Posted on June 26, 2013
One of the many things I never imagined I would find myself doing is taking a Zumba class next to Louis Smith. Right next to him – as in so close I could reach out and touch one of the famous muscles that not only launched a thousand armchair admirers last year, but won him sparkling prizes: a silver medal, an MBE and, of course, the Strictly glitterball.
We are in Pacha nightclub in London’s Victoria and Sugababe Jade Ewen is dancing with us too, with her enviable abs on show. No, I’m not in an outlandish dream, but at the launch of the Zumba Great Calorie Drive, on April 24.
To mark the launch, we are in a special class led by Zumba Education Specialists Vicky Zagarra (pictured with Louis and Jade above), Donna Giffen and Caroline Parsons. It’s hot work, but all for a good cause. The initiative’s slogan, “Don’t just burn calories, donate them,” encourages people to help fight world hunger through dance.
Until June 30, participants can shake off their calories in Zumba classes worldwide, as the dance fitness organisation donates the equivalent of the average amount of calories burned per class (750 calories, for up to three classes) to the World Food Programme.
Said Louis Smith: “Hunger is still a big issue – not only on a global level – but also in our own country. I love the unique idea of donating your calories through dance and that’s just what Zumba Fitness is doing. Over the next three months they are donating the equivalent of 3.5 million meals [based on the ‘typical’ meal size] to the World Food Programme, which will make a huge difference.”
During the campaign, Zumba Fitness is challenging the world to donate 2.6 billion calories towards hunger-relief efforts. With hunger affecting one in eight people worldwide – more than 870 million– Zumba is urging everyone to “give the world a reason to dance” by attending Zumba classes and donating the calories burned to the WFP.
In addition to the calories burned at classes, enthusiasts can help the cause by purchasing something from a special limited-edition line of Zumba apparel created for the Great Calorie Drive initiative (see www.zumba.com/shop). For each purchase, Zumba Fitness will donate 30 per cent of the sale price to the WFP.
“‘The Great Calorie Drive’ is incredibly motivating – it’s about taking care of others while you take care of yourself,” said Jay Aldous, director of private sector partnerships at the WFP. “This is a terrific initiative and a great example of how technology can be put to use for a great cause.”
Photographs: Matt Crossick