Zumba, a dance fitness program designed around Latin music, requires a wide range of movement.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, causes nerve cells to die.
The two opposites collided Saturday afternoon during a Zumbathon at the Fitness Place in Soldotna. The event raised $800 in donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Augie’s Quest to cure ALS.
“We can move, but can you imagine what it would be like if you couldn’t get out and move?” said Dawn Jackson, 51, one of the main organizers of the event.
For Jackson, the event hit close to home, her husband’s uncle died of ALS. She said Zumba was a good way to pay tribute to those who have been affected by the disease.
“We can move, to help find a cure,” she said. “They can’t, so let’s help them.”
Katie Jacobson, who is also a Zumba instructor, said it was inspiring to help raise money for a good cause.
“We still have the ability to move our bodies and to enjoy dance,” Jacobson, 28, said. “So it’s kind of cool that we’re able to do that and raise money for a cause for people that aren’t able to move anymore.”
Zumba is centered on Latin music — such as salsa, merengue and cumbia, which makes the dance moves fast and difficult because of the up-tempo beat. But that’s not the point of Zumba, Jacobson said.
“It doesn’t matter if you get every single step, that’s not what it’s about,” she said. “It’s about coming (to Zumba) and making friends and having a good physical workout and just having fun.”
Brian Beard was the lone male participant and said he had never taken a Zumba class before — but he jumped at the chance to take part in a charitable cause.
“I told them don’t expect Zumba out of me, just movement,” he said laughing.
There were about 35 participants and 11 certified Zumba instructors taking place in the three-hour event, that came from all over the Central Peninsula, and the Homer area.
“I love doing Zumba, and I just want to help the cause,” said Gretchen McCullough, a Zumba instructor from Anchor Point. “I know when we do it, we love to get guest instructors ... it makes it more of a party.”
The instructors coming from different gyms for a common purpose was important for Linda Klynstra, another organizer.
“I think we all love Zumba,” she said. “It doesn’t matter where you teach, we just want everyone to have fun. As long as you’re coming together for a good cause — it doesn’t matter.”
Jackson said she was impressed with the large turnout.
“We had people come from Homer, and there’s local people,” she said. “So yeah, I’m really happy with how many showed up.”
The Zumba experience can be for everyone, and McCullough summed it up best.
“Fun for the body, fun for the soul,” she said.