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Philly's Phinest Profiles Brooke Blair- Zumba Master!

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I'm sure by now you have all heard of Zumba- the latest exercise craze hitting the tri-state area by storm. If you're looking for the premier Brooke Blair (right) is taking Zumba to the next level.Zumba instructor, then you probably need to look no further than Brooke Blair. Blair, a graduate of Holy Cross High School in Delran, New Jersey and Albright College in Reading, has been teaching Zumba for almost three years. With Zumba's buzz getting bigger and bigger, Blair strives daily to redefine the Zumba program.

"Zumba is an exercise class..but not a typical exercise class," explains Blair. "Zumba uses Latin an International themes, music, and moves for a fun and effective workout. Within the class we dance to Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, Reggaeton, Belly dance, hip hop- etc. And one can burn from 500-1000 calories. I started taking Zumba 3 years ago a gym where there were only exercise classes offered including my 20/20/20 class (20 minutes cardio, 20 min sculpting, 20 min various workouts).

"This class was extremely popular. I actually approached Stacy Covelli (group fitness coordinator of the Cherry Hill Health and Raquet Club) and asked her if she ever heard of Zumba and if they were interested in class. I was basically panhandling for classes because I was originally teaching in Gloucester County and Zumba hadn't had the "buzz" yet. (This was almost 3 years ago). She heard of it, but didn't know anyone who taught the class so she gave me a chance and I have been teaching there since July 2007. I fell IN LOVE with Zumba and decided to teach since I spoke Spanish, I was a fitness instructor, and I LOVED to dance; so the three were a perfect combination, and the rest was history."

While Zumba brings Blair a great deal of personal satisfaction as she helps those improve their physical health, she also uses it as therapy in her personal life as well.

"The middle of my first year as an Zumba instructor, my son suffered a traumatic brain injury which left permanent and severe damage, I watched my marriage fail because of that. So I use Zumba as an escape and the music and my choreography as a journey into the world I wish I could be in since I deal with so much responsibility in the 'real world'. So I am honestly feeling the music and that helps me put together what others say are great classes."

It seems that Blair's hard work, time, and effort over the last three years have indeed paid off. Her class won Best of Philly in 2008 (Philadelphia Magazine) for Cherry Hill Health and Raquet Club (Blair is trying to win in the magazine's fitness category of 2010 for Zumba or group exercise).

She has appeared on the 10! Show, and was also recently featured on CBS3/CW57 Eyewitness News for her class at Versa Fit Studio  in Voorhees, NJ. She has lofty goals for Zumba, and she plans on making them a reality sooner than later.

"My ultimate goal with Zumba is to keep it from being a fad. I want people always wanting more, I want people to be physically and mentally healthy and have fun getting there. My inspiration is Beto Perez, who is Zumba's creator. Beto finds joy knowing that people's lives have changed through the Zumba program. He wants Zumba to take over the fitness world and so far he's he's making his dream and his passion come true. If I can be an aid to that, then that makes me extremely happy."

Brooke teaches Zumba at Cherry Hill Health and Raquet Club, Versa Fit Studio, Ripa Center for Women in Voorhees, NJ (through Cooper Hospital), William Rhorer Fitness Center (Voorhees)- for specific times, go to www.zumba.com  and click find instructors and type in Brooke's name!

You can reach Brooke at zumbabrooke@yahoo.com and to see her in action, click HERE

You can contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com