says Sue Slack, regional group fitness manager for the clubs. "Even though it has a Latin base, there's different flavors of different genres and international dances, including reggae and belly dancing." Each child gets a chance to dance up front with the instructor leading the class. "It's all about self-esteem, as well," Slack says. "They get the chance to go to the front and show off their stuff. The adults tend not to like to do that, but the kids, this helps to promote their self-esteem and confidence." Classes include some health and eating tips.
The Half Hollow Hills Community Library in Dix Hills still has two weeks left in its free Zumbatomic class, from 7 to 8 p.m. Fridays, for library cardholders. Register at hhhlibrary.org. Check your area library for similar offerings. The libraries pay the instructors, so it's often free or at reduced cost for participants, who need to have library cards.