Columbus Monthly Magazine
Kenya Day, 39, a sexy, sizzling bombshell, is cranking up the heat in her Monday night Zumba class at Dublin’s Life Time Fitness. In short shorts, a tight orange tee and gold lamé high-tops, she laughs as she cues the first track.
“OK, most of you are not going to know this one. It’s old school,” she calls out, as Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” starts easy, finishes rough. But it inspires a seductive prance, a rapid-fire jazz square and Day’s trademark move, the drop-down, shake-your-booty step that tones everything God gave you, all at once.
Can’t quite get it? Regardless of age, size or dance experience, Day says just be yourself. “You should move however you feel comfortable. This music is so full of passion. It gives you the confidence to feel very sexy as you dance.”
“We feel safe in here, nobody’s judging you,” says Havilah Stansbery, a lab technician who’s been studying with Day for 18 months.
Whether riding the infectious beat of T-Pain’s “Booty Work” or body-rolling in reggae and hip-hop drops to “Prrrum” by Cosculluela, Day shakes it hard. Shakes it like Shakira, the Colombian singer whose smash hit, “Hips Don’t Lie,” put belly-dancing on the Gen-Y radar. And with Day’s long, wavy blonde-streaked hair and soulful brown eyes, they even look alike. But despite her mastery of rapid-fire hip thrusts, rib-cage isolations, shimmies and undulations, Day has never taken so much as a single belly-dancing lesson.
“I just feel the music way down in my soul,” she says. The Columbus native, who’s been teaching Zumba for nearly three years, grew up moving to the beat. “With three sisters and a brother, there was always something playing—R & B, hip-hop,” Day recalls.
A hairstylist by trade, Day only recently has made the shift to full-time fitness instructor. In addition to Zumba, she’s into Pilates. “It complements a dancer’s body, adds strength and flexibility,” she says, adding she’s begun teaching at the Pilates Studio of Bexley.
Day keeps inventing ways to motivate her students. “I desperately want them to reach their fitness goals,” she says. “Because when they feel their best, it’s life-changing.”
Workout twists to beat of pulsing Latin music
Step aside, step aerobics.
Put your hands down, Tae Bo.
These days, the hot workout in central Ohio might be Zumba.
"Zumba is basically exercise turned into a big party," instructor Kenya Day said while preparing to lead a packed Zumba class -- the first of the new year -- at the Worthington Community Center.
The official Zumba site (www.zumba. com) describes the regimen a bit more technically:
"The routines feature interval-training sessions where fast and slow rhythms and resistance training are combined to tone and sculpt your body while burning fat."
Zumba workouts, the site says, also feature "some Latin flavor and international zest" -- in the form of music with a pulsing Latin beat.
"It's exercise, but you're not thinking about it, because you're having fun," said Temi Adejobi, a 24-year-old student in the Day class. "It's like you're at a club just dancing."
The Columbus area, it turns out, might have arrived late to the party.
The craze reached the Dayton area a few years ago, thanks to two "master instructors" -- a one-time personal trainer and her husband, a bodybuilder -- who embraced the workout with an evangelical zeal and subsequently helped recruit more than 30 other instructors.
"We had no idea Zumba would be this big in Dayton," Joan Jones, half of the pair, told The Dispatch in 2006.
"We want Columbus to have what we have."
Three years later, classes are available at the YWCA; the Elizabeth Blackwell Center at Riverside Methodist Hospital; community centers in Dublin, Westerville and Worthington; and other gyms throughout central Ohio.
The originator -- dancer and fitness trainer Alberto "Beto" Perez -- developed the workout by accident in the mid-1990s.
He was set to lead an aerobics class in his hometown of Cali, Colombia, when he realized he had forgotten the standard music.
The only tapes in his backpack: collections of the salsa and merengue to which he had listened all his life.
Armed with such songs, he improvised an entirely new routine with moves such as hip gyrations that might have made Elvis Presley blush -- or at least sweat.
Perez brought the workout to the United States 10 years ago and, with the help of entrepreneurs Alberto Aghion and Alberto Perlman, trademarked the name Zumba and began laying the foundation for what has become a global phenomenon.
The fitness regimen is taught at more than 40,000 locations in 75 countries, according to the Web site.
An estimated 5 million people participate in Zumba classes each week.
"This form of exercise has really toned my body more than any other exercise that I've done," said the 37-year-old Day, who became an instructor a year ago.
"We do a lot of hip action, so it really tones your core area."
Before each routine, she demonstrates the basic steps to her class.
Adejobi, the student who likened Zumba to nightclub dancing, has lost 25 pounds.
"I look at exercise a lot differently," she said. "I look forward to exercising now."- Columbus Dispatch
Licensed To Teach
- Zumba Basic
License to teach regular Zumba® classes.