SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - More than 20 women shook their hips and showed off their dance moves at the weekly Zumba exercise class at the Health & Fitness Center here, Nov. 5.

An intricate array of music rang out as instructor Madalene Aponte led the group through a variety of global dances.

Zumba is a fusion of Latin dance and music and interval-training workouts disguised as a dance routine. Dance moves from samba, tango, merengue, salsa and flamenco, to belly dancing and hip-hop keep the rhythm moving and energy high. Music selections include both fast and slow rhythms to help tone and sculpt the body while burning fat.

Zumba has the benefits of an intense cardio workout combined with fun atmosphere of a dance party, according to Aponte.

"This kind of workout appeals to everyone," said Aponte. "It's empowering for women and a great cardio workout for men."

Although only a small handful of men attend the classes, Aponte encourages more male participation.

"The class is success driven," said Aponte. "It's designed for every type of person and the health benefits go well beyond burning calories."

Aponte explained Zumba could lower stress and build and tone muscle.

"It's the type of exercise you want to do," said family member Lani Pineda. "It's a fun and challenging class."

The challenge could be seen around the room as many tried to keep up with each dance move through the nonstop, hourlong routine. Every few minutes the rhythm of the music changed, indicating a new dance move.

"She doesn't stop," said family member Tanja Gutierrez of Aponte. "She works us and it feels great."

Zumba began in Colombia by fitness trainer and choreographer Alberto "Beto" Perez in the mid-1990s. In 1999, he and two U.S. businessmen, Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion, launched the Miami-based Zumba Fitness. It has continued to expand in popularity across the country.

Instructors and participants pump up the volume to experience the exhilarating hour of caloric-burning, body-energizing and heart-racing movements.

"You will shake your butt like you've never shook before," said Pineda.

Working out can be healthy, rewarding and beneficial in so many ways, but that doesn't mean people flock to gyms everywhere to reap the benefits. Zumba, however, is an exercise program that brings enthusiasts back for more.

"People can't help but smile in this class," said Aponte. "I mean, they're just dancing."

Zumba is offered Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 6 p.m., at Schofield's Health & Fitness Center. Call 808-655-8007.

Zumba is just one of the many fitness classes now offered for free at the Health & Fitness Center courtesy of the Army Family Covenant.