By Alex Tekip

As a spring breeze starts to pick up and scents of flower blossoms and freshly cut grass fill the air and the year begins to dwindle to a close, it becomes increasingly difficult for the average Michigan State student to focus on their studies as well as maintain healthy lifestyle habits, including a daily workout. It’s guaranteed that with finals just around the corner, and “stress food” abundant everywhere, most students will find the task of being healthy at the bottom of their priority list. However, this task is becoming easier thanks to a fitness phenomenon that is taking campus by storm: Zumba.

Zumba is a Latin dance fitness class that has not only developed a strong following at Michigan State, but also worldwide. According to the official Zumba Fitness website, more than 12 million people across 125 countries in 110,000 locations participate in Zumba.

One of these participants is comparative cultures and politics sophomore Adam Harrison, who is also a certified Zumba instructor.  Harrison enjoys the fast-paced nature of Zumba and sees it as a fun way to work out in a loose environment.

Photo credit: Alex Tekip

“When I participate in Zumba, whether it be instructing or in a class, I don’t realize that I’m sweating until the end. It’s a fun way to let your body go wild while shaking it to good music,” Harrison said.

Harrison received his Zumba certification underneath the guidance of fellow instructor, applied engineering and science sophomore Robin Lawson. Both individuals enjoy teaching classes and sharing their passion for fitness and dance with their students.

Lawson has been a dancer since age eight, and started taking Zumba classes as a freshman. She instantly fell in love with the high-energy aura and dual nature of Zumba, and immediately approached instructors, asking for recommendations and guidance to change her position from the many being taught by one, to the one teaching many.

“Performing is something I’ve been doing for a very long time, and in a way, instructing Zumba is on the same level, only I can directly see the reaction of my audience, and I can watch as the let go and begin to feel the music,” Lawson said.

Harrison started attending Zumba classes as a freshman as well, and started officially teaching classes in February. He makes up the less than 5 percent of male Zumba instructors within 75 miles; lack of male representation was a major reason he wanted to be an instructor.

“Zumba has helped me achieve a healthier lifestyle, and I wanted more male representation within the classes at MSU, for men to know that the gym isn’t the only place to go work out,” Harrison said.

Human biology freshman Jaime Cloyd has attended classes taught by Lawson and Harrison. Cloyd has an avid interest in fitness and nutrition and sees Zumba as an easy way to stay healthy with her busy lifestyle, or get in a workout on days where she doesn’t have the motivation to go to the gym.

“The free Zumba classes offered in Brody are convenient to go to because they are close to home and don’t take much time.”

Cloyd also enjoys the social aspect of Zumba classes, often participating in Zumba with her floor mates, including her roommate, junior zoo and aquarium science major Laura Boelema.

“[Boelema] and I go once or twice a week to take a break from studying to get in exercise and meet new people,” Cloyd said.

Cloyd and Boelema are only a small part of the workout dance party. Zumba classes at MSU can range in attendance from ten people to over 100.

“Zumba is basically a big party.  The goal is to have too much fun that you forget you’re working out,” said Lawson.

Many Zumba participants do not realize that while dancing to a fusion of Latin, International, and current Pop music, they are undergoing interval fitness training, and toning their body while shimmying and shaking, moving around almost as if they were at a workout dance club.

“Since the audience for Zumba classes is within the age range of seventeen to twenty-four, I use club-inspired moves in my routines,” said Harrison. “The choreography is flexible and people can keep up easily…they leave feeling healthy and accomplished.”

Boelema describes the post-Zumba experience as one of rejuvenation.

“After Zumba I feel healthier and more energized,” she said

The feeling of having accomplished a solid workout in such a quick and easy manner is the major force of attraction propelling Spartans to attend Zumba classes, to stray away from the end-of-the year, finals-induced stress and distractions, and monotonous nature of the gym, to stay in step when it comes to being healthy.

“Zumba is not intimidating, it’s always changing, there’s fun routines, fun music, and friends,” said Harrison. “What is there not to love?”

Zumba Classes are free for MSU students with a group fitness pass, and $3 for all others. Check out your neighborhood news bulletins and the MSU rec sports website for more information.

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