Zumba heads outdoors for the summer

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During the 10 cooler months of the year, Duluthian Judy Gordon teaches Zumba inside at the YMCA. But when things start to heat up in summer, Gordon takes the music outside.

Every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in July and August, Gordon leads a free Zumba class on the Lakewalk so people can get outside and exercise in Duluth's beautiful summer weather.

"The place where I usually teach Zumba gets to be really hot and stuffy in the summer, so I decided to go outside and try doing Zumba by the lake," Gordon said. "It's just something fun for the community to go and do in the evening."

Zumba is an increasingly popular aerobic workout, featuring a variety of Latin American music and dance styles. Gordon teaches her class just off of the Lakewalk, in the shade in front of Endion Station, so it doesn't get too hot.

"It's a really fun fitness class," Gordon said. "We do Zumba on the Lakewalk and then afterwards, if people want to stay, I play dance music and people can practice all kinds of other fun dancing."

Gordon decided to become a Zumba teacher on a whim eight years ago,

"I saw Zumba in an infomercial before it was ever popular," Gordon said. "I thought it looked like fun, so I went to an instructor training and I've been teaching Zumba ever since."

Gordon says that like dancing, the key to Zumba is great music.

"I choreograph dances to fit music and then it's just follow-the-leader," Gordon said. "Everyone in the class can just watch and follow along. You need great music with repeating refrains, because repetition makes it so much easier to learn the dance, and then you can keep repeating all of the same moves during the refrain, so that everyone can follow along and start to pick up the patterns."

Cindy Taylor has been taking Zumba classes from Gordon for several years. She agrees that it's the music that makes a difference.

"If I'm not moving, I feel old. The music keeps me going and keeps my energy levels up. It's so fun," Taylor said.

Gordon says that over the last several weeks, the Tuesday night classes just keep growing in popularity. She has seen all types of Zumba-goers in her class, from 60-year-old women to 10-year-old boys and everything in between.

"Zumba is fun because it's dancing, but you don't have to be perfect, and everybody does it at their own pace. You can do Zumba really aerobically or less aerobically and everyone, no matter what their age is, can join in and have a good time," Gordon said.

By holding the class outside, Gordon hopes to invite passersbys to join the dance. Taylor said they've already had some interesting experiences with strangers joining the group.

"One time we had an entire wedding party come up and dance with us. They were here for pictures, but saw us and joined the fun," Taylor said.

If you go

WHAT: Zumba Fitness Classes
WHERE: The Lakewalk in front of Endion Station
WHEN: Tuesdays in July and August, 7 p.m.
COST: Free