Sterling residents Catherine Caminero and Vanessa Ledesna are changing lives through Zumba classes.
Zumba combines Latin dance moves and cardiovascular exercises into routines that, with a little practice, just about anyone can follow.
"It’s a great way to lose weight and have fun," Caminero said. "It’s dancing."
At first, their Zumba classes at Studio Bleu in Sterling were made up of other wives and mothers looking for a new way to get in shape. Now, in their second session, Caminero and Ledesna's classes are packed with men and women of all ages.
"People are catching on," she said, "because you can see the results."
Caminero and Ledesna grew up in Venezuela, where, they said, music and dance were a big part of their lives.
Caminero, who is a wife, mother and day-care provider, as well as a school volunteer, said her busy schedule left her little time to take care of herself. Ledesna agreed.
"I miss going out, dancing," she said. "This class fulfills that."
CAMINERO MOVED her body from right to left in front of the Sterling studio Wednesday night. Her students kept their eyes on her hips. Unlike other exercise classes, Caminero instructs her students to listen to the music rather than call out instructions.
Caminero played merengue, reggaeton, mambo, rumba, flamenco and salsa music for her students.
"It will get easier," she said. "Just listen to the music."
Ledesna arrived at the halfway point of the hour-long Zumba class Wednesday night.
In order for her to pick up the energy in the room, Ledesna yipped and yelled to the salsa music and bounced from side to side on her toes. Her long, black hair swung across her back. She was sweating in no time.
"I want them to feel what I’m feeling when I’m dancing," she said. "I want to get them excited about exercise."
Ledesna became an instructor after she lost 50 pounds on the Zumba program.
"I wanted to help others," she said. "If I can do it, anybody can do it. I really do believe in this."
Ledesna, a wife and mother, said she tried a number of diets and exercise programs, but nothing worked, until she found Zumba. She compared Zumba to a Friday night on the town.
Caminero and Ledesna teach their students how to dance to popular Latin music. The steps are simple, and repetitive, so if students don’t get it right the first time, they have the opportunity to get the hang of it through out the song and from week to week.
"It does get easier," Ledesna said.
THE PAIR teach Zumba classes Wednesday nights at Studio Bleu in Sterling. Call Caminero, 703-481-2547, to sign up.
Caminero said she will begin teaching classes at the Ashburn Sports Pavilion in March and the new Claude Moore Recreation Center in Cascades, when it opens.
"It’s really catching on," Caminero said. "More and more of my friends are asking me to teach more classes. It’s working."
Margaria Scott travels from Gainesville, Va., to take the class.
Scott, who is also from Venezuela and is friends with Caminero and Ledesna, said Zumba does not feel like an exercise class.
"I feel like I'm out with my girlfriends," she said. "We have fun here. And it's a night out."