The Hugh Mills gymnasium on UNG’s Gainesville campus comes to life every Monday and Wednesday evening with loud music, stomping feet and excited cheers in Dr. Shannon Kispert’s 5:30 p.m. Zumba Fitness class.
Kispert, a biology professor at UNG and certified Zumba instructor, leads participants through a series of basic steps that incorporate moves from popular dance styles including merengue, salsa and hip-hop.
According to UNG’s Recreation Sports UNG Connect page, Zumba Fitness mixes “low-intensity and high-intensity moves for an interval-style, calorie-burning dance fitness party.” Kispert also includes strengthening exercises like squats and pushups in the dances for a full-body workout.
“It seems intimidating, but it’s a workout that’s designed for everyone,” Kispert said. “The way [the class is] set up is really an open and accepting environment.”
Kispert’s Zumba Fitness class has grown steadily over the past several months, with fewer than a dozen people in attendance in early September to a group of about 30 now.
“I think it’s word of mouth, I think that’s what does it,” said Dr. Kispert.
Morgan Tickerhoof, a regular participant and staff associate for Student Involvement, helped spread information about the class.
“I just kind of told all the students that I knew,” she said. “I told a few staff members and they ended up telling [other] staff members.”
Kispert’s classes are open to students, faculty and staff, and are gender-inclusive. UNG student Parth Patel is one of the few male participants, but that doesn’t bother him.
“I just wanted to try something new,” Patel said. “I’ve never danced before, so this is a whole new level for me.”
Many regulars in the class love how different it is from traditional cardio workouts.
”You’re constantly moving,” Tickerhoof said. “It doesn’t feel like I’m working out — it just feels like I’m having fun.”
A cardio workout is only one of the many benefits of the class.
“It’s a stress release for me,” said regular class attendee and UNG student Samantha Nardi. “You don’t feel judged. Dr. Kispert is really enthusiastic and it’s a fun way to work out.”
Kispert plans to keep the class in the same place, day and time for the rest of the semester. She hopes to increase the number of classes in the future as space allows.