Pelham YMCA serving spicy classes

Published 3:34 pm Monday, August 30, 2010

Shown after a Zumba master class in August are (L-R) Pelham YMCA Zumba Instructors Cristina Rodriguez and Ashita Tolwani along with Group Exercise Coordinator Robyn Boatman.

“Ditch the workout . . . Join the party!”

These are not signs members expect to see at Pelham’s Shelby County Branch YMCA. However, these signs are everywhere. Is the Y converting to a cyber-café? Is YMCA Executive Director Lane Vines promoting cutting back on exercise?

Not a chance.

In fact, the “ditch the workout” signs are promoting a class offered at the YMCA called Zumba. This Latin-inspired dance fitness group exercise class draws large crowds at Pelham’s Y, offering a class option that feels more like a high-energy party than a workout.

Knowing variety is key to keeping members inspired, Vines is excited about the growing popularity of Zumba.

“We had over 90 people participate in a Zumba master class one Saturday in August. People love Zumba and I’ve got to feed this craze that’s gotten so many people moving,” she said.

Zumba Fitness Party is a trademarked international corporation that has merged the concept of fun and fitness.

“A large part of what makes the Pelham Zumba classes so special are the instructors. Instructors Cristina Rodriguez and Ashita Tolwani are contagious with their enthusiasm and energy,” said YMCA member Patty Cooper.

Most cues are nonverbal in Zumba class. Watching the instructors is easy because they are having so much fun.

“Zumba master music is upbeat and exotic. The dance moves are simple so that people feel good about themselves,” Tolwani said.

“Zumba is fun. Being part of a class motivates me to work harder,” said Pelham resident and Y member Dawn Adamson.

Of course, it’s great that these exercisers are having fun, but are they seeing any results?

“I hadn’t participated in routine, consistent exercise for almost 10 years. Now, I’m addicted. I have lost 15 pounds since December, my entire frame of reference and feelings about exercise have done a 180. Zumba has given me my life back,” Cooper said.

Pelham’s YMCA offers many Zumba classes weekly. Separate kids’ Zumbatomic classes are coming for kids who want to participate in Zumba. Another Zumba master class is planned for Friday, Sept. 24, with Zumba Education Specialist, Erick Santana. Plans for a Zumbaween celebration are in the works for October. Check the Y’s website for details.

“Nothing comes close to Zumba for getting exercisers out of their ruts and back to the joy of movement,” said instructor Cristina Rodriguez.

Connie Nolen can be reached by e–mail at