MARQUETTE- Latin American music fills the air at Dance Zone as children move to the rhythm of the music in their Zumba Kids class.
Zumba has always been geared toward adults at Dance Zone until recently. Alesia Maki, the Zumba instructor at Dance Zone, has created a Zumba class just for children to enjoy. Maki said she got the idea for the six-week class from her children themselves.
"They always wanted to participate in my regular Zumba classes, but those classes are sometimes too challenging and too mature for children to understand and keep up with," Maki said. "The Zumba Kids class takes into consideration the developmental stages of children, and it doesn't push them to do things that are too hard or complicated."
From left, Addie Ollila, Anabel Ollila and Maija Maki-Warne move to a song while following the instructor during Zumba Kids class Monday at Dance Zone in Marquette. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
The children will learn the steps to two or three songs at most with plenty of opportunity to practice the steps through the repetition during the class. The children will also learn new words and the origins of music. The best part for the kids is being able to open up and create dance movements themselves, Maki said.
"In the beginning, there are those kids who are shy, and some who are afraid to move," she said. "But after each class we play a game where each child gets to be the center star and make up their own movements. They really pick up on what they learn through even one class and they use their own creativity and feelings from the music to find moves that feel right to them."
Maki said she wanted to start this class because as a personal trainer and wellness instructor she recognizes the need for affordable and fun activities for children. She said she hopes the kids will have fun and view dance and exercise as a pleasurable activity.
"Kids need to be active and they need a place where they can be themselves and enjoy moving to music," Maki said. "This course encourages kids to be active and to dance and move without feeling self-conscious, and it fosters an appreciation and understanding of music and rhythm."
The class is for ages 4 to 11 years, and if enough children are signed up the class may be broken up into two age groups, Zumba Kids and Zumba Kids Jr. According to Maki, the difference between the two age groups is minimal, but in smaller class sizes she can more easily accommodate for the wide range of ages. The class is an hour long.
"You can drop off your child for the hour and pick him or her up at the end," Maki said. "Often kids open up more once mom or dad leaves the studio letting them really explore their individuality and creativity."
At the end of the classes Maki said she likes to do a parents performance, so parents can see what their children learned for the day. The class is $30 for six classes over six weeks and runs from Monday through Dec. 9. For more information about the class, email Alesia Maki at alemaki@ nmu.edu or visit her website at alesiamaki.zumba.com.
Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.