BY JIM HOWE
“If you love to dance, you’re going to love a Zumba class,” says Barbara Mcginley. “Do you love to dance? And get a workout at the same time?”
A highly energized dance class, set to anything from Caribbean salsa to hip-hop, is what Mcginley, a psychiatric nurse at Upstate’s community campus, leads each Monday afternoon for an enthusiastic crowd at the downtown Syracuse YMCA. She also teaches a class at Syracuse’s Unity church.
Mcginley, 65, of Syracuse, had studied African dance and cardio salsa and been an aerobics instructor when she heard about Zumba being offered at the Y about five years ago. Curious, she took some classes, said, “Wow, this is what I want to do,” and soon got certification as a Zumba instructor.
She choreographs each song, which probably takes her students a couple of the hourlong classes to learn. The moves are basic, often repeated and can incorporate fitness moves like squats.
“It’s more like fun moving in a way that you probably have not ever moved, and anybody can do it. We’re here to have fun and to have a workout and enjoy the music, and most people who come into the class come back again,” she said.
She gradually introduces new songs into the mix, since “sometimes the gals (the classes tend to be all or mostly women) like the same songs over and over again.”
“I want my class to feel like you’ve been to a Latin country. Like you just took a mini trip to Puerto Rico or to South America,” she said.
“I love my job,” said Mcginley, who has been a nurse at her campus for 43 years, and Zumba “is a great way to be able to be able to cope with life and its stressors.”
What is Zumba?
Zumba is a trademarked dance and exercise program set to Latin and world music, designed to be simple, energetic and fun. It was created in the 1990s when Colombian aerobics instructor Beto Perez forgot the music for the class he was teaching and improvised with his own Latin music. That happy mistake led to a worldwide sensation. Today, Zumba is practically a lifestyle, with variations including Zumba Kids and Zumba Gold (for seniors) as well as themed clothing, DVDs, cruises and more.
This article appears in the fall 2016 issue of Upstate Health magazine.