TOWANDA - "Zumbaholics" across Bradford County came out to the JFK Hall at St. Agnes School in Towanda Sunday for an opportunity to work out with internationally acclaimed Zumba instructor Stephanie Masceri.

Zumba, a Latin inspired dance workout, was created in 2001 by Alberto Perez and has since experienced a surge in popularity across the globe, according to Masceri.

"Zumba is about the love of dancing with a fun and high energy workout. … We want to have fun and offer something that is not intimidating," she explained.

Organizer of the event, local Zumba instructor Jodie Brandt, put together the special day to benefit the Towanda Fire Department. Her decision to donate the proceeds to the fire department came from the tragic house fire which claimed the life of 2-year-old John D. Yoder in February.

"I wanted to do something. I began volunteering for the fire company and now we are doing this," she explained.

Brandt said she asked Masceri, whose fiance lives in the Towanda area, if she would be willing to lead a class to benefit the cause. Masceri instantly accepted the invitation.

Masceri, a Bucks County native, began teaching Zumba classes in October 2006 in gyms owned by her father. She said the classes instantly took off and her new found passion has taken her across the globe as an instructor. In the past, Masceri has taught Zumba in Sweden, England, France and Italy in addition to training Zumba instructors in India.

Towanda Fire Department President Tom Franklin said he is extremely thankful for Brandt's decision to donate the money towards the fire department, as a recent chicken barbecue fundraiser saw a somewhat lackluster turnout.

"I'm very happy with the turnout so far today and I want to thank Jodie, Stephanie and all their people who made this possible," Franklin said.

Brandt said the total amount raised was just over $800 for the day.

She went on to thank Hurley's Fresh Market, Tops Friendly Markets, Flynn Beverage, R.C. Welding Supply, Copy Source and DJ Bob Brenner for donating to the event.

For those interested in local Zumba classes, Brandt instructs workouts on Monday and Wednesday evenings at the Towanda Fire Department and Friday nights and Saturday mornings at The Edge Fitness in Towanda. More information on Brandt's classes can be found at jodiebrandt.zumba.com.

"The classes are meant to be for everyone. Even if you feel like you have two left feet you can still do Zumba," Brandt said.

Tim Zyla can be reached at (570) 265-1634; or e-mail: tzyla@thedailyreview.com.