Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Heading west to my Zumba 'home' group

You know how you find a favorite class, favorite instructor, favorite routines and that's the one you can't wait to get back to?

I'm heading back to Sacramento next month --- the epicenter of great Zumba teachers ---  but I can't wait to join up with my Pakko groupies in his Zumba class, M-W-F at 5:30 near Cal Expo.

I had taken a summer of Zumba classes in Upstate New York two summer's ago. When I returned to work in Sacramento, I started looking for some classes through the Zumba.com class locator. It's a great web-based roledex. I tried out a few that were okay but then landed in Pakko's class, originally off 24th Ave. and Broadway. He's since moved to a bigger studio.
It was packed! I didn't know a soul but it didn't matter. These guys were rocking and the guy at the front was making it happen. It didn't matter  how little elbow room we had or how we much sweat we dripped. 

It was absolute Zumba fun, a serious addiction.

So, what's so great about his class, besides the fabulous workout? Since I've become an instructor, I've tried to figure it out. Here's what I've come up with so far:

• Pakko really knows how to dance. He wasn't an aerobics instructor who decided to teach Zumba. He's a Latin dancer who knows fitness, who joined Zumba early on. So when you're watching him in the front of class, it looks like great, something you want to emulate.

• As hard a workout as you get, the routines are still simple to follow. He does all his own choreography but has a lot of repetition of moves, building on each move as the song progresses. And he does great cues. When he whistles, all heads snap forward because you know there's going to be a change. I can't whistle like that, but what a great technique.

• You never know what will be on each day's play list. He's a DJ as well as a dancer and a Zumba instructor, so he has a huge range of music and must have created hundreds of routines. So although there is the necessary repetition of songs from class to class, there's also a lot of new stuff coming our way. So --- it's never boring.

• And somehow he gets the crowd really moving, hooting and hollering. Incredible energy.

Beyond the class, he's also quick to donate his time for Zumba jams for a good cause. 

Pakko drops by a Zumbathon during his lunch hour to help out
Last year he showed up at a fundraiser in his work clothes to lead a few numbers --- shades of the original YMCA construction workers. Fantastic.

And last month he held a jam to raise money for a co-worker because the man couldn't afford to buy new glasses, even though he was working full time.

A good guy.

If you're in the Sacramento area, you can find Pakko's class (Abraham Contreras) at 1791 Tribute Rd. Suite B, in Sacramento, right near REI and Costco. 

Maybe I'll see you there on Sept. 14 on my way through town. Here's a video clip from class in December. For Smartphones and iPads, click here.

video