Photo: Certified Zumba instructor April Espe leading a class in Maple Park. Photo by Susan O’Neill
Wednesdays, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays, 8 to 9 a.m.
Maple Park Civic Center, 302 Willow St.
Schedule may vary, so call (815) 827-3286
by Susan O’Neill
MAPLE PARK—Twice a week, a core group of about 10 Maple Park women get together at the Maple Park Civic Center and dance to a mix of salsa, merengue, as well as other Latin music and current hits.
This, folks, is Zumba class.
Maple Park resident Terry Thorne, who has been a dedicated Zumba participant since April Espe began teaching the class last March, said she joined gyms when she was younger, but it just “never took.”
“I’ve been taking the (Zumba) classes for eight months, and I’ve never been committed to anything this long, except my husband,” Thorne said.
According to Maple Park resident Jamie DeStefano, one of the reasons the women keep coming back is the fact that participants laugh and have fun during the class.
Another reason is the way the class makes them feel.
Thorne, 55, said Zumba keeps her joints loosened up, and that she can bend over and touch the ground—something she was previously unable to do.
“One week off makes a difference,” she said. “I don’t want to stop doing it now.”
Espe, a Sycamore resident, had been teaching dance classes for girls, ages 3 to 12th grade, when she decided to teach their mothers some dance routines. She held the classes for the moms without telling the children. During the next student show, the parents surprised them with their own performance.
Espe saw how much fun the adults had, so when Maple Park resident Beth Miller posted on the village’s Facebook page that she was looking for a Zumba class, Espe put two and two together. She was already a dance teacher operating a school—“Just for Kix,” in DeKalb—so she obtained a certification in January to teach Zumba and started to get the word out about the class.
Espe participated in all kinds of sports while growing up. She did gymnastics for 15 years, ran track and played volleyball. She also has five years of dance experience.
According to Espe, Zumba class is aerobic, but participants really don’t think too much about their workout.
“It’s fun and you’re moving,” Espe said. “You’re dancing yourself into shape.”
Through the village’s Facebook page, flyers and word of mouth, Espe has developed a following in the area. In addition to the classes in Maple Park, she also teaches a Zumba class in DeKalb.
Espe makes sure that the dance steps are simple enough so that people can easily follow them. She also talks beginners through the steps and repeats them often.
“A lot of people are scared off because they think dance skills are required,” Espe said. “As long as you’re moving, that’s what counts.”
She said the class appeals to all ages, and that she even has a few people over the age of 70 in her classes.
DeStefano said she has lost 40 pounds with Weight Watchers, and the class has helped her with her weight loss.
“This gets my day going,” she said.
For more information about Zumba classes in Maple Park, call (815) 827-3286.