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Looking for a calorie burner? Try salsa dancing

MICHAEL SMART / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Dancing sound Latmusic Marilyn Mattei South ElgAntonio Bueno Elgmove rythym salsJJ Finnegan's West Dundee. Every

MICHAEL SMART / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Dancing to the sound of Latin music, Marilyn Mattei of South Elgin and Antonio Bueno of Elgin move to the rythym of salsa at JJ Finnegan's in West Dundee. Every Saturday night tables are moved and lights are dimmed for Finnegan's patrons to learn and dance to latin flavor.

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Salsa at the Zoo

6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 29 and Sept. 26

Cafe at Wild Things, Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark.

Aug. 29: Celia Cruz Tribute Band, instruction by Saladeen, Chicago International Salsa Congress

Sept. 26: Jesus Enrique y Su Orchesta, instruction by Victor Monroy from Latin Rhythms

Cost: $20 for non-members, $17 for zoo members 

Tickets, info:, event presenters.

SummerDance Chicago

Grant Park, Spirit of Music
Garden, 601 S. Michigan

Dance lessons: 6 to 7 p.m.; 7:30-9:30 p.m. dancing Aug. 31

Papo Santiago y Orquesta Infraverd; instruction by Arthur Murray Dance Center

Updated: August 27, 2013 10:47PM

For some, going to a gym to stay fit isn’t their thing. They prefer to burn calories and build muscle with spins, twirls and dance combos. For them, staying fit means salsa dancing.

“Your body is constantly moving, and your heart rate is up. Especially when you dance from slow to fast tempo songs, it can feel like those moments of sprints in your circuit training,” says Sol Solis, owner/instructor of Latin Rhythms Academy of Dance & Performance, 210 N. Racine. “Salsa dancing gives you a full body cardio workout ... for all those women out there dancing for hours in their heels, I would also add it gives you a good leg workout as well, (i.e. quads, calves and your gluteus maximus).”

That full cardio workout’s not bad at burning calories, either. The average adult burns somewhere between 400 and 480 in an hour of salsa dancing, according to

Maggie Garcia has been salsa dancing two to three times a week for years. “It’s for everyone — young, old — those who need to get in shape and those who are in shape,” the Chicagoan says. “Have you seen the bodies on professional salsa dancers? They’re amazing.”

Want to give it a try? Lincoln Park Zoo has two more nights of salsa dancing, Aug. 29 and Sept. 26. Live music, dancing and instruction. And SummerDance Chicago does salsa Aug. 31.

To paraphrase Shakira, hips don’t lie about the workout salsa dancing provides.

Chad Hunter is a local freelance writer.

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