Challengers experience Zumba at YMCAs

MINSTER — After participants in the Grand Health Challenge learned about healthy food choices last month at Pantry Pride, they went on location again this month to learn about healthy fitness choices.

On Tuesday, people visited the Wapakoneta Family YMCA, Auglaize-Mercer YMCA North, in Celina, and Auglaize-Mercer YMCA South, in Minster, and participated in tours of the facilities, including the weight room, cardio room, aerobic track and the pool area, along with a YMCA employee explaining each portion of the tour in depth.

After the tours concluded, attendees could participate in a brief 30-minute Zumba class. At the Auglaize-Mercer YMCA South, Kathy Manbeck turned up the music and demonstrated key moves for the exercise. She has been teaching Zumba classes for two years, and has been taking the class for five years.

“The reason I like it is because it’s fun, it’s like a party,” Manbeck said of Zumba. “You don’t even know your burning calories.”

The concept of Zumba was created by dancer and choreographer Alberto “Beto” Perez in the mid 1990s. This Latin inspired fitness was created one day when he walked into his class and realized he had forgotten his music for his aerobics class, so he grabbed the tapes he had on hand and the tapes were filled with songs including the traditional Latin salsa and merengue music, and this was music he grew up listening to. He is a native of Columbia, South America.

Perez improvised the entire class using the non-traditional aerobics music, and from this class, a new fitness program was born — Zumba.

Zumba classes are held in more 140,000 locations throughout more than 150 countries.

Manbeck told the class of this story and noted this class is circuit training, as the warm-up is high intensity, and the workout includes lunges and squats, and also includes choreographed dances with different moves, using every part of the body.

“Seventy percent of the class is Zumba music, and the other 30 percent is filled in with other music,” Manbeck said.

The local YMCAs offers their classes for both members and non-members, and they also have a $5 drop in fee available for various fitness classes.

“It’s a good way to try it out,” Manbeck said. “The whole thing is like a dance party so it doesn’t feel like exercise.”

Wapakoneta Daily News Publisher Deb Zwez said the local YMCAs have been a great partner with the Grand Health Challenge.

She mentioned Zumba is a newer aerobics exercise by getting the heart rate going while it is an activity participants can do to keep healthy.

Zwez explained the whole idea of the Grand Health Challenge is to “adopt healthier habits.”

She said the best goal is to start living a healthier life, and this includes healthy eating and exercise choices.

She said she wanted to introduce new exercises and fitness options to the participant to take advantage of in while they participate in the Grand Health Challenge and after the challenge is completed.

Auglaize-Mercer YMCA South Program Director Heather Wenning talked to the group about the benefits of the facility, as she gave a tour of the pool.

“The biggest perk is health and fitness for now and in the future,” Wenning said. “As a parent, it’s a good trait to pass on to the kids —even children need exercise.”

She explained if the children see their parents exercise, then this will become second nature to the children, and something they can take with them as they grow older.

“Children need to be involved with health and fitness,” Wenning said. “As a YMCA, we reach out and teach kids fun, health and safety.”