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).
Ceredigion’s Energy Efficiency work recognised at the Wales Energy Efficiency Awards
ON June, 17, 2022, Wales Regional Energy Efficiency Awards were held in Cardiff. Ceredigion County Council’s Energy Efficiency Schemes scooped 2 awards.
The Energy Efficiency Awards were introduced to help recognise the fantastic work being undertaken by the energy efficiency sector in Wales. The measures were introduced to help homeowners reduce their energy bills, tackle fuel poverty and reduce Carbon emissions.
Ceredigion County Council have been delivering the ECO Local Authority Flexibility scheme along with the Warm Homes Cozy Ceredigion Scheme for a number of years. These schemes have seen a number of insulation measures and heating systems being installed in properties improving their energy efficiency. With the drive towards renewable heating systems the concentration lately has been on the installation of air source heat pumps.
The Council scooped the top prize for the Regional Council or Local Authority of the Year where one exceptional council in each of the 11 Regional areas of the UK has shown a true commitment to promoting energy efficiency within their region. This award was sponsored by Improveasy.
For this award, the judges look at the impact their work has had within the local community, what their customer and local community have to say about the council, what level of expertise the council has within its own teams and what priority the council gives to tackling fuel poverty within its current plans.
The Council also won the Regional Vulnerable Customer Support Organisation of the Year having shown a true commitment to improving the lives of vulnerable people within their region. This award was sponsored by Consumer Energy Solutions.
Councillor Matthew Vaux, is the Cabinet Member responsible for the Housing Service. He said: “I would like to congratulate the Housing team for their hard work and success at the Regional Energy Efficiency Awards this year. With the current rise in fuel costs and the increase in cost of living, this is a fantastic achievement for the Council’s housing team in showcasing that they are helping our residents save energy and combat fuel poverty.”
Find more information about Energy Efficiency Schemes on the Council’s website: www.ceredigion.gov.uk/resident/housing/financial-assistance/energy-efficiency-schemes/
The Welsh Government launches Basic Income pilot scheme
FROM 1 July 2022, more than 500 people leaving care in Wales will be offered £1600 each month (before tax) for two years to support them as they make the transition to adult life.
Launched by First Minister Mark Drakeford, it is hoped the pilot will set care leavers on a path to live healthy, happy and fulfilling lives.
The radical approach has trust, autonomy and respect at its centre. It will provide independence and security to people who have faced immense challenges during their childhood, giving them greater control and empowering them to make decisions about their future.
The £20 million pilot, which will run for three years, will be evaluated to carefully examine its effect on the lives of those involved
Social Justice Minister Jane Hutt said the scheme is a direct investment in the lives and futures of some of Wales’ most vulnerable young people.
Those taking part in the pilot will also receive individual advice and support to help them manage their finances and develop their financial and budgeting skills.
Local authorities will play a key role in supporting them throughout the pilot. Voices from Care Cymru will also work with the young people to give them advice on wellbeing, education, employment and help them plan their future after the pilot.
To launch the scheme, First Minister Mark Drakeford, Social Justice Minister Jane Hutt and Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan met with people taking part in the pilot, and young people who themselves have been in care, to talk about the impact this support will have on peoples’ lives.
They discussed how they hope the financial stability will give people the opportunity to make positive life choices as they leave care and provide a more solid foundation from which to build their adult lives.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We want all our young people to have the best possible chance in life and fulfil their full potential. The state is the guardian of people leaving care and so has a real obligation to support them as they start their adult life.
“Our focus will be on opening up their world to all its possibilities and create an independence from services as their lives develop.
“Many of those involved in this pilot don’t have the support lots of people – myself included – have been lucky enough to enjoy as we started out on our path to adulthood.
“Our radical initiative will not only improve the lives of those taking part in the pilot, but will reap rewards for the rest of Welsh society. If we succeed in what we are attempting today this will be just the first step in what could be a journey that benefits generations to come.”
Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt said: “We’re in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis like no other and we therefore need new ways of supporting people who are most in need.
“Our Basic Income pilot is an incredibly exciting project giving financial stability to a generation of young people. Too many people leaving care face huge barriers to achieving their hopes and ambitions; such as problems with getting a safe and stable home, to securing a job and building a fulfilling career. This scheme will help people live a life free of such barriers and limitations.
“We will carefully evaluate the lessons learnt from the pilot. Listening to everyone who takes part will be crucial in determining the success of this globally ambitious project. We will examine whether Basic Income is an efficient way to support society’s most vulnerable and not only benefit the individual, but wider society too.”
Tiff Evans of Voices from Care Cymru, speaking on behalf of young people who have experienced care, said: “This is a brilliant opportunity for care leavers in Wales. It is good to see that care leavers in Wales are being thought of and Welsh Government are providing this opportunity for them as young people to become responsible, control some parts of their lives and have a chance to thrive and be financially independent.
“We thank Welsh Government for investing in them and their future and we look forward to other changes and developments for care experienced young people in Wales in order for them to reach life aspirations.”
Ceredigion man living in Ireland sentenced after involvement in illegal meat operation
A CEREDIGION man living in Ireland has been extradited and sentenced after his involvement in illicit farming and trading of meat that was unfit for human consumption.
Robert Thomas, 45, was found to be part of an organised crime group (OCG), who were involved in running an illegal meat operation, where “smokies” were being prepared for human consumption. The production of “smokies” involves the illegal slaughter of sheep which, as part of the production process, have their fleece retained on the carcasses and burnt with blow torches to impart a smoked flavour to the meat. This process is illegal in the UK and many European countries.
The initial prosecution was undertaken by Ceredigion County Council in 2015, but due to Mr Thomas persistence in evading justice it has taken 7 years for the proceedings to reach a conclusion. The prosecution involved Mr Thomas and another male person from Ceredigion, who is still wanted on warrant in respect of the charges.
At Swansea Crown Court in December 2015, Thomas was sentenced to a 28-week term of imprisonment, suspended for two years and was ordered to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work and ordered confiscation proceedings to try and identify and recover any assets obtained by Thomas, through his illegal activities. That confiscation investigation was undertaken by officers in the Tarian Regional Economic Crime Unit (RECU) assisted by Ceredigion County Council. Various Proceeds of Crime Act hearings took place during which Thomas gave evidence on oath that his assets and income were minimal.
He declared that he had two old cars and was earning just £40 per week working for his parents. He also claimed that he had two UK bank accounts with no money in them and produced bank statements to prove so. Over the course of three years, Thomas persistently denied having any more than this, and in April 2017 he failed to appear at court.
Further investigations revealed that Thomas held a number of bank accounts and held property and land in Ireland.
A European Arrest Warrant was subsequently obtained, and he was finally located in Ireland and arrested in December 2021 by the Irish authorities and extradited to the UK in February 2022.
On Monday 13 June 2022, Thomas appeared in Bristol Crown Court having previously entered a guilty plea to a charge of perjury. At sentencing, His Honour Judge Cullen described Thomas’ actions as ‘a considered lie and a practiced lie’. He also said that giving sworn evidence to a Judge was a serious matter which could only be dealt with by an immediate imprisonment and requires a significant custodial sentence.
Thomas was sentenced to 22 months imprisonment for perjury and for breach of a Community Order, he was sentenced to 2 months imprisonment to run consecutively, making a total of 24 months imprisonment.
Councillor Mathew Vaux, Ceredigion County Council Cabinet Member for Public Protection Services, said: “This case has shown that regulatory services will work together effectively in partnership in order to bring justice for these serious crimes. The illegal trade in “smokies” is a serious public health risk, as the meat is often infected with diseases and parasites that could pass to those people who eat the meat. The animals are also killed inhumanely with no regard to their welfare, which is against the principles of high animal welfare held by the farming community of Ceredigion County Council.”
The proceeds of Crime Act proceedings have not been concluded as Thomas has not fully discharged his liabilities under the Order which the Court concluded amounted to a criminal benefit sum of over £200,000. Thomas will therefore be subject to further legal proceedings.
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