Encino dancer kicks it up Zumba-style at Pilate Sports Center

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judy-proffer90BY JUDITH A. PROFFER

She busted our her best “Thriller” moves alongside Jennifer Garner in “Thirteen Going On Thirty” and was a hoofer on “Cedric the Entertainer Presents.”  When she’s not dancing with the likes of Carmen Electra on the big screen or touring with 98 Degrees, professional dancer and Pilates instructor Kadee Sweeney kicks up the energy to stratospheric heights with her twice weekly, high energy, sweat-inducing, rhythm fused (and did I mention wildly fun?) Zumba classes at Pilates Sports Center in Encino.


Kaydee Sweeney

Zumba is a booty shaking, arms waving, cardio awakening hybrid of salsa, meringue and other Latin moves created in the mid 90s by Colombian native Beto Perez. Legend has it the celebrity trainer forgot his music as he was about to teach an aerobics class one day and grabbed the only CD he had handy – some Latin fusion tracks. The new moves caught on quickly and Perez soon became the dance darling of South America.  Ten years ago Perez brought Zumba to the U.S., partnering with savvy entrepreneurs who hyped the workout with infomercials – today, Zumba classes are taught at over 40,000 locations in 75 countries.

Sweeney, a dancer since she was a little girl (“I would wear tap shoes when we would go out to dinner and would dance all over the place”), discovered Zumba through a friend and was attracted to the “open minded, non judgmental” nexus of the class. Unlike the Fox Trot, Viennese Waltz and other perfect and perfunctory moves you might see on “Dancing With The Stars,” Sweeney’s Zumba is approachable (students range from 20 to 70), practical (no partner required) and flexible (don’t be self-conscious, just dance!). And in addition to the Latin music that is the core of Zumba, she incorporates hip hop, belly dancing and other fancy dances you might actually put to use at a party, wedding, club or bat mitzvah. (“If you can move your shoulders to the beat with a little attitude and a definite sense of rhythm, you’ll do just fine in a club” offers Sweeney.)


Zumba is a booty shaking, arms waving, cardio awakening hybrid of salsa, meringue and other Latin moves created in the mid 90s by Colombian native Beto Perez. Photo courtesy of Zumba

Off the charts music and cunning choreography is an essential part of what makes Sweeney’s class a standout. One minute you’re jumping and playing some radical air guitar along with Pink’s “So What,” another you’re channeling your inner diamond ring festooned Beyonce while strutting to “All The Single Ladies” before launching into a grinding “Womanizer” with Britney Spears. In between she’ll toss in some playful Cha Cha, whip up some meringue and serve up some sensual salsa before ripping it up with some Hip Hop and songs created especially for the Zumba craze.  Aretha and JLo are also on Sweeney’s playlist, and she’ll even consider requests from students. “I will only teach to music that moves and inspires me. Some of my students will bring me their choices of music and I will go through and listen to all of them and then choose which songs I am inspired to dance to. As a dancer, when you listen to the music the beat will get into your body …and it will just start to move. When I’m teaching is when the best choreography will come out.”

Sweeney wears her love of teaching on her sleeve and encourages her students to love themselves, love dance and love the music.  She offers great assurance that her class is not a class just for dancers, walking newbies through more intricate moves with first baby steps care. “I invite people to come with a big smile and open attitude” she says of her classes. “And if you don’t have any of those when you come, hopefully you will leave the class with those qualities.”

Kadee Sweeney teaches Zumba at Pilates Sports Center in Encino Wednesday mornings at 9:30 and Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. Classes are $18 each or $150 for ten. Pilates Sports Center is located at 16430 Ventura Blvd. #100, Encino, CA. (818) 788-8112; pilatessportscenter.com

Judith A. Proffer is Vice-Chair of entertainment/media company Meteor 17, where she oversees creative development for film, television & literary projects and charitable initiatives. Co-founder and former Executive Editor of Sun Community Newspapers, she was publisher of LA Weekly and OC Weekly and is currently writing “How to Love Your Dog: A Timeless Compendium of Information and Inspiration” for her Huqua Press.

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.