First step needed in dancing to better health

MARQUETTE – Participants in the Healthy Lifestyle Journal: Community Wellness Challenge 2013 will dance their way through the final week of the challenge with a Zumbathon at the PEIF Building at Northern Michigan University.

The activity night will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday. This is the second year the PEIF has played host to a Zumbathon, but it’s the first year that the PEIF and Marquette General Hospital have collaborated for the HLJ challenge.

According to Katie Theut, fitness and informal recreational manager of the NMU Intercollegiate Athletics and Rec Sports, she was approached by Deb Sergey, RD, IC supervisor, MGH Wellness Center, about holding an activity night at the PEIF to round out the HLJ program.

“I think this collaboration really encompasses the efforts in pulling together everyone’s energy,” Theut said. “The activity night is going to allow those participating in the challenge in areas such as Ishpeming or Gwinn to experience something they may not be offered in their area.”

Theut noted that Zumba, a Latin-infused dance cardio workout, has grown in popularity and Zumba classes can be found in fitness centers across the Upper Peninsula. Last year, 350 people turned out for the Zumbathon.

“All you have to do is watch the instructor,” Theut said. “The music is energetic and uplifting and there’s no pressure… it’s not about being perfect, it’s just about keeping moving.”

The Zumba sessions will be broken into three segments from 7 to 7:45 p.m., 8 to 8:45 p.m. and from 9 to 9:45 p.m. on the basketball courts.

She added that Zumba, although it is for all ages, may not be for everyone, which is why the PEIF facility will be open free of charge to everyone. Participants can use the exercise machines, swim in the pool or scale the climbing walls.

“It’s all about variety,” Theut emphasized. “When people are trying to adhere to an exercise plan but don’t feel stimulated, they get burned out doing the same things. By opening up the facility and letting people try new things, it might stimulate individuals to pursue new health opportunities.”

Theut said she hopes to collaborate on the HLJ next year and that she feels this is a great way to end the program. She added that she hopes the activity night will instill the idea that the social aspect of wellness is just as important as eating healthy and exercising.

“The event emphasizes the fact that the PEIF is a resource and that social recreation is vital.”

Abbey Hauswirth can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 240.