MOOERS - Zumba, the worldwide dance-exercise craze, has made its way into the Northern Tier.
The class is taught by Tracy Posada, a newly-certified Zumba instructor and physical education teacher at Peru Central School.
Posada began taking Zumba classes at Peru Central after the school's athletic director, Cathy Phillips, brought in an instructor from Vermont.
"I fell in love with," explained Posada. "I just thought it was the coolest thing. When you work out, you don't even feel like you're working out."
However, with various time constraints, Posada had to stop taking the classes. Eventually, though, with advice from Phillips, she decided to take Zumba a step further, and become a certified instructor herself.
"I just started teaching it in my phys. ed. classes, learned the dances and then started here just a couple weeks ago," she explained of the Mooers class.
Posada took up instructing Zumba in Mooers after a friend suggested it might be an ideal location.
"The big hub is Plattsburgh right now," she explained. "So, people are going to Plattsburgh. But, if you live in Mooers, that's a big hike. It's easier for one person to come out here than it is to have 160 people go out there."
Posada anticipated having 15 people turn out for the first class, but was surprised to find nearly 70 women ready to work out.
"It was awesome," recalled Posada. "Then, it went up to like 100."
Now, Posada holds classes at the elementary school cafeteria every Monday and Wednesday, with sessions from 4-5 p.m. and 5:30-6:30 p.m. She is also considering adding classes on Friday evenings.
"Zumba is a Latin-infused dance party," Posada said. "You don't have to have great rhythm or coordination. You come, you show up and as long as you're not killing anyone, knocking people down, then you're doing Zumba right." Despite having a large number of women attending the Mooers classes, Posada said there is still space for more women to attend.
"A lot of people find it's addicting," she explained. "People get all that energy from all the people that are here. Everyone cheers and it's totally different."
Posada admits when she teaches at the high school level, there is a different sort of energy.
"The kids don't quite get that the whole idea that this is about these women right now," she said. "They are finally doing something for themselves instead of carting their kids here and there."
"They're not out of school yet where they have to start thinking for themselves about how they are going to stay in shape," added Posada.
Posada, who suffered from a stroke at age 25, knows the importance of staying in shape.
She is also involved with the American Heart Association, which is why, during the month of February, Posada is asking everyone who attends her class to wear red, in honor of American Heart Month.
"I'm trying to get people to wear red and to start thinking about [heart health]," she explained. "I want them to try to wear red as much as they can. It's kind of like a unity thing."
Posada charges $5 per class, but will donate $1 for every one who attends her class during February, to the AHA.
Zumba not only helps in terms of staying in shape, but Posada has found it helps with physical ailments as well.
"I have a lady that had open heart surgery, I had someone that had injuries to her ankles. I've had just about everything," she explained. "I have horrible knees and they're doing really well because of this. I know that my knees don't hurt half as much as they did."
Posada also believes Zumba can be beneficial to men as well.
"Men, I think, in the North Country don't think that dancing is manly," speculated Posada as to why the number of men are lower. "My young boys in school are starting to get into it. I have four or five little boys that come. They realize it's not the stereotypical 'girl dance.' They can put their own moves in it and you move the way you want to move."
For more information regarding Zumba, visit www.zumba.com, and for more information about Posada's classes, contact her via e-mail at email@example.com.
Posada's classes in Peru are held at the Peru Middle School cafeteria from 3:30-4:30 p.m. and 6-7 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday.