Peering through the 60 students drenched in sweat and the steamed-up mirrors of the multipurpose room in the Sports & Recreation Center, you will find Moe de La Viez at the front of the room, swaying to the beat of Shakira’s “Waka Waka” as she instructs the cool down of her semiweekly Zumba class.
De La Viez, a senior production and design interdisciplinary major, first started teaching Zumba at Goucher in August of last year, not really knowing what to expect. “Part of me didn’t really expect a lot of people to be there or for me to even be that good at it. It’s hard to get Goucher students to do things so I expected the worst,” de La Viez said.
There exists a widely held belief that Goucher culture is one of being uninvolved and lackadaisical. “So many events are just so under-attended,” said sophomore Natalie Simendinger. She thought back on an event she went to last semester held by the music club, at which several non-Goucher bands came to campus to perform, including a band from New Jersey, and “less than 15 people showed up,” Simendinger recalled. This is just one example of countless under-attended events at Goucher. “I’ve heard that nobody shows up to sports games either, but I wouldn’t know because I’ve never gone to one,” Simendinger said.
So, expecting the worst, de La Viez was pleasantly surprised when 25 students showed up to her first class back in September of 2018. As the semester continued, this number grew. “It just became more popular and like midway through the semester I maxed at having 60 people!” de La Viez said. “I have at least 15 people who come to every class, and most classes have new people too. It’s awesome.”
The regulars who attend de La Viez’s class have an inside look into how she accomplished the amazing feat of getting 60 Goucher students to attend something, breaking the stereotype of the indolent nature of Goucher culture. Derek Borowsky, a first-year, tries to attend every class, describing Zumba as a combination of dance, cardio, and stress relief.
“I enjoy the music and the fun environment,” Borowsky said. “While it is definitely a workout, I don’t go there to be active. I primarily go to have fun and let go of some stress.”
Borowsky believes the class has reached such outstanding attendance records because it has so much to offer, including community, fun, dance, a chance to unwind, and good music. “Most people find at least one of those ideas appealing, so while we all might go for different reasons, a lot of people really love it.” Borowsky said.
Sophomore Amelia Meier, another Zumba regular, describes the class as upbeat, casual, fun, and chill. “The combinations are hard, but so fun. It gets your heart beat up, the room gets steamy and everyone is all smiles by the end.” Meier said. “Also, it’s so dang fun, and such a great workout!”
Meier also attributes the class’s success to the instructor, Moe. “Moe is amazing; she keeps things interesting in the class by changing which routines we do.” Meier said. “Having Moe as a teacher makes the class even better.”
De La Viez first discovered her interest in Zumba when she started taking classes at her local gym after graduating high school. She got certified as a Zumba instructor over the summer and wants to instruct Zumba after graduating Goucher. She hopped on board with Goucher Recreation this semester to launch her Zumba club.
So –– what exactly is Zumba?
Zumba is an hour long, Latin-inspired, high-intensity dance and fitness class. It was created the mid-1990s by Beto Perez, a Colombian celebrity fitness trainer who forgot to bring his aerobics music to class one day and decided to improvise using the Latin music he had in his car.
In 2001, Perez brought Zumba to the United States and partnered with Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion, creating Zumba Fitness, LLC, thus starting a world-wide craze. By 2015, there were over 14 million Zumba students in 186 countries.
Zumba uses music that comes from Latin dance, including cumbia, salsa, merengue, mambo, flamenco, chachacha, reggaeton, samba, hip hop music, and tango. Each song in the class has a repeated set of movements, including lots of squats, lunges, and hip movement. The repetition allows the participates to pick up on the choreography, regardless of their previous dance experience. In a single Zumba class, a person can burn up to 600 calories.
Students of all years, experiences, and fitness levels gather on Wednesdays at 5:15 p.m. and Saturdays at 1:30 p.m. for de La Viez’s Zumba class.
The low pressure, fun, and communal nature of Zumba contributes to its popularity over other, more intimidating, fitness classes that Goucher Recreation offers, such as High Intensity Interval Training, Weightlifting Basics, or GopherSHRED.
For college students, swamped with classes, work, clubs, etc., it is easy for fitness to fall by the wayside. Because of the lack of time, intimidation of the athlete-filled SRC, or just pure hatred of cardio, many students aren’t getting the exercise needed to fuel active minds. Zumba can be a great entryway into fitness.
“I know a lot of people are nervous to work out in the weight room, or others, like myself, may not like traditional methods of cardio like running,” de La Viez said. “Zumba doesn’t feel like cardio, so it rocks! You still sweat like hell though. It’s a fun workout and people get really into it.”
De La Viez’s Zumba class, with all odds stacked against it, managed to attract up to 60 students at a time, and de La Viez wants it to continue to grow.