Zumba Shakes Up Campus

Jordon O'Roy, Sports Editor

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As we begin to near the halfway mark of the fall semester, clubs are now in full swing. Throughout the past couple of years the Zumba Club has grown exponentially. In the last 2 years alone, Johanna Au and Mason Hegeman, who graduated last year, petitioned ASWC to make Zumba an official ASWC sponsored club. They gave a very strong presentation to the ASWC Senate including a list of their routines, leadership roles and a constitution. Zumba is now an official ASWC sponsored club, which has allowed the club to expand its many avenues.

Junior Nathaniel Larson provides first-hand experience as he has watched the club grow from participating his first year to becoming a club leader and Zumba instructor.

“My first year spring semester, I went religiously to Olivia Kinney’s Saturday Zumba session. I always came away glowing: I loved the music, her enthusiasm was contagious, and I got a better workout than in even some of the SSRA’s. Olivia left that year, along with the two other Zumba instructors, leaving only Mason Hegeman with the reins,” Larson said.

“My sophomore year, I continued to go to sessions under Mason. In the spring, Johanna and I — supported by ASWC — got officially trained as Zumba instructors and began to teach. We both have been instructing ever since. It is so fun to get out of class and realize that I get to dance for an hour with a great group of people.”

With the recent spike in popularity, Zumba has been moved outside of the Sherwood classroom to accommodate everyone who would like to participate. But where has this recent popularity come from?

Larson provides a few different perspectives from inside the Zumba community that will give insight as to why Zumba has become so popular in such a short period of time.

“Whereas many sports and athletics strive towards some goal (of lower times, higher weights, more points, more beautiful technique), Zumba is focused on the joy of dancing. I don’t think that people want to be judged — or feel that they have to judge themselves — as they strive to be fit and whole people. I believe that this is why many Whitties come,” Larson said.

“Also, there is something to be said about the novelty of Zumba. For some members, their moms go to Zumba (mine does!), and so it’s funny and interesting and new to go to a Zumba class. We welcome people who just want to see what it’s all about!”

The overall goal for the Zumba Club is to demonstrate that dance exercise can be just as aerobic as other athletic workouts, and for many other members it allows the exploration of Latin cultural dancing. Junior Jess Rodriguez explains how Zumba has provided a way for her to explore and participate in Latin cultured dance.

“I got involved in Zumba my first year at Whitman just out of my own desire. When I heard there was a Latin fitness dance club I was immediately intrigued; and after a few weeks at Whitman it did not take me long to realize that the social scene here does not include dancing, and if dancing was happening it was not to the type of music I wanted to listen to or could dance to. So Zumba became my outlet to dance to music I like while also getting in a workout,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez is also one of the many Zumba instructors and her overall goal as an instructor is to incorporate more of the Latin dance culture into Zumba.

“Personally, my goals include incorporating more Latin songs that go deeper than Shakira and JLo; and also to incorporate Latin dance moves. Nothing too difficult, but I think those goals are necessary for a ‘Latin’ fitness class,” Rodriguez said.

As the Zumba culture and community continues to grow on campus, the Club has many new goals that will hopefully draw out even more people as they look to exploit Zumba in some creative new ways.

“We are always considering special events — Aqua Zumba, outdoor Zumba, Zumba bonding brunch. This coming semester, we are considering hosting a Dance-a-thon over the course of several hours. People could donate some amount and then select a song — and then Zumba would dance to it,” Larson said.

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