Zumba fitness? What is that?

Stacy Laminack teaches Zumba classes to Blount County residents.

Stacy Laminack teaches Zumba classes to Blount County residents.

“I fell in love with Zumba fitness before I even took my first class,” says Stacy Laminack, a full-time cardiac nurse at Birmingham Heart Clinic specializing in cardiac pacemakers and defibrillators.

So excited is Stacy about Zumba fitness that she submitted to the newspaper two generic articles that went unpublished before making personal contact at The
Blount Countian
and describing what she wanted to say about the program. She protested, after submitting this article, that she didn’t have what it takes to be a writer, but readers may find that a moot question after reading her story.

Smiling participants are happy with their Zumba program.

Smiling participants are happy with their Zumba program.

Stacy says, “My best friend in North Carolina called and asked me to come take care of her after a surgery she was having. When I arrived, the person I hadn’t see in a year was completely different. In 2008, when I moved back to Alabama after three years in North Carolina, my friend weighed 306 pounds, despite having a personal trainer, working out five times a week, and dieting like a mad woman.

“She had the pills, the shots, the weight-loss bars, and diet shakes, but despite her best efforts, she had lost only 40 pounds – and gained that back as soon as she relaxed her rigorous diet plan. That is until … ZUMBA! After only one year of Zumba, she had lost from 306 pounds to 215 pounds, had kept the weight off, and was the happiest I had ever seen her.

“She was no longer obsessing about weight loss; she was enjoying life. No more shots, pill, and ‘fat doctors,’ as she called them. The change I saw in her that weekend was a change I wanted to feel and see in my other friends and family. Because of her excitement, I had already signed up to become a certified Zumba instructor before I left North Carolina that weekend!”

Stacy says she deals on a daily basis with patients who are short of breath and fatigued by the slightest activity. “Ninety percent of this fatigue and shortness of breath can be combated by movement. Just movement. That’s what Zumba is – meaningful movement,” she says.

The Zumba program is a Latin-inspired, dance-fitness class that incorporates Latin and international music and dance movements, creating a dynamic, exciting, exhilarating, and effective fitness system. A Zumba class – known as a Zumba fitness party – combines fast and slow rhythms that tone and sculpt the body using an aerobic/fitness approach to achieve a unique blended balance of cardio- and muscle-toning benefits.

Dancers and non-dancers alike can immediately and easily master a Zumba class because previous dance experience is not necessary. A Zumba class creates a party-like atmosphere that provides a non-intimidating opportunity for non-dancers, new exercisers, and those who have previously hesitated to participate in group classes.

“However, for me,” explains Stacy, “I am using Zumba as a way to make Blount County better. I love seeing people working out, having a good time, sweating, and smiling. For my classes, I don’t want mirrors because it’s not about how you look in class; it isn’t about being the youngest, smallest, most coordinated, or the person with the best ‘moves.’ I want my class members to be more concerned about feeling better than about being tiny, young, or coordinated.”

In her classes, Stacy says, she has seen people like Rose Nix, who began Zumba as soon as her oncologist approved it after her breast cancer treatment. Rose has lost 22 pounds since May; she dropped six sizes and says she is really LIVING life now.

Cate and Chris Taylor began Stacy’s class three weeks after Chris had rotator-cuff surgery. He feels it is a great addition to his physical therapy, and he provides a touch of humor for his classmates.

Paula Kretzschmar, a counselor at Cleveland Elementary, takes Zumba to keep the effects of rheumatoid arthritis at bay.

Cindy Reynolds is a physical education instructor at Cleveland High School who uses Zumba to get students interested in exercise. She has created a stir about Zumba among her students and has seen an increase in the number of students participating every week.

According to Stacy, several Zumba classes meet in Blount County now. Stacy herself teaches at Cleveland High School on Tuesday nights from 6:15 to 7:15, Thursdays from 3:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., and that night from 6:15 to 7:15. She also teaches on Saturday at 8 a.m. Yolanda Banks teaches a class at Hayden Primary School on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 7 to 8. “I think The Gym in Oneonta has classes on Sunday afternoon from 2 to 3,” says Stacy.

Stacy, Yolanda, and other area instructors are also involved in “Party in Pink,” a breast cancer awareness ZUMBAthon planned for Oct. 22 at 6 p.m. at Trussville Center. Special Zumba master instructor Erick Santana will appear. All proceeds will be donated to Susan G. Komen for “The Cure.” Tickets may be purchased at the door for $20 or pre-purchased from Stacy for $15 by calling her at 910-9063.

“I see so many people limited by years of unhealthy living, and I realize what taking care of yourself means to you and the family who loves you,” says Stacy. “I can’t teach enough how much exercise can treat problems that are thought to be treated only by medications. Just the mood-boosting ability to be active can turn your life and your outlook around.”

Stacy urges everyone to think about visiting a Zumba fitness party (class to you). “Every instructor is different; every class is different. It doesn’t matter where you go to Zumba, just go,” she says. “It very well may change your life.”