Zumba Fitness is giving everyone a reason to dance with its campaign to put an end to hunger. Judy Johnson joined in for the first leg of The Great Calorie Drive
It's fair to say that Zumba is somewhat of a contagious fitness craze. Since the Latin-inspired dance class came to the UK countless venues have opened up to a mass of fans who want to shimmy and shake their way to a better body. With an infectious soundtrack at every class and a fun party atmosphere that doesn't feel like gruelling exercise, it's transformed the way women, and even men, have approached their fitness regimes.
Now the people behind Zumba Fitness are doing their bit not just to reduce our waistlines, but to help the polar opposite; those who are suffering with hunger around the world. With The Great Calorie Drive, Zumba is urging everyone to donate their calories with the tagline 'Don't just burn calories, donate them'.
By simply checking in whenever you attend a class using the free Zumba Fitness app, you can donate 750 calories - the average amount burned per class - to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and help stave off starvation. Essentially, for every class you attend and check in to, the fitness fanatics will give one healthy meal to the WFP.
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Whether you're a Zumba fan or not, the concept is a brilliant one. Every day here in the UK we are confronted with tips on how to eat healthily, how to shed those pounds to get to an optimum, healthy weight and how to reduce the obesity crisis; even here at GTG one of our most popular features is how to do the 5:2 diet and our latest Project Bikini guide because so many of us want to shift the extra pounds and shape up. So it's very humbling to think that while we're always dealing with excess as if it's a chore, there are others who don't even have enough food to survive - which makes the Great Calorie Drive a pretty smart idea to redress that balance. One in eight people around the world do not have enough to eat; that's more than 850 million people.
“Hunger is one of the world’s greatest solvable problems,” said Alberto Perlman, co-founder and CEO of Zumba Fitness. “While many fight to burn calories, others suffer from hunger. The Zumba network is in a unique position to tip the scales in the right direction, and we expect to touch millions of lives.”
We popped along to the launch at Pacha London this week, where Sugababe Jade Ewen and Olympian Louis Smith MBE joined the instructors and fronted the campaign as we kick-started the donations with an energetic Zumba class in the nightclub.
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Singer Jade looked the part in her Zumba gear and was more than happy to get involved: “Zumba classes are such a fun way to keep fit with friends, it feels like exercise in disguise. It’s such a simple idea but if enough people check into their local Zumba class, it can make a real difference to so many people.”
It's safe to say it's not as easy as it looks; everyone worked up quite the sweat through the course of the hour-long class but looking around, nobody had a straight face - it's impossible to wiggle and grind your way through a workout without a smile, and even harder when you know it’s for a great cause.
The Great Calorie Drive runs from April - June 2013, during which time anyone can check in to their local Zumba classes using the free app ( Android and iPhones only). For each check in, Zumba Fitness will donate one healthy meal to the World Food Programme. Find your nearest class at www.zumba.com .