Hip swinging, shoulder shaking: Zumba is Hay River’s newest craze

The fitness trend that swept from South America to North America to the rest of the world has, perhaps surprisingly, made its way up to Hay River.
Zumba fitness classes have started up and Hay River, and have only grown in popularity since the class’s introductory week. More than 50 people came out on the first night, almost at capacity for the school gymnasium.
Zumba is coined as a “Latin-inspired fitness program,” where potential participants, fun seekers or hard body hopefuls are being told to “ditch the workout and join the party,” or “party themselves into shape.”


International music is blended with instructional, high energy, Latin-inspired dance moves into a trend that has morphed into DVDs, CDs, and a sweaty cult-like following. But for Rymhs, it was a chance to bring something new to Hay River.
“This is one of the more recognizable fitness programs (with a reputation),” she said.
“We don’t always see that in small towns. You could buy the video and that would normally be as close as you get. In Canada you don’t get to hear Latin music all the time or dance the way you can dance to it. It’s something that gets people moving their bodies in a different, new way, so it’s good.”
Rymhs said she made personal fitness a goal of hers years ago, but when she tried Zumba, she met her match.
“When I tried it,” she said, “I forgot it was exercise. I had some people who were non-exercisers come to my first class and they’ve been to almost every class since.”
Taking the teacher’s training course in Kelowna, Rymhs said she had a vision for the program in Hay River.  But she wasn’t sure how it would go over.
She set up an introductory week for residents to try the program out free of charge and was met with resounding results. For two of those days, classes were at 6 a.m., and well attended. A feat for many Hay Riverites not usually known for early rising.
“It’s encouraging for me because that means people like it,” she said. “Zumba is something I always wanted to do but we didn’t have it here. I wanted to be able to take it in a class where I knew someone.”
As a fitness-savvy individual, Rymhs also said she has noticed growth in exercise programs available for adults in Hay River.
“We’ve seen a massive increase in opportunity for physical activity for adults in the past two years,” said Rymhs. “I know in the North there’s a big push on healthy living and this works in that it’s accessible in a fun way.”
Rymhs energetic instruction and the devoted attendance speak volumes, but she also said that changes in energy and muscle mass for those devoted attendees would also create sound waves.
“Usually people’s bodies adapt to exercise programs,” she said.  “This workout is always changing the order and intensity of things, so your body can’t adapt. It’s keeping your body surprised, so that’s a good thing.”
Rymhs is also looking into teacher training for kids ages 7-12 and seniors, and may be offering classes here, depending on need.
“What we’re emphasizing in class is the ‘so what’ mentality,” she said. “If you’re body is moving and it’s benefitting you, then that’s a good thing.”
As with any exercise program, it is advisable to consult a health professional before starting an exercise program.
Currently there are classes six days a week, both morning and evening sessions, and schedules are available online.
For more information and for the Hay River class schedule and location, visit www.zumba.com.