MERIDEN — Despite Monday’s hot and humid weather, the conditions did not keep a group of local women from having fun at an outdoor Zumba class at Hubbard Park.
Smiles could be seen in the face of the instructor as well as the students who energetically danced and clapped through a number of songs.
Penny Delahanty, of Meriden, taught the class in an outfit displaying a variety of neon colors while guiding the students through movements synced up with the music.
Delahanty handed students colorful rags they could wave around as they danced, adding another visual spectacle to the class.
Delahanty has been a Zumba instructor for 10 years. She always had a passion for dancing, so her husband inspired her to take her first Zumba class in 2009.
In 2010, she was diagnosed with stage three kidney disease. While she’s living her “childhood dream of dancing,” she also uses Zumba to raise funds in support of the National Kidney Foundation.
Delahanty recently went on a Meriden Facebook forum to ask if the community had any interest in outdoor Zumba classes. She received a positive response.
The first class took place on July 12. Additional classes will go on every other Monday at 6 p.m. until Oct. 25.
She wanted to hold the classes to benefit the community, which is why she is asking for an optional $2 donation, but does not turn anyone away if they can’t pay.
“I’m not all about money, I’m just about bringing people together, watching people smile, have a good time, de-stress and let all your troubles just go away,” she said.Benefits of Zumba
“I just feel adamant that people need to release stress,” Delahanty said. “I just know with Zumba, and any kind of form of fitness, is just a huge stress reliever for me.”
With Zumba, she wants to help people deal with the pandemic, release stress and have fun.
Zumba provides an hour of the day where people don’t need to think about anything else other than having fun, she said. Music reaches people’s souls, lifting them up and turning a bad day into a good day, Delahanty added.
Delahanty has seen a mix of cultures in outdoor classes including some Latinos.
Zumba normally includes a variety of Spanish songs. Delahanty said that although she doesn’t always understand the words, the rhythm is what gets to her.
Tthe reason Zumba includes a lot of Spanish music is because it has a format that is supposed to take you around the world in one hour.
She said cumbia, reggaeton, salsa and dembow are some of the rhythms that can typically be found in her playlists.
Jasmine Ellison, of Meriden, was one of the students in Monday’s class. She attended in an effort to stay active. Her workout routines include dance and cardio, which keep her interested and not bored.
“For me, dance and fluid workouts, they really, really help me just keep my mind, body and soul active and focused.”
Though Ellison is not Latino, the culture is “very, very dear to my heart,” she said and explained she grew up with Latinos. She said she can read and write in Spanish and even published a bilingual children’s book.
Elizabeth Falcon, of Meriden, also took part in the class. She also attended the first class and liked it so decided to attend the second one.
Her favorite part was “getting out,” “being outside,” she said.
“It gets the whole family out of the house, my boyfriend and daughter are at the playground and I brought my mom and sister,” she said.
Falcon, who is Puerto Rican, said enjoys the Spanish music. Prior to starting the class, she said she was looking forward to “the music, getting moving.”
Delahanty will offer outdoor Zumba Aug. 2, 16, and 30th; Sept. 13 and 27; and Oct. 11 and 25.
Students can register prior to each class on eventbrite but it is not a requirement.