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Local zumba classes provide fun, toning and weight loss

SOUTH POINT — “I never dreamed that exercise could be so much fun,” said Jean Dailey of Kitts Hill. “I’ve lost 12 pounds since August. “I went from wearing a size 14 tightly to wearing a size 12 — and now that’s loose-fitting.”

Dailey has been a regular attendee at Zumba classes directed by Lisa Rivers Irish in South Point’s Community Center. Classes are held on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at 6 p.m.

Irish says Dailey’s story is not uncommon, but says there are even more benefits for participants in her Zumba classes. Attendees at her classes range in age from 15 to 75.

“Zumba eliminates the ‘work’ from ‘working out’ by combining amazing, irresistible Latin and international music with dynamic, yet simple exercise moves,” said Irish. “The participants may not get the steps perfectly, but it’s not about the ‘dance.’ Dance is the means to the end of a healthy body and getting people to move their bodies!

Unlike sculpting and weight lifting, where you work a set of muscles and have a rest day in between, you can do Zumba every day for cardio to keep your body flexible and your heart pumping. People tend to forget that the heart is a muscle that needs exercised too.

“Everyone is having so much fun in the party atmosphere that it’s not until the class is over that they realize they were really working!” Irish said. “Participants broke a serious sweat, but smiled and laughed all the way. It’s addictive! Why wouldn’t you want to do something that leaves you laughing with friends?”

Irish points to Zumba enthusiasts Dolores Scherer and Gretta Mann.

Scherer says Zumba has given her much more flexibility and also helped her balance, both important issues as one ages. Mann, who has been taking the Zumba classes with Irish since she began instructing, said she has lost inches and toned up.

Other participants have noticed metabolic changes, such as decreased insulin and thyroid levels. Increased exercise can help promote metabolic efficiency, improve cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure.

Zumba has been a personal success story for Irish, too.

She took her first Zumba class in January 2008, became an instructor in August 2008, and starting teaching at South Point in September 2008. She has become certified in Zumba Basics I, Basics II and Toning and plans to pursue Zumba Gold certification. In September 2009, she achieved AFAA Group Exercise Instructor Certification (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America), requiring continuing education to maintain certification.

While her success in teaching Zumba has been significant, it also has provided personal rewards.

“I personally have lost 51 pounds,” says Irish. “Zumba is the perfect ‘exercise in disguise.’”

For more information, contact instructor Lisa Rivers Irish at zumbalisa@gmail.com or (740)414-4369.

As with any exercise program, you should consult with your personal physician before beginning.