Latin beats drive heart-healthy exercise in Zumba

Lydia Drews is all smiles as she leads a class of Zumba at JBPHH Fitness Center.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

In the multitude of workout programs offered at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) by Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR), Zumba has created a special niche for itself that is formed by avid fans of the Latin fitness craze.

Moved by the pulsating rhythms of the Latin beat, the exercise program here at Joint Base and around the world has been credited for numerous success stories of people getting back into shape while having fun at the same time.

Lydia Drews, who conducts several classes of the popular routine at JBPHH Fitness Center, said that once people see how much fun it is, they are usually hooked.

“I’ve been teaching for six years (at JBPHH),” she said. “It’s fun and effective for fitness. It’s like you don’t even know that you’re losing a lot of calories. Sometimes, you don’t even feel it.”

At a recent class at JBPHH Fitness Center, Drews was totally engaged and full of lively exuberance in conducting the class of more than a dozen Zumba enthusiasts.

Encouraged by the spirited sounds of Latin music, Drews immersed her students into the routine that seemed to be full of high energy from the start.

One noticeable difference between Zumba and other forms of exercise is that even though it works out the entire body, people participating in the class seemed happy and were seen smiling throughout the workout — a stark contrast with other workouts where people are seen straining and heard grunting.

Daisa Condit, wife of an active-duty military member, said that, compared to other forms of workouts, she finds Zumba to be freeing and far more enjoyable.

“It feels amazing,” said Condit, who has been using Zumba as a primary workout to stay healthy and fit for several years. “This is significantly more fun.

The music is great, the company is fantastic, you’re moving around getting a great cardio workout and you’re also stretching and working all of your muscles all at the same time.”

Drews said that the learning curve to Zumba isn’t steep at all and after just a few sessions, people feel right at home.

“You can see that at first they kind of look lost,” Drews said. “But they get it eventually because the music has a lot of repetition in it.”

For Matthew Faxon, another Zumba instructor at JBPHH, he said that his journey in Zumba went from being a student into becoming an instructor in just two years.

Besides being great fun, Faxon said that Zumba lets you step in at your own pace and invites you to use your personality to make it your own.

“A long time ago, I used to do step-aerobics, where the instructor told you what to do,” he said. “Then I tried Zumba and nobody told you what to do. You just followed the instructor. You get to be yourself. You can be creative and joke around. It’s like a happy hour for fitness.”

Condit agreed and said that while she has come and gone with the program, she always returns back to Zumba.

“It’s just the love of music and the ability to move,” said Condit, who also does yoga and some weightlifting at JBPHH Fitness Center. “To feel the music, go with the beat, there’s nobody hounding you to go a certain way and everyone is really accepting in the classes. So you feel like yourself and it’s pretty cool.”

Drews also said that while many men think that Zumba is only for women, guys should give it a try because of its many health benefits.

“I hear that Zumba is only for women. No it’s not,” Drews said. “This is the No. 1 (workout) for the heart. If you want to lose weight quick and burn tons of calories, this is it.”

For more information about MWR’s fitness programs and classes, visit their website at www.greatlifehawaii.com.

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Category: Sports