Zumba Gets Jewish Home Staff into Shape
Fitness — physical, cognitive, and spiritual— is a cornerstone behind the Jewish Home’s philosophy of care for its residents. Recently, the Home began extending fitness opportunities to its staff. Each week employees from nursing, dietary, housekeeping, fiscal, and administration meet fitness instructor Karima Williams for an hour of Zumba class!
Zumba is a style of group fitness that incorporates aerobics and Latin dance. It was started by Colombian aerobics instructor, Alberto “Beto” Perez. The story goes that one day, he forgot his aerobics music and improvised a class with the Latin salsa and meringue music he had in his backpack. The hybrid style quickly took off, and today Zumba is popular worldwide as a fitness program.
“Since I started here, employees have been asking me, ‘How can I lose weight? How can I get stronger?’” explains Karima. Wanting to help health-conscious staff, she approached the Home’s human resources department. As it turned out, they had also been thinking of fun ways to help the staff stay healthy.
More than a month into offering the classes, anywhere from 20 to 60 people show up ready to sweat. In fact, Zumba is so popular at Grancell Village that a second class was organized for the same day!
“I’m breathless after the classes, but it’s exhilarating!” laughs payroll supervisor Chaya Fischel. “I know I got the benefit of a good exercise. I feel lighter, and I’ve been sleeping better at night.”
Karima starts off the class with some basic warm-up moves to stretch out muscles, get hearts beating a little faster, and fire up the energy level in the class. As the Latin beat quickens and the body heat starts raising the room’s temperature, the class’s moves get more challenging. Zumba tends to focus on the body’s core muscles — abdominals, obliques, hip flexors, and gluteus maximus — and it’s clear that all the gyrating, rotating, and shuffling is having a positive effect.
“It’s not a dancing class — we’re just here to party, to have fun, to move to the music,” Ana Haro declares. “In most of the Latino cultures, music is a part of everything you do; everybody dances and joins in the fun. You don’t need to have a certain level of fitness or a certain body type to have fun. Just feel the music and let go.”
Regulars are already remarking about how they have more energy and are seeing their waist lines shrink. Even Karima, a professional fitness instructor with decades of experience, is seeing a difference.
In addition to the physical benefits, the aerobic exercises like Zumba help decrease blood pressure, relieve stress, strengthen the heart’s ability to pump blood throughout the body, and play a big role in preventing degenerative diseases like type 2 diabetes.
Most of all, though, Zumba is about having fun. “I try to reach everybody,” Karima says, elaborating that her goal is to encourage and motivate everyone to take control of their health.
Zumba classes are offered on Tuesdays at 4:00pm in the Eisenberg Village boardroom, and on Thursdays at 4:00pm and 5:00pm in the Grancell Village synagogue. For more information on the classes, please contact Ana Haro at (818) 774-3125 or email@example.com.