Catherine Vedder Zumba
Credit © Vedder

Zumba is a popular Latin dance-based fitness class that can burn 600+ calories a session. Learning French is a constant for many who attend online Alliance Française French classes or use other French learning resources. Put them together and it’s a perfect complement for practicing French and helping eliminate those COVID pounds.

Catherine Vedder– who’s been a certified Zumba instructor for six years– came up with the idea to teach an online Zumba class in French. (She’s also worked as a substitute French and Physical Education teacher at a private school in Honolulu and soon to be an online French teacher at Alliance Française Hawai’i.) She first did a video Zumba class (en français) for the online edition of a Canadian magazine for seniors. Vedder mentioned the class to Josette Marsh, President of Alliance Française of Hawai’i and President of the Federation des Alliances Françaises USA (AFUSA), who encouraged her to do a video Zumba class en français for AFUSA.

Et voilà. Vedder created a 30-minute Zumba lesson that was posted to the AFUSA and Alliance Française Hawai’i websites where it’s available for all Alliance Française members to view and experience now through December 31, 2020. It’s also available for any U.S. Alliance Française chapter to put on their website for members to see and use.

Zumba Cat
Credit © Vedder

Called Zumba en français, it’s a fun class that keeps the viewer moving using Latin dance steps while listening to Zumba–approved music like Mamacita by J Rey Sol featuring Ozuna; El Amor El Amor by Zumba Fitness; and a variety of popular songs and urban Latin singers (such as Jason Derulo and Daddy Yankee) that keep the Zumba beat.

Since Vedder teaches five Zumba classes a week from her home since the coronavirus closed the gyms, she needs to love the song even though she rotates a lot of music. “If the beat is good, I go for it.”

Now for the vocabulary lesson. (These are only a few of the French words in the Zumba class.) Vedder claims she talks more than the average Zumba instructor, but she wants to make her class fair for all levels of participants. If a student is new to a class, instruction about the movement is important. Bougeons. Let’s move.

Zumba Cat
Catherine Vedder, the instructor. Credit © Vedder

A lot of the bougez is la gauche (left) or droite (right), devant (forward) or derrière (back), en haut (up) and en bas (down) and poussez (push.) A lot of the poussez is for les bras (your arms) and les jambes (legs) and ultimately everyone will be covered in la transpiration (sweat.) Vedder recommends having une bandana to tie around your head to control la transpiration along with une serviette (towel) to mop up where la bandana can’t.

Vedder also often says ecoutez votre corps to encourage all participants to listen to their body and modify movements if they need to be safe. Les genoux (knees) l’épaules (shoulders) and l’énergie (energy) are important indicators of a participant putting too much zoom in Zumba.

The location of Vedder’s Zumba video is her living room in Honolulu, Hawai’i. The patio is in the background and her son and daughter often help with the technology details. Setting up lighting, the computer camera and managing sound can be as complicated as a movie set, so it helps to have someone on the other side of the camera to make it work well and help ensure quality images.

Zumba Cat
Trixie the dog will photo bomb classes once in a while. Credit © Vedder

“It was weird in the beginning to do a Zumba class by yourself in front of a computer, but I got used to it,” said Vedder. “Like acting, you have to make the camera your friend. I like to come close, make faces and I scream ‘whoop, whoop’ a lot.”

Vedder also has a black Lab-mix dog named Trixie who sometimes photo bombs her classes. Trixie mostly stays in Vedder’s daughter’s room, but photo bombs do happen.

This class is the first Zumba en français class for Alliance Française and Vedder hopes to “spread the Zumba love.” She also hopes that anyone enjoying her combination Zumba/French online class tips her (the link to PayPal is available at the bottom of the class landing page) as that’s the only way she is paid. In these tough times, as we try to contain the coronavirus and our COVID pounds, if this class that uses both our mind and body shows results, it’s worth providing a safe PayPal tip. On y va!

Zumba Cat
Credit © Vedder
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Martha Sessums is the France Today Ambassador for San Francisco. Intrigued by France since her first stroll along the Seine, Martha and her husband often travel to Paris to explore the city and beyond. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, delighting in its strong Francophone and French culture community. She was a high-tech public relations executive and currently runs a non-profit continuing education organization.

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