Zumming into a healthier new year

Published 12:03 am Sunday, January 8, 2012

ERIC SHELTON/THE DEMOCRAT — Cleopathia Turner, left, and Dr. Bernadette Shermaan embrace one another after breaking a sweat during a Zumba fitness class at the Natchez Mall Saturday morning.

NATCHEZ — The Macarena had nothing on the fat-burning Zumba stars at the Natchez Mall Saturday.

More than 50 women of all ages — and a couple of brave young men — jogged in place, flapped their elbows, swung their arms and grapevined across the mall to get fit in 2012.

The women of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Natchez alumnae chapter sponsored the free Zumba class, which mixed Salsa dancing and aerobics with Latin and pop music to get the blood pumping.

“You can tell when they hit a move (the participants) like because you can hear a lot of noise,” said Pam Plummer, the alumni chapter president, following a few “whoops” from the crowd.

Plummer said many of the women made resolutions to get fit and healthy, so the sorority decided to host the class as part of their physical and mental health initiative.

Plummer and her daughters signed up for Weight Watchers, she said.

“But I’ve fallen off the wagon,” she said.

But since the nature of Zumba is so free-spirited, it was easy to fall right back in step to a healthy routine after a quick breather.

“The good thing is, you can get right back in it,” she said.

It was Plummer’s first time experiencing Zumba, but she said she and the other first-timers didn’t have to feel too self-conscious.

“If you don’t get the step, the crowd will never be able to tell as long as you keep moving,” she said.

Plummer said the group members try to encourage each other to be active, emphasizing the difference walking just 30 minutes a day can make.

Yokena Anderson, the chairwoman for the sorority’s health initiative, said the purpose of the class was to kick off the New Year with a fun exercise activity.

And she’s definitely a Zumba fan, she said.

“It’s energetic, mesmerizing, it’s fun and it’s exciting,” Anderson said.

Certified Zumba Instructor Monica Hughey of Vicksburg had all eyes on her and kept up the pace without ever slowing down or letting her smile drop.

“(Hughey) eats, sleeps and lives Zumba,” Anderson said.

The two-hour class also included members of Zeta Phi Beta, Alfa Kappa Kappa and Sigma Gamma Rho undergraduate and alumnae groups, Anderson said.

And while the sweat was pouring, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

“I had a ball,” Anderson said. “The music just makes you want to move.”

Natchez Total Fitness on 99 Northgate Road offers Zumba classes 6 to 7 p.m. Mondays and every other Saturday, including this Saturday. Classes are included in a monthly membership fee of $20.