IT IS OFTEN difficult to find the right balance when it comes to exercise. So if you are looking for a way to get fit, then why not spice things up and jump on the Zumba band-wagon.
Fitness classes are seen not just to lose weight and to improve fitness levels, but a chance to socialise with friends and even meet new people. Along with Spinning Classes, Boxercise and Circuit Training, which are on the rise in the fitness industry, there will always be a place for Zumba.
Zumba has been the top of every fitness fan’s list since it was founded in 2001. The average person will burn around 600 to 1,000 calories in a Zumba class, and it is a wonderful way to lose weight, tone your body and have fun while doing it!
Walking into the Morlan Centre Hall in Aberystwyth and seeing a group of people ready to dance the hour away certainly increases motivation. As a Zumba fanatic, the movements in Karen Prior’s class are a case of when you start, you really don’t want to stop.
It gets better when taking part in Karen’s class produces a feeling of appearing in dance videos, especially to her playlist featuring the likes of Christina Aguilera’s ‘Candy Man’ and The Pussycat Dolls’ ‘Jai Ho’.
After the class, The Herald was fortunate to speak to regular members of Karen’s class, including Trish Huws, of Talybont who said: “I love it, it’s fantastic. Karen is a good teacher but also, the class is a sociable thing as there is a coffee culture as well. Most of us go for a coffee after the class, that’s what I mean by sociable so I’ve got to know people that I would never have known before.”
Anne England, another regular member of the Zumba class told the Herald: “I’ve been coming to the class for four years, at least, with little gaps in between. The class is fantastic and sets us off for the weekend. It’s not just good music, but it’s the sheer enthusiasm of Karen doing it. We do feel better for moving and the class has got atmosphere.
“I’ve been to other Zumba’s and I only come to Karen’s because I like her style. I’m retired so I’m able to come on Fridays, the routines look like they don’t have a lot in them to begin with but we follow the whole range of body movements I think.
“Our walking group started from Karen’s class because we all came thought let’s all go for a walk together. We’ve made a friendship of over probably five years now as a result of exercise. I find, personally, that exercise is better in the morning even though I’m not working.
“It gets your mind going and open up everything, a bit of movement then it has to be followed by coffee.”
Zumba Instructor Karen Prior, who has lived in Aberystwyth for 25 years, kindly spared some of her time after the class to tell The Herald about herself, the Zumba classes and her other fitness commitments:
“We have younger people coming on a Thursday so the class caters for everyone and you do it to your own level. The class is a very welcoming class and with the coffee social afterwards, it’s not a case where if your face doesn’t fit you’re not invited or even if you have a lot of things on they’re not offended but it’s very casual in who can go.
“One of our class members is 91 years old and is such an inspiration for all the other ladies because sometimes people come in and they don’t think they’ll be able to manage the class and she’ll say; of course you can! Everyone is different but she’s one of a kind.
“I started Zumba here at the Morlan Centre five years in October. Before that, I ran a gym and then I started Zumba from there. Then when we closed the gym, I found this location [Morlan Centre] which was great because I was a town centre gym so I wanted a town centre location and it’s got the parking and it’s a really nice facility.
“We have a class on Thursday nights at 5.45pm which is great but the attendance is better in the mornings [Friday 9.30am] due to the time being after work which is understandable.
“It’s quite a challenge for me because I’m a personal trainer by trade, and then I was running the gym and our membership was hit badly by the recession and at that point Zumba was such a big craze so we thought maybe we’ll get non-members in just for classes so that’s how I started.
“I went to Edinburgh to do my course and I thought I’d come back and then I’d know just how to run a class. You get taught all the steps but then you go home choreograph the steps yourself, you do your own dances.
“I came back to Aberystwyth and thought; the only time I’ve ever choreographed a dance was a Whitney Houston track when I was about eightyears- old in primary school. I was not a confident person at all and really doubted myself, and to me fitness is very much about counting and Zumba isn’t so it was a massive thing.
“I remember my mum asking when I was going to start but then I said to her; I’ve got to put these 10 dances together!
“My first dance was The Black Eyed Peas song ‘The Time (Dirty Bit)’ and I did it over and over and over again. I thought one day, do I do one song and move on to another? Or do I just hear a song and start doing that one and my brain was totally frazzled.
“One day, my mum and two younger brothers came into the gym and while it was quite I asked them to copy my dances with me and while they were going opposite ways I thought: if I can do it in front of them then I can do it. So I got 7 songs put together and asked the new class which ones to go over as it was new to them all and that’s how I built it up.
“In the early days, sometimes I would just stand there when the songs started and thought: I can’t remember it, my mind didn’t know what was going on.
“That was because I was trying to learn so much at once, but now if I get a new song I’ve only got to remember that one because the rest are all just there, If you have put it together then it’s easier, but if I copy someone else I find it hard and I’m all over the place. Also, if I come in halfway through a song,
“I would find it hard as I have to be there at the beginning to get the first step. Once you get the first step, you are alright. I wasn’t brought up as a dancer, like a lot of instructors come from a dance background and have always been dancing whereas I’m more exercised based so I keep my dances simple and repetitive so people will know the parts well and get into it quicker.”
“I’m lucky because, obviously with the gym people have followed me for 10 years so I’ve got a good core base of people coming and that sort of thing. Teaching Zumba is part time for me, we run a wellness centre for HerbaLife so I teach exercise alongside that and run a charity FitClub on a Tuesday evening.
“There’s me and two other instructors involved and what we’ve done is combined our qualifications and expertise and we run it from the Morlan.
“It’s very different, it’s like a hit training session so more of a circuit boot camp and basically we don’t draw any money, all we do is pay for the hall and the rest goes to a local charity.
“We’ve been going for over 10 weeks, and what we’ve done is we’ve put a poll in after the first couple of weeks and allowed the participants to choose which local charities they wanted to support. This time we’ve chosen Women’s Aid, and we’re up to about £200 that we’ve raised for them.
“We change every quarter so we’re about to choose another charity so again, it’s got to go to a vote, but what we’re really hoping to do is put a defibrillator on the Prom. The nearest one is in the 24 hour Spar which is quite a long way when you think of the beach, the sea and the Promenade.
“So if the money is raised for that, then the name gets put on it so we thought it would be cool to have FitClub Aber’s name on the defibrillator machine. Plus it’s something I think would be needed.”
All are welcome to join Karen’s Zumba class every Thursday (5:45pm-6:30pm) and Friday (9:30am-10:15am) at the Morlan Centre, Aberystwyth. Price is £3.80 per session.
FitClub is held at the Morlan Centre, Aberystwyth every Tuesday (6pm-7pm).