These days you can’t enter a gym, or video game store, or watch a little late-night television without seeing one strange word: Zumba! If you have yet to try it, there are no more excuses. Everyone is doing it, from 80-year-old grandmothers to 8-year-old children. Even if you have two left feet (you know who you are), Zumba is still a great fitness class for you. Except they don’t call them “fitness classes”, it’s a “party” and instructors are called “party masters”.

And it’s everywhere. And I mean everywhere. There are more than 323 Zumba classes offered within 10 miles of Boca Raton. Here is a complete list of classes in our area.

Hallandale-based Zumba was created by Alberto “Beto” Perez in Colombia and came to the U.S. in 2001. Now, it has more than 110,000 locations in 125 countries. A Zumba class is typically 55-60 minutes long and incorporates both slow and fast rhythms. The moves are a mix of salsa, meringue, cha-cha-cha, samba and more. But you don’t need to know any of the steps before trying a class.

There are also many different kinds of Zumba. In our area, in addition to regular Zumba classes, Zumbatomic (for kids), and Zumba Gold (for active, older adults) are both popular.

Zumba doesn’t franchise or charge licensing fees, but in order to be called Zumba, the class has to be taught by a Zumba-trained instructor. That’s why at some local gyms, you may see a class called “Latin Fusion” or “Latin Impact”. These classes are similar to Zumba but may not be taught be a Zumba-specific certified instructor.

Boca’s legendary Zumba instructor Bernadette Fejszes (561/572-1010; Zumba4you.com) is one of Zumba’s original instructors. She performs with Perez at training seminars and in videos. You can also see her performing on stage with Pitbull at award shows. Fejszes gave out CDs of her favorite Zumba music as presents last Christmas. Now, I find myself listening to Spanish language radio stations in the car. I don’t speak the language but I’m always singing along. Zumba is that addicting.

Like other group fitness classes, Zumba is what you make of it. You can burn 500-1000 calories a class, so if you don’t leave covered in sweat then you just aren’t trying.

Also, if you take a quick look around, you’ll see that nobody looks like they’re in music video. The classes are judgment-free. The dynamics of a Zumba class are like any other group fitness class. You have the front-of-the-class-people that have obviously been practicing for a while and then there’s everyone else. If you are intimidated, stay in the back for a class or two. But definitely try it. It will be one of the most fun workouts you’ve ever tried.