By Ryan Nichols ’12
Rarely is there an idea, concept, or craze that starts from one single person and spreads to the masses in a frenzy.
Snuggies, Beanie Babies, Twilight are some example. Now Zumba is sweeping the nation by storm and the Keuka Storm has joined the bandwagon.
“I love to just dance around, so I thought it would be a fun way to exercise,” said Jessamine Qualman ’13. “Zumba is a fun way to get people who may be intimidated by the gym, or who don’t know exactly what to do, moving and exercising. It is a fun, organized way to get people active and bring them together with a common goal.”
Zumba has its roots in Latin dance and fitness programs. The originator, fitness instructor Alberto “Beto” Perez, created Zumba in the 1990s in his native country of Columbia. One day he forgot the aerobics music for a fitness class and all he had was his traditional Latin salsa and merengue. So, he had to improvise.
Keuka got caught up in the Zumba craze last semester when classes taught by Billie Rizboskin ’14, began. Rizboskin started Zumba in her hometown of Waverly two years ago.
Rizboskin met with Director of Campus Recreation and Aquatics Jon Accardi and offered to instruct the class herself.
“I love Zumba; I didn’t care if I was not paid,” she said. “I just wanted classes.”
Apparently, so did many others.
“I was shocked. Back home there is generally about 20 people who participate. The first two Mondays [at Keuka] we had more than 100 people attend. When I started the music, people began cheering,” she said.
“Most schools offer group exercise programs. We want to offer options and Zumba is a stepping stone for finding out what interests the Keuka population,” says Accardi.
Until the recent addition of the auxiliary gym, Keuka did not have the space to do offer group exercise programs.
According to Accardi, he has received many e-mails about Zumba and all have been positive.
“People are excited about it and want more classes offered – apparently, two are not enough,” he explained, ” and everyone loves Billie.”
Accardi said that a survey about fitness programs sent to members of the campus community revealed that Zumba was the most sought-after fitness class. Others that were mentioned: yoga, turbo kick, boot camp, and pi-yo, a blend of Pilates, yoga and toning movements.
The majority of people taking Zumba classes are women, said Accardi, although some males have taken part. Zumba has attracted students who do not participate in intramurals and faculty and staff as well.
“I was thrilled it was being offered on campus because I live locally and it worked out to be a good time,” said Visiting Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy Holly Preston. “I had been craving an outlet for relieving the stress of being a new professor. Zumba is a great workout and a lot of fun.”
Preston believes that more faculty and staff staff will get caught up in the Zumba craze.
“There were some new people who tried it toward the end of the semester and plan on continuing in the spring. I know of others who would like to participate, though scheduling is an issue,” said Preston, who would like to see an introductory Zumba session for faculty and staff.
Accardi and Rizboskin are hoping to offer offer at least three classes this semester. For now, classes are held Mondays and Wednesdays, 6- 7 p.m., Accardi said.
A Zumba-thon for charity is also in the works, according to Rizboskin.
“Zumba-thons are when people dance for a certain amount of time, and they raise money for a variety of charities, for example Party in Pink, and Party Hearty (heart disease),” she explained. “You can combine with vendors and hold raffles or auctions. I’m thinking of doing one for three hours.”
Zumba classes will be held every Monday and Wednesday at 6pm in the Auxiliary Gym at Keuka College.