Inside the Cortez Recreation Center, on a gym floor that one would hardly expect to find talented dancers, a group of local men join an even larger group of women in grooving to the beat of unique music.
Twisting and turning, spinning and shaking, the men put on quite the performance during an hour-long workout capable of leaving even the most dedicated fitness fanatics in ruin.
Part of fitness trainer Rayna Hale’s Zumba class, the group of men stand out not only for their moves, but their overall level of fitness. Although many in the group are well past 60, they move as if they were much younger, due in large part to the time they spend in Zumba.
Developed late in the 21st century by Colombian dancer Alberto Perez, Zumba combines dance elements with aerobic fitness to produce a workout that is both physically and mentally stimulating. Led by a certified instructor, pupils mimic their leader’s dance moves as music plays in the background.
While many Zumba classes are comprised primarily of female members, Hale’s class has grown to include several members of the local male community.
Among those who participate in Hale’s class is local resident Jerry Ryan, who, after years of fitness-related activities, has carved a niche in the unique Zumba class.
“They ask why I do it, I say because I can,” said Ryan. “I enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun, and you meet a lot of great people.”
Far more than merely a social activity however, Zumba provides physical and mental benefits, which, according to those in the class, make the hour-long class more than worthwhile.
“I like trying to replicate the steps,” said longtime Zumba participant Dale Davidson. “It’s a really good mental exercise. One of the things that people say about aging is that one of the ways you hold on to your cognitive skills is through exercise.”
Men currently participating in Hale’s Zumba class include Davidson, Ryan, Lonn Andrews, George Stuerge, Bob Heyder, Steven Hanson and Robert Hyle.
Without fail, all seven men agree that a primary reason behind their participation in Zumba is the enthusiasm brought to the class by Hale.
“You can’t beat Rayna’s enthusiasm,” Davidson said. “She’s one of the best instructors I’ve ever met. She has more rhythm in her fingernails than most people have in their entire body.”
Currently offered multiple times every week and modified according to the dynamic that each individual class presents, Zumba offers a fun alternative to traditional fitness classes.
Individuals interested in learning more about Zumba are encouraged to contact Rayna Hale at (970) 560-3916.