The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday December 2nd

Exercise classes shake up stress and expectations

'Tis the season for academic stress, emotional strain, and unwanted weight gain. The holidays, once relaxing times, have matured along with us into times of binges of both book and food. I struggled to greet my relatives on Thanksgiving with my arms full of textbooks and visions of research papers dancing in my head. Luckily there was a welcomed distraction: the fully stocked refrigerator. Of course, after the annual turkey dinner it feels like only moments before Christmas cookies, Chanukah latkes or any multicultural treat you consume are clogging both homes and arteries. I don't mean to dwell on the obvious increase in calories that come inevitably every winter season. And I don't want to suggest that we all need to become concerned about looking slim when we don our gay apparel. But like it or not, exercising will help manage the end of semester stress and slow the mounting poundage of the holidays. After semesters of combating cardio, whining through weights, and yammering during yoga, I think I finally found an exercise that doesn't make me cringe. Instead, it makes me shake. Its name is Zumba. Fun to say and fun to do. Basically, Zumba is an hour-long cardio workout class that uses high-energy dance moves set to a soundtrack of popular club music. Maybe the technical definition doesn't get your blood pumping, but imagine an SRC studio packed with students shaking it like a saltshaker. It's like going to Players, minus the creepy middle-aged men watching you groove. I was not properly prepared for my first Zumba experience. I was told it was like a dance class, so my former-ballerina-self reached for a leotard and leggings and started stretching on the studio floor. Luckily my friend pulled me up before I was squashed under the stampede of hip-hop stomps when class began. There is nothing tame about the dance combos. You will be rolling, popping and shaking like you are in a 50 Cent video. Participants laugh and chat in between dance numbers, and class becomes one big dance party instead on an intimidating, boring hour of exercise. I was shocked to find the room was packed with students. Careful where you shake your moneymaker or you might get a bit too friendly with your neighbor. Only a few semesters old, Zumba has managed to become one of the most popular group fitness classes offered on campus. Zumba has escaped the mere drudgery of working out and reached social club status. Friends attend class together. Dance groups show up to learn some new moves. Campus clubs have used Zumba as an hour to bump and bond. And you know it has reached the big time since Zumba is now a Facebook Group. The group includes a listing of songs used in class, and members can post their favorites on the wall so the instructors know that everyone wants to get down to. Try it out. The thought of group exercise might be enough for you to hide behind the treadmills, or you might find Zumba gets your endorphins bounding just in time for the stress of exams. Contact Rachel Brody at


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