Zumba and ministry a passionSports Tuesday, January 29th, 2013
by Angelica Casas
Mara McDonald does not take the phrase “I can’t do that” seriously.
She hears it often, but to her, it is no excuse not to try Zumba.
“Zumba is for everybody,” she said. “It’s really just about having fun.”
McDonald was hired as University Minister last October, filling Mario Serrano’s position, which opened after he became Director of University Ministry. Almost right after being hired, she began teaching Zumba classes on two of the four days the workout is offered in the International Folk Culture Center.
Zumba is an intense dance workout that can burn 500-1,000 calories in an hour, McDonald said. The workouts, which target different areas of the body, are choreographed to different music genres like cumbia, reggaeton, hip- hop, merengue and even flamenco. McDonald choreographs most of the routines.
Constantly throughout the hour, McDonald makes her way to her students and continues the routines next to them. She also stops dancing momentarily throughout the workout to challenge her students to continue without her guidance.
Ending each routine with a motivating “good job,” she goes
straight into the next routine with no intermission.
“When people first see my class, they’re intimidated,” she said. “Don’t judge (Zumba) off of one instructor.”
McDonald, from Indiana, has been teaching Zumba for six years.
She recently taught Zumba at the University of the Incarnate Word, where she also worked for University Ministry.
At UIW, Zumba attracted students to take part in campus ministry and students involved in campus ministry, were convinced to attend Zumba classes, she said. She wants the same effect to occur at Our Lady of the Lake, where she wants to get to know more people.
For McDonald, the classes have become a form of praise and worship because it’s about embracing who God made her and others to be.
“God gave us our lives and our bodies and all of our blessings to take care of,” McDonald said. “It goes with empowerment, dignity and respect.”
Zumba also helps her and others forget their problems.
When her mother was diagnosed with cancer, the distance between them made her feel alone at times. She would cry in her car on the way to Zumba class and remembers thinking, “God, I can’t bring this in with me.” But once she began dancing with her students, it was as if she were offering everything to God, she said.
“People come with problems and it’s like ‘okay, shake it out… literally,’” she said.
After a class once, a student approached her and told her that it was the first time she had smiled in a month.
“I am thankful for that and I take it seriously,” she said. “They give so much to me that they don’t know.”
Zumba classes are offered from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Mondays and those McDonald instructs are from 5:45 to 6:45 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the International Folk Culture Center. Zumba Sentao is offered from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays also in the IFCC. The first Zumba class is free; the IFCC offers 10 classes for $20 or 20 classes for $30.
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