Now in its ninth year, the YMCA Zumbathon will take place once again later this month. Thanks to your donations, we’ve raised nearly £4,000 so far to help beat cancer. This year, we’re raising money for ‘Renew’, the YMCA Club’s cancer rehabilitation programme. Our senior Zumba Instructor, Marilena and Zumbathon superfan, Dominique, explain why we should keep on dancing and keep on giving….
Dominique - the loss of a loved one
“I’ve been coming to Zumbathon since the beginning - I’ve done all of them! I do it to raise money and awareness. My sister, Marie Francoise, was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago. Eventually she was clear for five years, but it came back and spread from her neck to her pelvis. She had chemotherapy for four-and-a-half years, but she passed away last year, three days before the Zumbathon. I didn’t want to take part, but I did it for her. We knew she wouldn’t make it - it was sad, but that’s life. She was 60. When I do the Zumbathon this month, it will be a year since she passed away. It’s still quite raw.
I was referred to the YMCA Club nearly 15 years ago, because I had a slipped disk. My doctor told me I needed to build up muscles in my back, otherwise I’d end up in a wheelchair. He said I needed to exercise. At 57, Zumba keeps me up and running. If I don’t exercise, my muscles weaken and I have problems walking. My back went down over Christmas because I didn’t do any classes. I really felt it! Exercise is good for my back. Zumba keeps me in shape and stops me putting on too much weight. It’s also good for my wellbeing.
“I love Zumba - it’s in my DNA!”
Nearly one hundred people go to Zumbathon. Each instructor has their own slot with different music and different steps, but the same principle. You can do whatever you want - the whole thing or just half an hour. I try to do the whole thing without breaks. I know all of the instructors and I like their music. I know most of the steps! Some slots are very low impact and others are high impact.
Zumba is a work out that’s good for my heart, mind, body and soul. It pushes me more than if I was on my own on the gym floor. I love the adrenalin and exercising to South American tunes. I feel good about myself and I’m happy for the rest of the day. I feel much better for it.
Joining this gym is not just about doing exercise, it’s also about the social side. I’ve met many lovely people here. We go out for a drink or go to a restaurant together, which is nice. The social side is just as important as the exercise.
“Everyone should try Zumbathon once”
Come to Zumbathon, even if you haven’t done any Zumba before or you don’t think you’re fit enough. Zumba is an exercise where you don’t have to push yourself if you don’t want to. If you find it difficult, just go lower. Like any exercise, just do what you can. You don’t have to follow the steps exactly – we’re not sheep! We are people of different shapes and ages. At the end of the day, you’re doing a good workout for yourself. Who cares if anyone is better than you?
It’s a blast and you’ll really enjoy it, even if it’s only for half an hour. It’s a nice atmosphere and good for your interior as well as your exterior. Just join in and move for a good cause - it’s good to help other people. My best advice is to enjoy yourself!”
Marilena – “Anyone can Zumba!”
“I’ve been teaching Zumba for the last eight years and I’ve been involved in YMCA’s Zumbathon for the last six years. Zumba is a dance fitness workout using Latin rhythms designed to make exercise more fun. People love dancing and fitness, so it’s the perfect combination! You learn different rhythms like Merengue and Salsa. Bring your friends even if they’re not members. Zumbathon is open to everyone.
People keep coming back every year because they love dancing. Some want a Zumbathon every month! Maybe there’s a few frustrated dancers out there. You feel exhilarated during and after Zumba and there’s also a great sense of community. The music takes over – it’s like a big party!
“Zumbathon is like a very long Zumba class”
We have about four instructors because you can’t have one person teaching for four hours. Instructors give a lot more because the minute they take it easy, everybody else takes it easy! Zumbathon is a mixture of Zumba (dance only) and Zumba Toning (weights). As it’s both low and high intensity, you can take it at your own pace. Lots of people last four hours, but you can take a break and come back or just do two hours or less– we’re not strict! It’s a relaxed atmosphere. It’s about dancing, working out and having fun for a good cause.
Dancing keeps you young and produces endorphins which make you feel good. People are committed to Zumbathon - they always work hard and do their best. There’s fun in the midst of exhaustion. They love that feeling.
“Come and join us!”
If you’re new, it’s an opportunity to meet people and find out about our Zumba classes. It’s a nice way to socialise and you’re burning calories and getting fit at the same time. Sometimes we go for food and drinks afterwards. Come on your own or with friends.
If you like dancing, you’ll enjoy Zumbathon.”
Dos and don’ts
Do register with Terri.Siabi@ymca.co.uk if you’re a non-member. It’s the YMCA Club’s standard procedure for everyone to complete a Physical Readiness Questionnaire.
Do try and attend the warm up at midday. If you can’t make this, do take the time to stretch before you start to avoid any injury. Do take it easy to begin with.
Don’t forget your sports bra if you’re a woman! Wear an outfit and trainers that you can move comfortably in. Bring another set if you sweat a lot and want to change (the Zumbathon lasts four hours).
Do give whatever you can afford. Our recommended donation is a minimum of £5.
We have a collection bucket at the Zumbathon.
Don’t feel pressurised to complete the whole four hours. Feel free to take a break and come back later. Just do what you can.
Do enjoy yourself!
Renew runs in partnership with https://www.trekstock.com/, a charity which gets young people moving again following a cancer diagnosis. This twelve-week bespoke exercise programme was established at the YMCA Club in 2014 and rehabilitates nearly 100 cancer survivors every year. All of Renew’s clients are referred by Trekstock.
Our qualified Personal Trainers (PTs) at Renew have completed their Level 3 Diploma in ‘Exercise Referral’ and their Level 4 Diploma in ‘Exercise and Cancer Rehabilitation’. The 2019 Zumbathon bursary will pay for a qualified PT in ‘Exercise Referral’ to study for their Level 4 Diploma in ‘Exercise and Cancer Rehabilitation’. Once qualified, they will join the Renew team to expand their amazing work.