Zumba La Paz: Dancing With The Stars
Updated: May 2
Do you love Zumba? Are you in, or visiting La Paz? Are you interested in dancing with the stars? If you answered yes to any of these questions, I implore you to read on.
I love Zumba. Zumba changed me from a hugely overweight, unfit person who hated even the idea of exercise, to the type of person who will seek out a three-hour Zumbathon on a Sunday morning - and enjoy it. It worked for me, when so many other things didn’t, because it is fun, it’s like dancing and it’s really welcoming and inclusive.
It allowed me to get to the point I could start boxing, and between the two of them, for the first time in my life I got quite fit over the past few years. As a side benefit I shrank, and became, if not slim, then definitely a size with which I felt comfortable. Sometimes I was even described as hot 😊 More importantly it made me happy, and I made great friends while doing it.
In London, I went religiously every Saturday, even when desperately hungover, to an amazing class I still miss. I also went once during the week, when I could get out of work early enough. If I couldn’t go, I got grumpy. I was so committed, I sought out Zumba classes when I was away with work, in Ireland when visiting my family, and I even took a class while holidaying in Cuba.
So, despite an enforced break to retrain as an English teacher, travelling, and the inevitable expansion in my waistline caused by... uhm, taco sampling, I did some research and found Zumba Lpz.
This studio, located at Norte 845, on the eastern edge of the city, looked ideal from the pictures and reviews I found online. I was not disappointed. It was not the closest to our first La Paz casita, but I went there once and had no need to look elsewhere. The welcome I got when I arrived was incredible and the classes were really good. After some help and trial and error, I even worked out how to get there by La Paz’s notoriously opaque pesero (bus) system. (See below.)
Zumba La Paz runs classes Monday to Friday from 9-10am, and then at 5-6 and 6-7pm in the evening. The afternoon times get later during the long, hot summer days. And at MX$30 a class or MX$70 for a week of classes, it’s incredible value.
I’ve been doing Zumba since 2012, and I’ve come to the conclusion there are basically two types of Zumba teacher: the 'dancey' ones and the 'fitness' ones. For me the ones from a professional dance background, or who just have the rhythm in their souls, are by far the best. I can usually tell within the first class which type they are.
Getting a good Zumba teacher can make the difference between an uplifting, if potentially exhausting experience, which surreptitiously works all the major muscle groups; or a gruelling “Let’s go!” aerobics workout - with the emphasis on 'work'.
From my first time there, it was obvious morning teacher Juan Carlos had the moves, was great at encouraging newbies through his head mic, and employed the full range of Latin dance styles for which Zumba has become famous.
The studio has a library of more than 300 zumba dance songs, all with routines. You don’t hear the same songs every week, but the routines are not hard to follow. Juan Carlos, known as Johnny, also incorporates extras which change daily, from weights to a very effective abs floor workout.
Even more incredibly, I found out on my second or third visit that he and his sister, who takes the afternoon classes, are actually Mexican celebrities who, with another brother, found fame in the 1990s after winning a national talent show with their boy/girl band Los Chicos de La Paz! The group continued together for more than 10 years.
Check them out - Johnny is the one singing at the front:
They're basically the Mexican Take That. It’s no wonder they can dance!
The patrons, a dedicated bunch, seem to go daily and are really friendly and kind. They added me to a class WhatsApp group in about the second week. If you want to make friends and practice Spanish, it’s ideal.
If you’re looking for a shiny gym with air conditioning, showers and changing rooms, this isn’t the place for you. It’s a family business with a studio attached to a house. They’ve put a lot of work into the surroundings and there is a clean, fair-sized space, decent stereo, reclaimed mirrors and exercise bikes.
There aren’t always enough extras - mats, weights etc - so people who have them bring their own. You need to bring your own water and towel but if you need the bathroom, they will happily let you use the family facilities, although mostly people come, work out and leave.
You even get to pet the family dogs while you are there! - my favourite is Fiona (above).
The only disadvantage of this place is classes stopped for a whole month over Christmas and New Year due to dwindling attendance. This may be a cultural thing but my God, talk about choosing the worst time of year to have an extended break.
I forgave them though, when they came back and started cheering up my mornings again.
These guys have been my first Zumba family in the Americas and I only hope I can find somewhere as good in our next city. You've no excuse - if you want the best Zumba songs, in fantastic company, dig out your Zumba shoes and get on down!
Address: Norte 845 E/ Josefa Ortiz De Dominguez Y Heroes De Independencia
23010 La Paz, Baja California Sur
Phone: 612 690 6499
Bonus: How To Get There By Pesero From Centro:
You can get a bus from the front of Mercado Francisco I Madero on Revolution de 1910, where many of the buses stop; or from outside the Museo de Antropología e Historia de Baja California Sur. Make sure you get on the one with Pedregal written on the front, or you’ll end up going in the totally wrong direction and, you’ve guessed it, missing class.
More than one pesero goes down Calle Lic. Primo Verdad to Pedregal. However, to avoid a 20 minute round-the-houses detour around the edges of La Paz, as happened to me, get the Ballena Bus - the big Ruta La Paz bus with the whale’s tail painted on it.
Once on the bus, follow its progress on your phone’s GPS until you get near to the studio. Aim for the corner of Primo and Norte and ask the driver to drop you off on the corner: "A la esquina, por favor."
Hopefully you're now just two blocks from the studio!
Both the Ballena and regular colectivos return through centro, and carry on further west. The ones I’ve taken did not take a circuitous route back.
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