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Fitness instructor thinks latest craze has lasting appeal

Photo: Kelsey Sherman

As Hannah Pink entered the Bell Center on Tuesday, Jan. 18, she walked by the front desk only to hear the worker say, “You’re in for it.” And she certainly was.

Over 75 people waited for Pink to walk through the doors of the multi-purpose room, eager to start the new and unique program that has become a worldwide phenomenon: Zumba Fitness.

“Ditch the workout and join the party.” The Latin-inspired dance workout program is bringing something new to Drake University by encouraging people to join the “biggest dance party in the world.”

Latin, hip-hop, step, merengue and salsa are a few of the dances one can learn from Zumba fitness. It combines choreography in ways that are different than the traditional dance classes.

The hour-long courses are new to the Drake Group Exercise schedule this semester and have proved extremely popular. Some group have capitalized on the craze, as the Feb. 4 Zumbathon hosted by the Bell Center brought in a crowd of well over 100 people and raised around $550 for the American Heart Association.

Pink had never heard of Zumba until this year and had no dance background going into the training but always loved working out.

“I was worried about gaining the Freshman 15 last year, so I did a lot of the group exercises, and really enjoyed them,” Pink said.

This year, she wanted to bring something different to Drake. Zumba was the answer.

The 10-year-old fitness program has over 10 million members in 110 countries. Founded in 2001, Zumba means “to move fast and have fun.” That is exactly what its participants do.
While it may not consist of lifting weights to tone the body or running on the elliptical to raise the heart rate, Zumba adds different aspects from every fitness program. There are lunges and squats involved, and the dancers are constantly moving, which raises the heart rate. But don’t expect a break, because there aren’t any.

“There were so many people the first class, there was hardly any room to move,” Pink said.

First-year students Elizabeth Robinson and Kelly Diekemper were not surprised by the amount of people that attended the first class.
“With fire code, I don’t even know if it was legal for us all to be in there,” Diekemper said.

Diekemper is a self-proclaimed “work out junkie” and never misses an opportunity to work out. Zumba has helped her see a different side of exercise.
“It combines two of my favorite things– dancing and working out,” Diekemper said. “It’s perfect. Anyone can try it.”

“It’s just like one big dance party,” Robinson said.

Robinson and Diekemper took belly dancing last semester and wanted something new for this semester. They are so dedicated to the class, one could have spotted them, along with 20 others, braving the blizzard last Tuesday on the way to attend Zumba.

“A blizzard wasn’t going to stop us from going,” Diekemper said. “We’re obsessed.”

Dancer or not, this class attracts those of every shape and size, and various dancing backgrounds.

“Instead of the traditional classes, I wanted to teach something that appealed to all demographics–students, professors, everybody,” Pink said.

Sophomore Michael Riebel had never danced in his life, but Pink persuaded him and his friends to attend the first class. Although he wasn’t sure what the class would entail, the last thing he expected was to actually enjoy it.

“It may not sound like a ‘masculine’ class, but some of the guys here were athletes in high school and loved it, including me,” Riebel said.

Riebel is one of four guys that have made an appearance at Zumba in the past three weeks. Although none of them have dance backgrounds, they all enjoy the class.

Riebel credited Pink for the difficulty of the class, saying she made it easy on the beginners by explaining all the moves before they start dancing to the music.  The hardest part for him, though, is working the hips.

“There are a lot of hip movements,“ Riebel said. “We try to do it, but it’s definitely not fluid. I probably make a fool of myself.”

But Riebel is not alone.  The class is held in the multi-purpose room, which is full of mirrors, so everybody can see everybody. Dancers spend just as much time laughing at one another as they do dancing.

“It’s a great way to mix up workout, dance and fun,” Pink said.

With a big turnout from the beginning, Pink is not worried about people losing interest.

“I think it’s always going to be successful. At least I hope so,” Pink said.

Zumba classes are held on Tuesdays from 7-8 p.m. at the Bell Center in the multi-purpose room.


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