UGA Zumba: Stress Reduction and Social Connections

For over 10 years, the University of Georgia (UGA) has offered a Zumba program for beginners and veterans at Ramsey Student Center.

Zumba is a dance fitness program created in the 1990s by Beto Pérez, a Colombian dancer and choreographer. Zumba involves elements of dance and aerobics accompanied by energetic music that is often Latin. The choreography incorporates Hip-Hop, Soca, Samba, Salsa, Merengue, Mambo, squats, and lunges. The website of Zumba Fitness reports that classes are a worldwide phenomenon with over 200,000 locations in 180 countries.

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The Front Desk of Ramsey Student Center. Photo/Hua Zheng

“Ramsey brought in the program to add a popular, inclusive fitness class for its patrons,”  said Scottie Gray, assistant director for fitness and wellness at the UGA.

Ramsey offers several Zumba sessions each semester. Each session is 45 minutes long and taught by a certified instructor.

Dr. Kamal Gandhi says, “Zumba provides me with an outlet for work pressure.”  Dr. Gandhi is originally from India and works as an associate professor in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at UGA. She has been doing Zumba for three years, and she “does not want to stop.”

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“It really really eases my stress, so at the end of Friday that’s my treat.”

-Dr. Kamal Gandhi

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Another long-time patron is Mutlu Shen. “It is like after Zumba you feel positive, [I] feel like I am charged, I exercise good.” Shen is a Turkish PhD candidate in the Learning, Design, and Technology program at UGA. Shen has participated in Zumba classes regularly since the fall of 2016 when she took her first class.

Zumba also offers opportunities to meet people outside of work.

Dr. Gandhi said that Zumba  has “a positive impact on my social life in many different ways” as she “made friends…I see the same people again and again and we feed off each other.”

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Dr. Kamal Gandhi ( in the front row with a blue T-shirt) does Zumba. Photo/Hua Zheng

Dr. Gandhi felt it hard at the start, as Zumba requires the body move with music. Many people have issues with body coordination, so she stayed “way in the back” to avoid anyone seeing her.

But after three years of Zumba, she moves up to the front of the dance floor, right in the front of the mirror to better see how she is dancing and, by dancing, improving herself. Now Dr.Gandhi often jumps into the front of the class to dance with the instructor side by side.

Ramsey’s Zumba instructors are a major reason for the program’s success. Both Dr. Gandhi and Shen mentioned their instructor’s communication skills and clarity of  instruction as reasons why they continue to attend.

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Anie and her husband, Jimmy, dance at Ramsey. Photo/Hua Zheng

Anie Hansen is from Germany and has worked as a full-time Zumba instructor for six years. She teaches the Friday and Sunday classes at Ramsey. Anie pursued Zumba certification on the advice of her husband.

“I love this job,”  Anie said. She is pleased to see people enjoy Zumba and her classes.

This video was recorded during Anie’s Zumba class.

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Kamie gives her Zumba Class. Photo/Hua Zheng

Kamie Amos is another Zumba instructor at Ramsey. A sophomore at UGA, Kamie has been teaching Zumba since she received her Zumba certification last Spring. She teaches classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“I am really excited to see where it goes,” Kamie said, as she can bring varied dances from Zumba to her class.

This video was recorded during Kamie’s Zumba class.

You can find a Zumba class at Ramsey by clicking the exercise icon on the map below: