When Annmarie Bourdon joined her first Zumba class in 2008, her intentions were to create a healthy lifestyle for herself and lose some weight.
When a physical injury forced her to find an alternative exercise routine, she turned to the low-impact Zumba Gold and Zumba Chair programs, and she's never looked back. Three years and 40 pounds later, Bourdon, of Clay, is now a certified Zumba Gold and Zumba Chair instructor at the Cicero Family Sports Center.
"The classes are a great way to keep my weight off, give back to the community and show others that exercise can be fun no matter what age or physical limitation," she said.
Zumba Gold classes are low-impact, with no jumping and minimal twisting involved in the Latin dance routines.
Zumba Chair classes consist of 20 minute low-impact arm and leg movements, followed by 10 minutes of arm and leg strength training with one pound weights. Since the movements are done from a seated position, the class is ideal for those with restricted range of motion or in wheelchairs. Some choose the class to ease themselves back into exercise after an illness, surgery or long-term hiatus from the exercise world. The center is one of the few in the area to offer this style of exercise.
Each class has a party atmosphere, and Bourdon sites the most important aspects of the classes as "having fun, socializing and enjoying the music."
The music consists of 70 percent Latin prescribed by the Zumba organization, and thirty percent selections by the instructor. Bourdon uses oldies music to fill the gaps.
"Once the ladies learn the moves to individual songs, they are much more comfortable in the class," the 64-year-old said. "Once they get the hang of it, they feel good-and more confident-about their bodies."
The center currently offers one Zumba Chair and three Zumba Gold classes.
"It makes me feel good that people walk out laughing and energized to start their day. Some have made new friends and they start to feel good about themselves and their body again," said Bourdon. "The class gives me the incentive and energy to teach each class as if it were my fist time."
The Cicero Family Sports Center, 5575 Meltzer Court in Cicero, is one on 50,000 locations to experience Zumba classes in over 75 countries. To sign up for a class, visit cicerofamilysports.com or call 752-9622 for more information.