-Instructor Delicia Murdock, of West Baltimore, leads a free Zumba exercise class at Y of Central Maryland's Waverly branch Saturday morning. (Photo by Karen Jackson / December 31, 2013)

Ten women could have been out shopping for post-Christmas deals at the malls, or using their gift cards, or kicking back at home with family and friends, enjoying their presents and what was left of the holidays.

Instead, they arrived at large studio with a bank of mirrors at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Y of Central Maryland, in Waverly, wearing sweats and carrying bottles of water. Then, they proceeded to exercise to music with a driving beat.

"This is the place to be," said Cassandra Wilson, who came from Catonsville with her two daughters, Maddie Wilson, 8, and Briana Williams, 14.

The occasion was a free Zumba class, open to the public regardless of whether they were members of the Y.

"I was looking forward to this class all week," said Sharicca Boldon, 36, of Mount Washington.

The class, offered weekly on Saturdays from 10-11 a.m., was led by Zumba-certified instructor Delicia Murdock, 32, of west Baltimore. Murdock, whose main job is as a government contractor, said she has been dancing since her mother arranged for her to take ballet lessons when she was 3. In recent years, she had missed dancing, and when a friend told her about Zumba, she paid $200 for a certification class in Washington.

A month later, she started teaching at the Waverly Y, which had an opening for a Saturday Zumba instructor, she said.

"Everyone's New Year's resolution is to exercise more," said Murdock, who brought two of her Christmas presents to the class, a new iPhone that she plugged into the studio's surround sound system, and the new Beyonce CD. "I think that's when (the Y's) memberships ramp up as well."

That's true. The Y of Central Maryland, with 12 Y's in the region, is projecting 11,000 new memberships in January for all 12 Y's combined, said Sara Milstein, a spokeswoman for the organization. A breakdown for the Waverly Y exists, but was not immediately available, Milstein said.

Anecdotally, member services representative Sherane Scully said Saturday that she was seeing "a big rush" of people coming in with memberships they'd received as Christmas gifts, or signing up for memberships, in keeping with their New Year's resolve to exercise more.

For Lela Campbell, 48, of downtown Baltimore, the New Year's resolution came early, about three months ago, when she decided to start an exercise regimen and purchased a Y family plan membership at the Waverly Y, in hopes that her family would join her.

Some have, "but not like I'd like them to," said Campbell, executive director of A Step Forward, a nonprofit agency that helps the homeless and others in need. She still holds out hope that her family will follow in a bigger way.

"Hopefully, they'll see the results in me and jump on board," she said.

For Boldon, the class was a stress reliever and a return to form that she said she had been missing after her doctor said she had high blood pressure and recommended that she take a two-month hiatus from exercising.

"I've never had a doctor tell me not to exercise," said Boldon, who works for the Greater Homewood Community Corp. as a community school site coordinator at Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle School in Charles Village.

"Keep going. Good job," Murdock, the instructor, exhorted during the hour-long class.

It being the holidays, "I want to spend time with my family, but at least get my workout in first," said Kizzy Ross, 36, of Northwood.

For some of the women, the draw was the Waverly Y itself.

"It's got great service," said Wilson, who said she could have gone to a Y closer to home in Catonsville, but came to Waverly because of its service, programs ranging from swimming lessons to a day care room, and also for its sense of camaraderie.

"I know everybody and they know me," she said. "It's the best Y in America."

Zumba itself is a draw, said Murdock, who described it as a Latin-flavored, but flexible exercise program that incorporates elements of contemporary, jazz and ballet dance moves.

"Everybody can relate to Zumba," Murdock said. "The dance moves are very hip. It's family-friendly. You can't do anything wrong. If you're moving, you're Zumba-ing."

And she said Zumba can be adapted to all age groups, with programs ranging from Zumba-tonic for children to Zumba Silver for seniors.

"Thank you so much, ladies," Murdock said as the class ended. "Next Saturday, be ready. Bring your water. We're going to have a great time."

The day was still young and Ross was thinking about taking her daughter to the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum on North Avenue. After that, she wasn't sure where she would go on the final Saturday of the holiday season.

"Maybe to the mall," she said, grinning.