In March of 2014 I was asked to teach Zumba ® to teenagers at an area high school. They were having an all-night volleyball “lock-in” fundraiser and needed some “entertainment” for students waiting for their team to play. I agreed, but was feeling nervous. I worked on my playlist for days, wanting to ensure I chose music that these teens were going to like. My fear was that I would show up and no one would want to participate. Even though I’ve been teaching dance and group fitness for years, I knew that Zumba ® for teens could go one of two ways…..GREAT or Epic Fail!
To my amazement Zumba ® was a HUGE hit. The students enjoyed it so much, administrators asked me to stay an extra hour that night. For two full hours, these kids danced, laughed, sang, and jammed.
Bringing the program to the school through a grant
A few weeks later school administrators asked if I’d be interested in teaching Zumba ® fitness to students and faculty on a regular basis after school. They were applying for a grant that would support after school activities. I agreed to this activity excited to offer the opportunity, but again nervous to see if students would actually come.
Again, to my surprise, students and faculty filled the room week after week! The program was catching on in a big way and students from all “cliques” were coming to join the “party.” The program which ran April through June continued to grow and grow each week. I was even invited to the Senior Class’s all night safe grad party by request from the students!
Zumba ® fitness as an after school activity
By the start of the new school year school, administrators and the school’s principal were certain that offering Zumba ® fitness to their students was a great thing. For one, it gives them an after school activity that is an alternative to sports. Second, it provides all students with a non-threatening, no judgment zone to express and release stress. It provides physical activity in a party-like-atmosphere….and who doesn’t like to party! It brings teachers and students together on the same level…everyone learning together. Furthermore it allows students to see their teachers in a new light…having fun and exercising. It builds relationships, brings people together and provides a safe and controlled activity for all who are involved.
Evolving the Zumba ® program after school
Zumba ® continues to evolve at this school. This year school administrators were able to obtain funding to provide bus transportation home after the activity which is wonderful for students who may not have a ride home from a parent or friend. Students who have missed PE classes and choose to make the class up can now do so at Zumba ® which is helping students improve their PE grades.
Each week I’m amazed that kids from all walks of life, various groups, and different abilities come together to just have fun. There is an unspoken acceptance in the room. There is a group bond each week for new and returning participants alike. For 50-minutes I watch these teens and teachers move, sing, sweat, laugh, high five, dance, release stress, and just have fun.
School district’s commitment to offer programming that’s “out of the box”
In a high stress teenage world with pressure, expectations, negativity, it is nice to know that I can take them away from that for 50-minutes and provide a place to just live and be in the moment while improving their health. I applaud this districts openness and commitment to offer programming for their students that’s modern and somewhat out of the box.
We Zumba ® instructors have a saying that in just two words represents the feeling you have when being part of this fitness phenomenon; and through this high school group I am honored to feel it each and every week … “ZUMBA ® LOVE!”
And P.S …
This week a student asked me to help him with his “talent” for the Mr. RHS pageant. His talent is Zumba ® with the help of his 6 friends as back up dancers. Our rehearsal went great. I’ll keep you posted on how he does!!!