Exercising made fun

For most, Zumba — an aerobic fitness program where Latin American-inspired dances are performed to music — is simply an entertaining form of exercise.

For Brenda Gabbert, a sophomore nursing major and certified instructor, Zumba is a passion.

Since she was young, Gabbert has been a dancer. Seven years ago, she tried Zumba for the first time at her local gym, which sparked her enthusiasm for aerobic fitness. Even with her busy schedule, it remains a consistency in her life.

Brenda Gabbert leads a Zumba class in the Wells Fargo Sports Complex on Nov. 15. This class has been available since August and is offered on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. Photo credit: Young Kim

“I loved it, so when I turned 18, I figured it was fitting for me to become an instructor and host my own class,” Gabbert said. “I’m here to pursue a degree just like everyone else, but I don’t ever see myself not having time for Zumba.”

Gabbert hosts classes twice a week at UAA, her first experience in teaching. The classes are free, and encourage participation despite skill level. Located in the Wells Fargo Sports Complex gym, it is available to students and staff members alike.

Not only is Zumba enjoyable, it’s also an extremely good workout. The constant movement often builds up a sweat.

“I enjoy dancing, and it was dancing while also getting a workout,” Jillian Kindred, nursing major who attends the class, said.

Aside from physical, it has other benefits as well.

“Zumba is a stress-reliever for myself and many of my students, and a fun way to get exercise and make friends,” Gabbert said.

Students in Gabbert’s class form a bond, resulting in many regulars. Kindred and a few of her friends attended multiple classes.

Much like dancing, Zumba acts as a form of personal expression.

“It’s a blast every time, and one of the things that are nice about it is each class is unique. You’ll never do the same one twice,” Gabbert said.

Zumba is a very personalized workout, giving instructors the freedom of creating their own choreography and selecting songs. Gabbert uses this liberty to mix her own choreography with what she gets from the Zumba Instructor Network, a program that provides music and accompanying moves.

“A lot of my inspiration for dancing and teaching methods comes from previous dance experience and watching other instructors,” Gabbert said. “And I chose songs that are popular or songs that I like.”

The engagement keeps students thoroughly entertained, and many keep coming back for more.

“I had no previous experience with Zumba and enjoyed the class,” Betty Bang, member of the health promotion team for the Student Health and Counseling Center, said. “It was a lot of fun, with a great instructor and friendly participants.”

Although it does include dancing, Zumba does not require students to be experts in the field. Classes are designed to be easy to follow regardless of one’s background in dance.

Gabbert’s classes are free for students and staff alike, and take place every Monday and Wednesday from 5:15 – 6:15 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex Gym.