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Ditch the workout, join the Zumba party

With her bright pink hair and neon green pants, Jessica Sands is ready to work out. The group exercise class she is teaching seems like any other – women standing around, anxiously awaiting for Jessica to make her way to the front of the class.

Then Jessica starts the music. The upbeat tempo and energizing rhythms gets the class moving. Jessica smiles as she shimmies and shakes her hips to the beat of the music.

No, the women are not at a nightclub; they are at Zumba class at the Greater Pittston YMCA. Zumba is a fitness dance party that is based on Latin-inspired music. The Zumba motto: “Ditch the workout, join the party.”

And join the party is exactly what Greater Pittston YMCA instructor Jessica Sands did. Tired of being self-conscious and unhappy with her appearance, Sands began an exercise routine. “I quickly realized that working out was not fun! I hated it!” said Sands in reference to her gym visits. “Once, while going to use the elliptical for my cardio and dreading every minute to get there, I passed a sign that said ‘Join the Party with Zumba Fitness.’ I thought to myself, a fitness class that is like a party? This has got to be better than a machine.”

Sands decided to check out her first Zumba class. Nervous and apprehensive, Sands stood in the back of the class. By the end of the session, she was hooked. “I loved the dancing, although I must tell you I was horrible and awkward at first. But it never felt like a workout!”

Sands regularly began taking classes, revolving her schedule around class times. Soon, the pounds started to melt away. Sands lost 30 pounds and toned her body by performing Zumba and following a healthy diet.

Wanting to help more people get started on the road to fitness, in January 2009 Jessica obtained her Zumba instructor certification. Since then she has gone on to obtain certifications in Zumba Gold, Zumba Toning, Aqua Zumba, and recently she received her AFAA Primary Group Exercise Certification. “If you asked me 2 years ago if I would ever be doing this, I would have thought you must be kidding me! I would have never set foot in a gym.”

Now, the woman who once referred to herself as “awkward” and “silly” in her first Zumba classes is one of the most sought after Zumba instructors in the area. Her classes continue to fill up. Her enthusiasm and energy draws people to her class and keeps them coming back for more. “Zumba is an awesome, fun way to exercise,” said avid Zumba participant, Barb Moeller. “Jess’s enthusiasm keeps me going and moving in more way I never thought I could.”

To take a Zumba class with Jessica Sands, stop by the Greater Pittston YMCA today. Jessica teaches Monday and Wednesday 9-10 a.m. and Thursday 5:30-6:30 p.m. For more information, contact Kelly McCabe, Fitness Director, at 570-655-2255 ext 104.

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