Whether that’s the official mantra or not, when participating in Zumba, those are the words I live by. And believe me, the sweat comes easy enough. With beats that would move the hips of even the most uncoordinated and shy, there won’t be any problem letting your cares slip away as your dance your way
My introduction to Zumba came three years ago on an old naval base in Antarctica. No joke. I hadn’t heard anything about it, but the words “dance” and “music” were enough for me to give it a go. A background in college show choir had left a void after graduation that I needed to fill. Here was my chance! Since then I’ve kept my eyes open for opportunities to join a class and relive the glory days of busting out moves. When I was doing some research on animals at Paws and Claws Humane Society on Rochester, I found out they were holding a Zumbathon to raise money for their cause. I had to go.
There were some key differences to this class that separated it from any I’d gone to before. First of all, there were dogs and cats outside the building craving your attention. Once you got past them, you paid, signed a waiver, and were given raffle tickets! (I would go on to win two tickets for free meals…anyone want to go?) Then inside you had to walk through the dance studio to a large, dark room full of women. I was the only male present. Though this may have intimidated mere mortal men, I feigned nonchalance and danced in front anyways. Finally, the key difference. While most Zumba classes typically last an hour…tonight we would be moving for a full three hours. I was glad I brought my water.
So how did all of this come to be? There really were a lot of players involved, between coordinating, staffing, volunteering, hosting, prize supplying, etc. As far as I know, the story goes back to Melissa Rivero. A woman who in her own words is, “someone with a soft spot for animals” realized that she could utilize skills from her other love (Zumba) to benefit these poor animals. She started volunteering with Paws and Claws back in 2006, and as she told us all at the Zumbathon has taken a few of those animals into her own home. She coordinated between site hosts Empowered Wellness, owned by Emily Coates-Watkins and Katie Button-Swenson, and CrossFit Credence, owned by Dave and Allison Timm so we could have a location. She found businesses that donated tons of awesome prizes for the participants.
In the end, everyone came out as a winner. Many left with fun door prizes. Others made new friends. All of us left a few calories short of what we started with. The biggest winner of all, and the reason we were there, was the Paws and Claws Humane Society. As a group we were able to raise over $1,000 for them and their cause. Not to mention, I got a few fun photos, and the scoop on where to go to find Zumba in Rochester. Below is a list of the instructors from that night, and where they teach. All were amazing and I look forward to dancing with them again.
Empowered Wellness: Emily Coates-Watkins, Katie Button-Swenson, *Shalina Dean
Workout World: Melissa Rivero, Jaime Smoody, Jennifer Kanz, Stephanie Neher, Lisa Butrum, *Shalina Dean, *Carol Burken
Rochester Family YMCA: Robin Hoelzle, *Carol Burken
Rochester Atheletic Club: Pilar Duque
Extreme Fitness, Kasson: * Carol Burken
(*Denotes teaching at two locations)
So if you’ve never tried it or you’re looking for a group of people to join up with, look no further than Rochester. Just pick a location, look up the schedules, and get your dance on. Maybe I’ll see you there!