November 17, 2017

Get Moving – How Zumba and Other Movement Classes Can Help the Body and Mind

By Rebecca Alexander

Finding the motivation to workout can be difficult, but what if there was a way to get in a great workout while dancing? Movement classes, such as Zumba, are a fun option.

Good for the body

Dancing to the beat of the music and constantly moving gets your heart rate up and allows the dancer to workout without even recognizing they are breaking a sweat. Zumba provides a cardio workout, while also providing a toning form of exercise. “Dance is a great way to improve coordination while enhancing strength and balance,” said Jamie Lang of Mission Health’s Wellness Program.

“It’s an overall body workout,” added Taylor Foss, who can often be spotted on the front row of the Zumba classes at Mission Health’s Wellness Center. In addition to the movement of the dancing itself, she said the Zumba classes will occasionally incorporate light weights and repetitive movements, such as squats.

Good for the mind

For Foss, who serves as Senior VP Organizational Transformation for Mission Health, dance is a way to release stress that builds up from daily life and to just have fun. Not only is dancing great for the body, it is also good for your mind. Foss feels the benefits of how Zumba keeps her mind active. “Dance is a way to melt the stress of the day away, so by the time I get home, I am happier and ready to relax and unwind,” said Foss.

Lang couldn’t agree more. “Movement classes are beneficial in many ways, including developing more social relationships, increasing your physical activity and managing stress,” she said.

No experience necessary

Foss has been dancing for as long as she can remember. “I’ve been in dance since I was four years old. I took ballet, tap and modern.”

But, she wants to point out that anyone can get involved with the movement and dance classes at the Wellness Center. “The classes are light hearted, fun and inclusive,” said Foss. “People feel very comfortable being there together. We’re all shapes and sizes in this class, and we’re all just trying to get some exercise.”

Zumba instructors will also offer modifications to specific moves, so even those with certain restrictions of movement can participate. “I can’t do a lot of the turns since I have vertigo,” said Foss. “But that’s okay, you just do one turn instead – it’s great, because anyone can do it.”

Her biggest tip for Zumba beginners is to remember that everyone was new at some point. Foss also emphasized that beginners “shouldn’t be so hard on themselves, try and enjoy yourself and know that you’re there to have fun!” She also recommended finding Zumba videos online to practice some basic Zumba moves to feel more prepared for your first class.

Jaime Lang, MPH, is a Team Lead for the Mission Health Wellness Services.

The MyHealthyLife™ Wellness Services offers a variety of movement classes to promote physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being to awaken the body’s capacity for wellness. To learn more or to find a class that’s right for you, visit or call (828) 213-8250.