Dance Program Will Get Heart Pumping



Andy Towle/Roundup

Pearl Robinson has the right rhythm for Zumba® — moving hands, feet, waist and hips to the Latin beats of Columbia, the Caribbean, Spain and Mexico.


Andy Towle/Roundup

Christy Walton


Andy Towle/Roundup

While the Zumba® classes at Club USA are filled, instructor Christy Walton will offer a sample of the popular dance exercise at the Women’s Wellness Forum on March 7. Among the students currently enjoying the program are (from left) Chelsea Wright, Pearl Robinson, Janet Nossek, Gary Walton, Cathy Vance and Abigail Pederson.

Get your heart pumping to a Latin beat in the opening session of the 2009 Women’s Wellness Forum.

The day devoted to women’s health and wellness will start with a sampling of a popular dance exercise called Zumba® presented by Christy Walton.

The program might be calling it Karoomba, which was developed by Walton after she had a chance to take the Zumba® program, but before she was able to obtain her formal certification. She was awarded certification recently, so the 7 a.m. opening session is now officially a Zumba® program.

Walton has offered the dance exercise program at Club USA since November 2007 and it is so popular the classes are always full. There is so much interest she is hoping to get one of her students — who has a dance background — certified in Zumba® to offer more classes.

Walton, who is the director of the Gila Family Advocacy Center and was formerly with the school district’s parent liaison office, has taught dance for about 30 years. In fact, her initial goal when she entered college was to obtain a degree in dance. She earned a minor instead, but kept dance in her life. In addition to teaching regular dance classes and dance exercise programs, Walton has also worked as a choreographer. She has helped with student productions at Payson High School and worked with “Dancing Grannies” groups.

She took her first Zumba® class at a YMCA in the Valley and fell in love with it.

“It uses the kind of music that gets into your soul and gives you an incredible release and emotional balance,” she said.

Walton also likes the business plan the program offers instructors and the fact that the choreography is suggested, not required.

The music in Zumba® is mostly a variety of Latin rhythms; including cumbia, from Columbia; merengue from Haiti/Dominican Republic; salsa, which is a distillation of many Latin and Afro-Caribbean dances; flamenco; bachata, a popular guitar music from the Dominican Republic; reggaeton, a relatively new genre of dance music that has become popular in Puerto Rico over the last decade; and even belly dance.

“I knew the moves, but not what they were called,” Walton said.

Zumba® was founded by Beto Perez in Columbia. The aerobics instructor forgot to bring his program’s music and so substituted songs from his own collection and his students loved it.

Zumba® was created by Perez in the mid-90s. He brought Zumba® Fitness to the U.S. in 1999 and it has become one of the fastest-growing, dance-based fitness crazes in the country, with people of all ages falling in love with its infectious music, easy-to-follow dance moves, and body-beautifying benefits.

Walton said people can use the program with any level of dance skills and at any fitness level. It is great for both women and men, though right now her classes are mostly women, with only a couple of men participating.

Registration is now open for the 11th Annual Women’s Wellness Forum, which features the theme “Pearls on the Path.” The forum is Saturday, March 14 at the Payson High School campus.

This event is designed to help women re-balance, renew the inspiration within, re-create and illuminate a path to wellness.

Following Walton’s Zumba® sampler program, attendees can enjoy a continental breakfast as they collect their registration materials and then hear opening remarks and the keynote address.

The featured speakers are Pauline Napier and Michelle Napier-Dunnings, who will present the program “Trusting the Healing Wisdom Within” through stories and reflections that offer the team’s perspectives on health and wellness.

They will further explore this belief in one of the breakout sessions following the keynote presentation.

Napier and Napier-Dunnings will offer “Tapping the Healing Energy Within” which builds on the ideas presented in the keynote address. Participants will engage in an interactive session where small groups will explore their historical culture and its impact on their individual well-being today. They will look at how “wellness” feels, looks and sounds.

The schedule for the day allows for three programs for each participant. Other programs: Qigong for Health and Well-Being with Penny Navis-Schmidt; Face Reading, Annemarie Eveland; A Purse Driven Life based on the book “Total Money Makeover” led by Jeri Byrne; Making the Most of Uncertain Markets with Kevin Dick; a Home Depot Do-It-Herself Workshop with Dane Owens; The Wisdom of Wellness — Understanding Your Body with Kendra C. Ringle, LMT; Psych-K, a user-friend way to re-write the software of your mind with Vivian Seville; and Your Path to Good Health (through food) with chef, Derek Wimpee.

Following the breakout sessions, participants will be treated to a luncheon and door prize drawings in the vendor hall.

Qualified participants can apply for a free mammogram when they register for the forum. The cost is $10 per person, but scholarships are available. However, there is room for only 300 participants.

To learn more and to register, call the Mogollon Health Alliance at (928) 472-2588.


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