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Ok, so I am the kind of person who latches on to the latest fitness craze. I’ve done them all - aerobics, step, Yoga, Pilates, Aqua Aerobics, in fact anything and everything. I’ve pumped iron of sorts in the gym and got bored, swum up and down the pool and got bored, tried Boxercise and even martial arts. Then I discovered Zumba and I’m hooked. It’s like nothing else I’ve tried and you never get bored! I love the music, especially the Latin rhythms and of course everyone’s favourite Jai Ho – from Slumdog Millionaire.

There are lots of Zumba classes all over the world. Zumba is currently being taught at 60,000 locations, in 105 countries with over 7.5 million people participating in classes every week.

So what is Zumba, I hear you ask? It’s a dance based fitness workout which is taking the world by storm. Not only do you dance along to a fusion of Latin rhythms and easy to follow dances moves in a party-like environment, but you also burn between 500-1000 calories in an hour. You do not need a partner, you do not need to be a proficient dancer, you just turn up and get an effective and exhilarating workout.

Zumba uses aerobic, resistance and interval training to give you an absolute blast of calorie-burning, muscle-toning and body-energising moves. As well as the physiological benefits, Zumba is also being used to help treat depression and other psychological issues. With the hypnotic Latin rhythms and awe-inspiring dance moves, Zumba really does help you dance away both the bulges and the blues.

And no-one makes it fun like Mandy Bains. Mandy has been teaching Zumba in Cheltenham and Gloucester since March 2010. After graduating in Psychology and French from The University of Bath, Mandy decided to take some time out before embarking on a more conventional career, to rediscover her passion in fitness.

Having qualified as an exercise to music instructor in November 2009, she went on to teach Step Aerobics, Body Combat and then found Zumba. Zumba was an immediate hit with her; so much so, it has led her to postpone her career as a French teacher to focus on teaching and promoting this lively dance class.

“Being a Zumba instructor is fabulous!” she says. “I just love seeing people of all ages and abilities come along to Zumba and spend the hour having fun, dancing and laughing. The energy in the class is electrifying, with everybody having a giggle as we do the Beyonce booty shake or the Shakira hip wiggle. When I’m teaching Zumba, I cannot stop smiling, and neither can the participants. I’ve met so many fantastic people, who like me, cannot get enough of Zumba.”

Mandy grew up listening to international music and fell in love with the Zumba rhythms. She currently teaches around 14 Zumba classes a week for adults plus Zumbatomic – Zumba for children - in schools and leisure centres. She holds a Zumba Basics Steps 1 and 2 award and a Zumbatomic award. Due to the fun and entertaining nature of Zumba, she also hosts Zumba parties.

On Sunday 17 July, from 2.00pm to 5.00pm, Mandy will be holding a three hour Zumbathon to raise money for two great charities – Winston’s Wish and Sue Ryder. Winston’s Wish is the leading childhood bereavement charity and offers support and guidance to enable bereaved children to deal with their grief and rebuild positive futures. Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice in Cheltenham provides the only hospice beds for the whole of Gloucestershire and cares for people with Cancer, Brain Injury, Multiple Sclerosis, Dementia, Huntington’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Motor Neurone Disease and those who have suffered a stroke. They help hundreds of local families every year. The hospice relies on support from the community to help raise over £1million in voluntary donations every year to continue providing this vital service.

The Zumbathon, which is being held at The Centaur Auditorium at Cheltenham Racecourse, will be three hours of non-stop Zumba action and fun, but don’t panic, you can do as much or little as you like so long as you promise to have fun! It doesn’t matter if you have been going to classes since day one, or if you are a complete beginner you will soon pick up the steps.

Last year’s Zumbathon was a huge success and raised approximately £7,000 for MacMillan Cancer Support, with around 200 people taking part. This year it is hoped that the event will be bigger and better! The Centaur Auditorium is a great venue with a capacity for up to 800… that’s the target! Mandy wants to fill it and raise lots of money for these two amazing charities. Bring your family and friends and help make the day as fantastic as it was last year. I certainly intend to be there.

Tickets cost £10 for adults and £5 for the under 10s. Spectators are welcome free of charge, but donations will be gratefully accepted. To buy your tickets you can contact Mandy on: or telephone her on 07790 545570.

For more information about the charity Winston’s Wish visit the website at and for more information about Sue Ryder Care visit

You can visit Mandy’s website at: