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Zumbathon brings out the bright, the zany, the enthusiastic

Zumba insructor Laura Sines leads Sunday's Zumbathon to benefit the Freedom Area Recreation Council at the South Carroll Senior and Community Center in Eldersburg.
Zumba insructor Laura Sines leads Sunday's Zumbathon to benefit the Freedom Area Recreation Council at the South Carroll Senior and Community Center in Eldersburg. (DYLAN SLAGLE/STAFF PHOTO, Carroll County Times)

SYKESVILLE - They moved to the music, their pace quickening with the beat. Left arm to right knee, right arm to left knee.

The group of more than 65 punched the air in synchronized motions as "Can't Hold Us" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis blared from the speakers, the song telling the group: "Tonight is the night, we'll fight 'till it's over."

In actuality, it was a Sunday morning at the South Carroll Senior and Community Center. The group had taken over the gym for a two-hour Zumbathon to benefit the Freedom Area Recreation Council before the council's annual health expo from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. They were a diverse bunch of men and women of varying ages, many clad in bright oranges, greens, pinks and blues.

That's the Zumba way, said Tracy Cox, Freedom Fitness director and Zumba instructor. It's a chance to embrace a person's inner 4-year-old, wearing bright colors and outfits with plenty of shine and bling.

Zumba is a Latin, international and pop exercise class taught by an instructor. It's grown in popularity and, Cox said, caters to a wide array of people.

"This is where the real reality is - people from all walks of life, all ability levels," she said. "It's passion. It's fun. It just has changed the landscape of fitness."

It's an energy that's electric, a workout that doesn't feel like a chore, Cox said. The dances build a sense of camaraderie among Zumba regulars.

"It moves you," Cox said, "and that's the whole key to any fitness endeavor - you've got to want to do it."

Indeed, the crowd cheered in tandem as the intro to the song "Timber" by Pitbull, featuring Ke$ha, began to play.

"Swing your partner round and round," and each person grabbed another and laughed as they do-si-doed together.

The music is a language of its own, said Laura "Lulu" Sines, a Zumba instructor at Quest Fitness in Ellicott City. It forges friendship, she said, like hers with Jan Smith, a Freedom Fitness Zumba instructor.

Jackie Serra and Judy Jones are Zumba regulars - taking the class about three times a week at Freedom Fitness - who decided to take on the two-hour Zumbathon challenge. It's the Freedom Area Recreation Council's second annual Zumbathon, though last year's was done in the spring and netted about half the number of attendees, according to Cox.

It was fun watching what songs each of the morning's 10 licensed instructors decided to play and to follow their movements, Serra said. And it's a great stress relief.

That's one of the aspects of Zumba 13-year-old Darby McMonagle said she enjoys - just coming to the class after a hard school day and moving around with her mother, Heather McMonagle.

A remix to the song "Stayin' Alive" came on near the end of the two-hour dance marathon, another crowd pleaser indicated by the attendees' cheers as they moved their arms in time to the groovy '70s beat.

As 11 a.m. neared, the music began to slow. The group stretched their legs and their arms, cooling down from a two-hour workout.

It was a great way to spend a Sunday morning, said Robin Kriete. The instructors were easy to follow, and the room was bursting with the participants' collective energy.

"I thought it was fabulous," she said.

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