Story by Clara Firtos, Contributing writer
Zumba is an aerobic fitness practice that attracts anybody who’s looking to make working out a fun experience. The class mainly follows Latin dance and music.
Belinda Woods is a Latin Zumba instructor at Murray State. She was originally born in the Philippines but moved to the U.S. in 1973. Woods has been teaching Zumba for five years in Murray. Her love for fitness got her interested in Zumba.
“I was watching TV and they all had Latin-based movements, which looked like a lot of fun,” Woods said.
A few of her Latin Zumba students have gone on to teach Zumba themselves. She believes Zumba attracts students because of the easy hand-eye coordination.
“My experience with Zumba was fun because of all the crazy dance moves,” said Katie Byrnes, senior from Memphis, Tennessee.
Byrnes said Woods’ Zumba class always has a fun, warm and welcoming environment.
“Everybody is almost always a beginner, so we’ll gradually start by getting the hands going by the time we got the footwork done,” Woods said. “And that way it won’t be so stressful on my students.”
Woods reminds her students throughout Zumba that it’s important to breathe, to enjoy yourself and to cheer. Cheering helps the students to relax and to feel proud of themselves for accomplishing their moves.
“As people, we love what we’re familiar with,” Woods said. “Zumba is a dance that students grow familiar with after each lesson.”
Byrnes is new to Zumba. She said it was easy for her to catch on to the different moves through the beat of the music.
“I do warn my students to be careful if they hear a song out in public,” Woods said. “I don’t want them out in Kroger doing the moves.”
On a regular class day, Woods has 20 students, but the biggest class she has ever taught included 150 people. Occasionally, Woods will also teach a Zumba class at her local parish, St. Leo Catholic Church.
“My favorite part of her class was seeing Father Eugene dance,” Brynes said. “Sometimes, he would not do them well and he would laugh at himself.”
Woods encourages her students to bring their friends. She believes Zumba is a fun physical fitness for everyone, not just college students.
“It’s important to remember to just have fun no matter how dumb you look or feel,” Byrnes said.
Woods said if students are interested in taking Zumba, all they have to do is walk in. The Wellness Center and Carr Health Building offer classes for students. All students need is a good attitude, a willingness to learn, a water bottle and a towel.
Woods teaches her Zumba class at the Wellness Center at 4:50 p.m. every Monday. Other Zumba classes at Wellness are offered at 7:30 p.m. every Thursday, at 4 p.m. on Fridays and at 4 p.m. on Saturdays.