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Spin on Zumba gets people to take a seat

| Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

Maureen Gregg has taken a variety of Zumba classes and has a background in fitness. So when the former aerobics instructor heard about Sentao, a form of Zumba that uses a chair, she wondered if it might be for “old people.”

Still, she took the class at Club One at Waterworks Mall, near Aspinwall, and was quickly convinced the class was for her.

“I know when a program is good,” said Gregg, 67, of Fox Chapel, who taught aerobics for 15 years, three of them in France. “Sentao makes use of all the major muscle groups, even though you're using a chair.

“The most fun part is that you do it to music,” she added. “It makes you (think) you're not exercising.”

The word “Sentao” is slang for “sentado,” which means “sitting” in Spanish.

“It's the natural (next) course of Zumba,” said Sentao instructor Maria McCalister, 58, of New Kensington, who is certified in several Zumba, forms, including Sentao.

She said Sentao, also called Zumba Sentao, combines strength training, resistance training and dance steps.

McAlister has taught Sentao since November at Club One facilities in the Waterworks Mall and the East End, and at the Workout Zone in Natrona Heights, where another instructor, Lin Monardo, also teaches it.

“It's really popular. It's something that's a little bit different,” said Lori Defilippi of Sarver, owner of Workout Zone.

The straight-backed chair used in Sentao is a prop and a tool in the workout. McCalister said students warm up by tapping their feet on the chair. They use dance steps to walk around it.

As the class progresses, they use it to do sit-ups and kicks to work core muscles. The chair helps students isolate muscle groups.

The chair also enables the instructor “to provide easy modifications for any age, size or fitness levels,” McCalister said.

Even younger people like Carrie Treshok, 23, of Sarver, are finding Sentao gives an effective all-around workout.

“It gives you a full Zumba experience,” said Treshok, who takes the class from McCalister at The Workout Zone. “You still get cardio, and toning through pushups and tricep dips” that target arms.

“I really love it,” she said.

Gregg, who takes other Zumba classes at Club One, said people in her Sentao class include women and men ranging in age from their 20s to their 70s.

“You don't get bored, which is why most people quit exercising,” she said.

Sandra Fischione Donovan is a freelance writer.

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