A Breath of Fresh Air


During the early days of the pandemic, Karla Sluis, a local Zumba instructor, began teaching classes around Durango’s outdoor spaces. The classes encourage students to keep moving and enjoy the beautiful outdoors, in all seasons. Sponsored by Service Master Restore and Express Employment Professionals

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Zumba fitness is a combination of different types of dances from all over the world. And it's considered exercise in disguise because it is so fun and it combines the elements of things like belly dance and what regatone and salsa and merengue and cumbia. So it's based in Latin rhythms.

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Zumba fitness is special in that it combines dance and fitness. So, the folks in Durango who loved their hardcore like CrossFit, that kind of thing, Zumba is, is a more moderate cardio type exercise. But you're definitely going to get your heart rate up. So it's cardio respiratory fitness. You move through all planes of motion. So you're, you're, you're moving this way. You're moving your hips. You're turning around, you're going diagonal. So for folks who run or ride bikes and are doing this very linear movement, it can be great cross training. So it's great for flexibility. And it also is great for strength training because you're building bones when you're doing things like squatting or arm movements like this. So you're getting strength, flexibility, cardio. But then on top of that, all of the emotional benefits, like, you know, exercising with your friends, being outside and stress relief. Because of the pandemic we've had to pivot quite a bit. And what I mean by pivot is not just the pivot. It also means that we've had to pivot by having to change locations. I did a lot of video recordings all over town, including here at the Smiley building, pretty much every park in town and on some bridges and in front of some interesting murals and things like that. So, I did that and I offered that for free for about, about four months to all my students, because everybody was at home and I wanted everyone to stay connected. And then people just really missed being together. But we weren't quite ready to go back to the studio because it felt unsafe to be in an enclosed area. So I thought, you know, we have wonderful weather here most of the year and sunshine, and a lot of people are very hardy with working out outside. So why not just keep doing it? So I started at parks around town, and then I landed at the, the rec center pavilion. And then we finally found the LA Plata County fairgrounds picnic pavilion, the covered area by the rec center. And now in the colder part of winter, we're moving into the Plaza by the exhibit hall because of the sunshine. And what I have found is aside from the fact that we're dancing on concrete, which is hard for some people with their knees, people love it because you get outside. And there's so many emotional benefits from being in the fresh air and having vitamin D on your skin. And we're together again. Zumba is a really special kind of exercise. It's not like anything I've done and I've done group exercise my whole life. It feeds my soul and it connects people in a way that is really beautiful. And what I've heard from my students is the number one reason they keep coming is the mental health benefits. So everyone first comes because they want to fit good, they want to fit nicely in their clothes and they want to get a good workout, but they come back because it helps them release stress. And that's so important during a time of pandemic. And my feeling is that dance is a human thing. It's for everyone, everyone feels rhythm. Everyone loves music. You see little kids, they just get it. They come right up and start dancing.


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