Zumba gets Mesalands moving

Russell Anglin

This semester, 54 area residents, Mesalands Community College faculty, staff and students have found a new groove in the college’s zumba dance classes.

“They’re actually mainly community members,” zumba instructor Jessica Elebario said. “There’s a few college students in there as well, but mainly community members. A class is 50 minutes. We’re going the whole entire time. You get like maybe a minute break in between. We do about 12-13 songs a session and we’re just constantly moving.”

Zumba, a form of dance-based cardiovascular exercise, is distinct from other dance workouts in its use of a variety of Latin and world music genres, including cumbia, merengue, reggaeton, pop, hip-hop, salsa, Greek music, calypso and African drum music. Elebario’s 6 p.m. Monday class started their workout with a choreographed routine set to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

Dean of Academic Affairs Natalie Gillard said her sister made her aware of zumba.

“I knew it was the rage and so I looked at us offering it,” Gillard said.

Gillard said she contacted Elebario, who is also the senior programs director for the city of Tucumcari, to see if she would be interested in teaching the class. Elebario completed a zumba certification in November and was teaching zumba at Mesalands two weeks later.

“It went really well,” Elebario said of the first eight-week session she taught. “One day I had like eight people register for it. The next day it was like 15 and then the next day it was like 25. We had a full class and we had a lot of fun. I’d say that out of those 25 students probably about 18 of them came back and signed up for the next session.”

Elebario is teaching three zumba sessions this semester. She said the classes cost $88 for 32 sessions, two 50-minute sessions per week for 16 weeks. However, registration for the spring sessions has closed.

Gillard said the college plans to offer the classes during the summer.

First-year student Jonathan Grajeda is one of three males who takes the zumba class and is the only one in his Monday and Wednesday class. He said he was looking for a way to “get my cardio in” so he decided to try the class.

“At first it caught me off guard when I was the only male in there. It felt weird at first, but once you get used to it, it’s fun. I’ve made some friends,” Grajeda said. “I wanted to see how they would dance with the modernized songs and see the variety of it, like how much the songs would actually change and the songs change. It caught me off guard at first. I was like, ‘Woah.’ It got to me, that’s for sure,” Grajeda said. “It hits all the right notes.”

Elebario emphasized the value of her classes to Quay County residents.

“If they’ve ever been interested in it, they should try it, whether it’s coming down here and taking a class or getting a video and doing the video at home. But the difference I’d say in doing the video at home and the class is in the class you feed off other people’s energy and you’re motivated to keep going,” Elebario said. “Believe me, when I’m learning new choreography, it’s very easy to sit down on the couch and watch it.”