Zumba costume party mixes fun with fitness

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Harlem Globetrotters, Deadpool and multiple Wonder Women showed up Oct. 19 to Murphy Field House at Fort George G. Meade for two hours of nonstop dancing at the Zumba Halloween Costume Party.

Formerly known as the Halloween Zumbathon, the free event was rebranded this year to focus on the fun the Latin-inspired dance workout is intended to inspire.

“It was very well-received,” said Sylvia Garcia, fitness coordinator for Murphy Field House and Gaffney Fitness Center. “I’m so happy we did that. We encouraged the playfulness because it just worked.”

Participants shimmied, shook and grooved to contemporary hits from Justin Timberlake and the Chainsmokers to more obscure numbers from Latin acts like Chicos De Barrio and DJ Ricky Luna.

“It’s a lot of rhythm, hip music,” Zumba instructor Tonya Careaga said. “[It’s just] happy, fun.”

About 70 women and men of all ages came out for the costume dance party. A few couples were even present.

“It is so much fun,” Rebekah Lindsley said. “This is my husband’s first Zumbathon. The very first time I ever went to one he got deployed, so he got out of it. And every time after that it just seems like he’s in Korea or Germany or some other place.”

“As long as I’m with her, I guess [it’s ok],” added Lindsley’s husband, 1st Sgt. Zach Wriston.

For some seasoned Zumba dancers, it’s an opportunity to see all their favorite instructors under the same roof.

“I’ve been missing a lot of classes. This is my makeup period from months of not doing it,” Jane Dickerson said. “I love the instructors and I love the people. I missed the instructors. I had to give them all hugs when I got here.”

Others were discovering the Zumbathon for the first time.

“It’s fun to see people I go to class with in costume,” said Althea Miller-Umar, who is a regular at Zumba classes but hadn’t attended the party before. “It’s fun to dress up. Dancing in costume is a little hot but it’s super fun.”

Participants were urged to not to wear heavy costumes during the intense workout.

“We tell them to choose costumes that are sweat-proof, although they’re definitely not,” instructor Crystal Schutter said with a laugh.

Garcia noted there are practical functions to having a costume party event at this time of year.

“A lot of people associate Halloween with dressing up and a lot of times with that comes the candy and junk part of the holiday season,” she said. “So we do things a little bit different to bring out the fitness aspect of it.

“We all love to dance and get gross and sweaty. But I think as we get older, most of us just leave the dressing up to the kids, and this brings it back. You can see the age range.”

The costume party brought together instructors who lead more than just traditional Zumba classes. Schutter, is a fitness instructor for Gaffney’s Dance Club.

“It brings so many people together and we have so many different kinds of dance classes at Gaffney,” Schutter said. “We have Zumba, belly dancing, Dance Club fitness. There’s even some line dancing, which is really cool.

“They get to see their favorite instructors perform, and we get to recruit more people to come to our classes.”

Revitalizing Burba Lake

Burba Lake, a beloved beauty for many on Fort George G. Meade, is a great site for a summer picnic with the family, exercising, or simply a place of comfort to clear your head.

In celebration of National Public Lands Day, the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort held annually in September, Fort Meade received a $9,500 grant to revitalize the Burba Lake shoreline.

The grant is funded by a partnership between the Department of Defense Natural Resources Program and the National Environmental Education Foundation.

Established in 1994, National Public Lands Day is held annually on the fourth Saturday in September.

“On NPLD, around 200,000 to 300,000 people in the U.S. go around to different national parks or federal and state lands and do different events, cleanups or tree-planting,” said Maribeth Gravunder, environmental engineer for the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division.

Although this year’s National Public Lands Day was Sept. 22, the Fort Meade revitalization project conducted on Burba Lake was Oct. 18.

“[Our] event was in October to give us ample time to plan and purchase materials, which can take time for government entities,” Gravunder said. “The grant we received allows flexibility for when the event is held.”

The goal of the partnership is to ensure that, on military lands, everyone is a public steward and educated on maintaining the quality of public lands — promoting the connection between people and the great outdoors.

Volunteers from the Air Force as well as nine Cub Scouts and five Boy Scouts from multiple troops were present.

“We are excited to have the leader from the Scouts, mainly composed of Fort Meade residents,” Gravunder said. “[It’s] a happy accident that the Scouts were seeking an educational activity to learn about erosion in the Chesapeake Bay.”

They helped install fiber logs, back-filling with topsoil and installing native plants on eroded sections of the shoreline.

“As a Scout leader, it was fulfilling to see young Scouts lead each other and work through the problem as we worked to restore the shoreline,” Justino Lopez said.

Burba Lake has experienced erosion over the years of usage by residents and animal life.

“Lake Burba is like the gem of the recreational area for the campus,” said Mitch Keiler, environmentalist in the Environmental Division at DPW. “It gets a lot of use — use from a lot of different interests. Geese like to use the lake, people like to use the lake for fishing and hiking around it.

Volunteers and DPW staff worked three sites near eroded shoreline, placing fiber logs made out of flexible, loose-woven mesh and coconut material. The fiber logs serve as a barrier between what’s eroding and the plant life that is being protected.

- Maya Jordan

Compiled by staff of the Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs office. For more information about what is happening on Fort Meade, visit www.ftmeade.army.mil and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ftmeade.

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