Zumba phenomenon on the rise

Instructor Merri Gwin leads a Zumba class. (Contributed)

By LAURA BROOKHART / Community Columnist

Are you one of the few remaining holdouts who has yet to experience the Zumba phenomenon?

Instructor Merri Gwin wants to reassure you that no matter what your fitness level is, a Zumba class can suit your fitness needs and your style.

Even if you don’t think you have a style.

“Zumba is a dance-inspired fitness class, but you do not have to have any dance ability. I tell everyone, pick your flavor and make it your own,” says Gwin, an instructor of aerobics classes for 20 years and personal trainer who teaches five weekly Zumba classes at Snap Fitness on Shelby County 52.

“The folks at Snap Fitness have been very welcoming in incorporating this program. We have a lot of camaraderie in the classes and people feel encouraged when they come to try out a class,” she said.

Gwin points out that Zumba will tone your body almost immediately, whether or not you initially lose weight.

But she knows one student who has lost 11 pounds and four dress sizes in just three months, and others have seen similar results.

“I see more ladies in the 50-70 year-old range trying my classes. And here, I have yet to have anyone just throw their hands up and say ‘I just can’t do this,’” Gwin adds.

If obesity is an issue, the class can be adapted using props or a chair. Gwin says Zumba is body-friendly and students have fewer injuries as it can be modified to your personal level.

Student Rhonda Lucas said, “I had become bored using the treadmill and elliptical machines, and I decided that the Zumba class looked too fun not to try.”

“I’m admittedly not very coordinated,” Lucas continued. “And I thought I was going to die after the first class. Now, after two months, if I don’t make my Zumba classes, my body misses it.”

“I love teaching and I love my students,” Gwin says. “I have taught water aerobics, step, kick boxing, Tae-Bo, when it was the rage, and Boot Camp, plus Total Body Conditioning. I took Zumba for a year and got my certification two years ago. It has re-invigorated my love of teaching. I could teach Zumba everyday and not grow bored with it.”

Zumba Corporation updates their instructors with new music and new choreography on a regular basis.

Gwin has even persuaded her 13-year-old twin boys and 8-year-old son to learn the moves.

Soon, Gwin also plans to get her Zumba Atomic certification and hopes to offer a class for 8- to 13-year-olds over the summer.

Merri Gwin’s Zumba classes are held Monday at 9:30 a.m. and 6:15 p.m., Wednesday at 5:45 p.m., and Saturday at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Laura Brookhart can be reached by email at labro16@yahoo.com.