Dance class offers Latin flavor

Jessie Marks

Senior psychology major Sharonda Pritchett has been taking the Zumba fitness class all summer. The Student Recreation and Wellness Center offers Zumba two times a week during the summer. TRACY TUCHOLSKI | SUMMER KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

Laughter and hand-clapping could be heard as students shook their hips and moved their feet to the Latin rhythms that filled the air.

These students weren’t at a Latin dance party – they were participating in the new ZUMBA group fitness class offered at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center.

Judy Watkins, group fitness and instructional program manager at the rec center, describes Zumba as a dance-infused fitness class that incorporates aerobic exercise and toning exercise through the alternation of fast and slow rhythms.

“Zumba is more free-spirited than typical group classes,” Watkins said. “Your inhibitions are challenged in a good way.”

Zumba was created by Colombia native Beto Perez in the mid-1990s. According to the official Zumba Web site, Perez stumbled upon the concept of mixing group fitness and Latin rhythms when he forgot the music for an aerobics class he was teaching. Perez improvised by teaching the class to the beat of a Latin music tape he had in his car and Zumba was born.

Renata Rado, a graduate student studying sports and recreation management, teaches Zumba classes at the rec center. Rado, a Brazilian native, said Zumba is similar to group classes she taught while living in Brazil because it mixes dance steps with fitness.

Try a ZUMBA class

Beginners ZUMBA

Wednesday 12:15 p.m. to 1 p.m.


Monday 7 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.

More ZUMBA classes will be

added for Fall 2008

“Zumba is a class that you can mix everything – salsa, merengue, cumbia, belly dancing, samba and tango,” Rado said. “You really feel the music.”

Watkins said the ZUMBA class at the rec center is geared toward anyone interested in a cross-cultural exercise experience. Students do not need dance background in order to participate.

“It has Latin flavor, but the steps are really simple so anyone can do them,” Watkins said. “It’s a culture – it is really upbeat and fun.”

For students who want to learn the Zumba basics, the rec center also offers a Zumba class for beginners. Beginners ZUMBA is also for participants who are new to exercising or those recovering from an injury.

“Honestly, anyone can come to this class,” Watkins said. “It is for anyone at any fitness level.”

The cost to students is $3 for a single Zumba class, $30 for a 12-punch pass and $40 for unlimited classes throughout the semester.

Students who are unsure if this new fitness craze is for them or want to learn more about Zumba without making a financial commitment can try the classes for free during demo week, which runs Sept. 2-8.

“Sometimes it is so hard to find something you really love doing,” Watkins said. “It’s important to get out there and just try it.”

Contact student recreation and wellness reporter Jessie Marks at [email protected].