It’s a New Year’s tradition that most of us could do without…putting on those extra pounds. This usually triggers an outpouring of resolutions to get back in shape in time for spring. Here in Kingston there is a mind-boggling selection of fitness programs, but one of the most popular and effective fitness classes is the Latin inspired dance fitness program called Zumba. Any form of lively dancing is aerobic-intensive, but for fun and fitness, absolutely nothing beats Zumba. A lot of people go to Zumba programs who don’t even need to lose weight, just because they are fun social occasions.
Zumba was discovered accidentally–literally. In 1986 Columbian dance instructor and choreographer Alberto Perez was scheduled to lead an aerobics class and he forgot his aerobic music tapes, so he used the music tapes that he had in his car, which were primarily salsa and meringue. The results were so positive that he incorporated Latin dance into the rest of his fitness routines. He came to America in 2001, and brought his infectious dance mix with him. As it has presently evolved, Zumba combines elements of almost every Latin dance form from the chachacha and the tango through flamenco and mambo, while mixing in some hip-hop, some belly dancing, and some resistance training. An average 150 pound person can expect to burn about 535 calories an hour dancing Zumba–and have a lot of fun doing it! And entire fashion industry has sprung up creating clothing and accessories as lively as the music! Kingston is a hotbed of Zumbulation, with a class in every neighborhood and for every fitness level. Best of all, we need no dance training or talent to step up to Zumba–once our bodies are in motion they will tend to remain in motion!
Over at the Cornell Street Studios at 168 Cornell Street, Cat Schoch and Alicia Bailey lead classes every Wednesday and Thursday afternoon from 5:30 to 6:30 in the afternoon. There’s no membership to buy, but a 10-class card offers a savings. During the month of January, Cat is offering a special! Get to the studio early, at about 5:15 and enjoy a free 15 minute workshop with Cat offering helpful tips for everyone from newcomers through experts. Cat has been teaching Zumba since 2007, and Alicia has been a certified instructor for over a year, and also offers Zumba for kids.
A few blocks down the railroad tracks at 15 Railroad Avenue , the Center for Creative Educations is one of the locations offering Zumba classes with Bryant ”Drew” Andrews, Kingston’s own Zumba superstar. Drew was the driving force behind getting hundreds of people into Kingston’s Deitz Memorial Stadium last summer to “Let’s Move Kingston” an initiative involving the Ulster County Health Department, the Kingston school district and youth organizations that is part of the national push to get the next generation of children away from their TVs and computers. He is particularly fond of Zumba because the dance music from around the world makes it community oriented. The focus of Zumba, he notes, is not about dance but to keep us moving, to exhibit positive energy, and to let go of our inhibitions. Drew has classes at the Center for Creative Education Tuesday nights from 7 to 9 pm and Saturday morning from 9:30 to 10:30.
Drew will also be leading a class in “Intense Zumba” called Kick It Up A Notch, at the Kingston YMCA at the corner of Pine Grove Avenue and Broadway. The first class is January 7, from 1 to 2:30 in the afternoon. He holds regular Zumba classes at the Kingston YMCA every other Sunday at 10:30am. These are only a few of the many Zumba classes offered at the Kingston YMCA. There are six classes taking place every weekday, and special Zumba Gold for Seniors. Memberships in the YMCA are not required, and the $10 drop-in class fee also entitles participants to use the other amenities offered by the YMCA such as the whirlpool and track.
In Historic Uptown Kingston. Signature Fitness operates a bright, friendly intimate small gym which offers, in addition to a full range of exercise equipment, two convenient Zumba Classes a week with instructor Toni Hedges, who has been a Zumba instructor for 5 years, and an exercise instructor for 20 years. The classes are Wednesday at 6 pm and Saturday at 9:45 a.m.. Membership is not a requirement for the classes, which are suitable for all fitness levels, and the drop-in rate is only $7.
Not only does Zumba burn those calories that were so easy to add during December, but it tones the entire body, and encourages aerobic fitness–and its fun! There are seven different levels of participation and one of them is right for “every body” and every age group. In addition, the next time we have an opportunity to get out on a dance floor, we can bust some impressive moves!