MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Dionne Scott sat in the main lobby on the couch organizing papers before getting ready to teach her Zumba® class inside Blue Life Karate on Springfield Ave, where she works as an instructor two days a week. She looked up with a soul warming smile, bouncy tight curls, and an energetic attitude that could brighten anyone’s day. Each and every person was greeted that walked through those front doors. Zumba is not gender, race, or ethnicity specific. People from all walks life come together for this Latin-inspired calorie burning fitness class. One thing was evident; each person had one thing in common, a particular item that meant business, a sweat rag.
Most people assume that because she is a Zumba instructor she has a dance background, not in this case. She has a fitness background, not dance. “You don’t need a dance background to become an instructor because it is a type of fitness class first,” says Scott.
Carol Blowe, an older woman who is a faithful student to Scott’s class said, “I lost 45 pounds last year, mostly due to Zumba. It’s so addictive. A good addiction. She’s a phenomenal instructor.”
She remembers reading an article that stated about 14 million people around the world are taking Zumba classes on a weekly basis. The Zumba fitness program has reached countries like Germany, Sweden, Australia, China, and Japan. It’s growing rapidly and she is proud to be a part of the new sensation. At the rate that it is becoming popular, Scott hopes in the future to open up her own fitness gym where Zumba classes will be held.
The fast paced and up-tempo beats of Reggaeton and Hip-Hop artist like Daddy Yankee and Pitbull are commonly heard during Dionne Scott’s Zumba class. She not only found a career that she loves, but it keeps her in tip-top shape while having tons of fun. Scott encourages everyone to at least try Zumba once because it may end up being their new favorite form of exercising.
“People love anything Daddy Yankee or Pitbull. They have Zumba music on lock down, but my favorite salsa artist is Marc Anthony. Whether it’s his fast tempo, up-tempo, or mid tempo songs, it’s great because when you really get into the music that’s when the dancing takes over and you don’t think about the exercise aspect.”
Growing in Brooklyn, Scott was never an athlete because she was shy, and did not want to get hurt by playing any sports. It was not until she got into her thirties that she started taking group exercise and kickboxing classes. From a young girl with no intentions of ever being athletic to a Zumba instructor certified in group fitness and toning.
People of all ages come to take her class. “It’s like you come in a bad mood or something but after class you are in a great mood. You dance your stress away,” says Charlene Gomez, one of the teenagers who loves this class and has been attending for about two years.
During the beginning of class she starts with a warm-up for about eight to ten minutes. Being that it is a fitness class first, her main goal is to keep everyone safe. She tries to do an interval class, which means after the warm up she will do a mid tempo, then a fast tempo, and then bring it back down to mid tempo again. Last, a cool down takes place where a little bit of yoga is involved.
In August, Scott hopes to get certified in two specialty Zumba classes. One is called Zumba Sentao, which is an intense class that uses a chair as a prop. The other is Zumbatomic, which is geared toward ages four to twelve. While in Orlando at the Zumba convention, instuctors can take workshops to become licensed in three days or take specialty classes to learn about new and different types of Zumba. Some of the unique classes offered include Aqua Zumba, Zumba Toning, and Zumba Gold, which is for older active adults. Zumbini is a “mommy and me” class for participants with infants or toddlers up to the age of three that will be introduced for its first year at the convention.
“This is a ‘I like that you’re exercising but it doesn't feel like you’re actually exercising.’ The thing about Zumba is they say it is exercise in disguise,” she said excitedly while repositioning herself on the couch.
Scott stays in great shape from all the classes she teaches during the week. Monday she teaches Zumba at South Mountain YMCA. Tuesday and Thursday she teaches Zumba at Blue Life Karate in Maplewood. Saturday mornings she teaches Zumba at Inspirational Dance in Maplewood. A membership is not required to take any of her classes. You could drop in for that day and pay $10 or buy a discounted ten-class card.
Dionne Scott runs her own blog that keeps people updated on all the classes she is teaching during the week. You can check out awesome pictures or watch really fun workout Zumba videos. If you click on the blog tab, not only will you learn about Zumba through her eyes, but you will learn more about Scott through her weekly posts. One of her interesting posts is entitled, “Negative Calories Food?” You will learn a little more about losing calories than you may think you know. Check out her website at www.dionnescott.Zumba.com.
The girl who disliked the possibility of getting hurt or playing a sport, could be your “go to” instructor for an amazing Zumba, kickboxing, or toning experience. Dancing your stress away will be even more rewarding when you realize how many calories you just burned. Although you may be dripping in sweat, the entire hour will be worth it. That’s what you brought the towel for, remember?
The best advice she could give is, “Open yourself up to it. Because a lot of people will say I don’t know how to dance, I’m not coordinated. Zumba is for everybody!”
She headed inside the fitness room, where her students were awaiting anxiously. The music was turned up high and you could feel the thumping of the beats through your bones. The catchy music made you dance even if your body said otherwise. In front of the mirror she excitedly began the warm up.
This fitness dance party is not geared specifically toward women. She encourages men get involved as well. Scott said if they try it once they will have just as much fun. She knows many instructors who have males in their classes that will try to incorporate more fitness exercises such as jumping jacks, pushups, and planks to cater them as well.
“But what other place would a guy like to be than in a class of all women?” Scott says with a chuckle.
· Dionne Scott – www.dionnescott.zumba.com
· BLUE LIFE KARATE AND FITNESS CENTER - 1809 Springfield Avenue, Maplewood
· INSPIRATIONAL DANCE STUDIO - 1634 Springfield Avenue, Maplewood
· SOUTH MOUNTAIN YMCA - 13 Jefferson Avenue, Maplewood
The reporter is a student participating in hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Kean University's Department of Communication.