Fitness, Uncategorized

Use the Force (for Fitness)

By Chrisanne Sikora, Sr. Project Specialist
Diabetes Self-Management Education Program

Chrisanne headshot

Chances are “okay grab your lightsaber, get ready to move” is not something you’d expect to hear in a group fitness class. Gyms and health clubs often run special promotions after the holidays when many people begin setting up new fitness routines. Last week when I read an article about one of the nearby gyms offering a free class inspired by the new Star Wars movie, I thought it sounded a little silly but also like it could be a lot of fun. I figured why not? and called to sign up.

After we’d picked out a lightsaber and chosen our spots the instructor, Cassie, explained the class was designed around the idea of circuit training. We’d learn a sequence (or “circuit”) of about four exercises that we would do for a minute each. After we’d done each sequence three times, we’d start over with a new sequence. Cassie showed us the first sequence while a dance remix of the Star Wars theme played over the speakers, and we were off.

I couldn’t help but giggle along with the woman next to me as we swung our lightsabers side to side while doing lunges. Aside from thin disks used to slide our feet along the floor (and of course a toy lightsaber), there was no equipment used in the class. Most of the exercises were versions of basic moves like squats and push-ups that use bodyweight as resistance. Even so, the class was more challenging than you’d think! By the time we started our second sequence you could see several people were already getting tired – and we still had another whole sequence to go!

The second and third sequences were more challenging than the first, but Cassie always gave us the option of going back to an easier move if anything became too difficult. By the end of the class everyone was tired, sweaty, probably a little sore, but smiling. On the way out, I chatted with a couple of classmates about what we’d expected going in and how much fun the whole experience was. Maybe if we take the class again we’ll be able to float rocks with our thoughts.

The two key things I took away from the class were:

  • You can get a really good, challenging workout with using just your bodyweight. No equipment (or even a gym!) required.
  • The most important part of any routine is making it FUN. If you’re not enjoying yourself, it will be hard to stick with it.
Diabetes ABCs

Diabetes ABCs: Z

By Sandy O’Keefe
Program Manager, Chronic Disease Education


Zumba is a Latin-inspired dance fitness program featuring exotic rhythms set to high-energy Latin and international beats. Before participants know it, they’re getting fit and their energy levels are soaring!  It’s easy to do, effective and totally exhilarating, often building a deep-rooted community among returning students. Zumba is geared to people of all fitness levels. Dance moves are shown with modifications so students can workout at their current skill and ability level.  According to, over 14 million people of all shapes, sizes and ages take weekly Zumba fitness classes all over the world. Try a class today!


Winter Fitness Idea: Zumba

By Sandra O’Keefe
Administrative Manager, Diabetes Education/Support Programs

Now that the weather is turning colder, it’s often a challenge to find the motivation to exercise and options are limited. Who wants to walk outside when the wind brings tears to your eyes and you worry about slipping on the ice? Well if you like to dance, a very fun alternative to try instead is Zumba Fitness® (“Zumba”)!  Zumba is a Latin-inspired fitness program where you dance to energizing rhythms and easy-to-follow moves that will get your heart pumping and leave you smiling.

I first tried a Zumba class in the summer of 2009. I was hesitant at first, but I loved Latin dancing and  I grew up with Brazilian neighbors who first taught me some dance steps. Before I went to the class at my gym, I brushed up on my dancing by searching online for the terms “Meringue” and “Salsa”:  two of the many steps used in the program.

The Zumba Instructor was simply outstanding. She had me hooked from the first class. We danced and partied the entire time and at the end of the class I was drenched with sweat, but smiling. This was perhaps the best workout I had ever had and not only did I feel great, I had a blast doing it! From that point on, I’ve continued to attend classes; the more I went, the better I got at the steps.  Another perk was that I could wear my regular workout clothes and sneakers—no need to buy any special extra equipment or shoes to do it!

I’m now a Certified Zumba Instructor and teach the program at my local community center.  I love it when students tell me that they are hooked, it’s like reliving my experience all over again! One of my favorite testimonials from a woman in my class is:

“After the first class I said to my husband, I am never going to be able to do this {Zumba}! But the next morning I woke up feeling great, wanting to practice the dance steps. I kept thinking about the songs and the steps. I went to the next class and now just can’t get enough! I tell all my friends to try it!”

There are so many amazing Latin songs to dance to that it never gets old or dull. I dance to Zumba all year and while I do try other exercises occasionally, I always come back to Zumba. It’s exciting, convenient and helps me maintain my weight and blood pressure. Even though I teach classes, I also take them from other instructors so I can learn from them and, more importantly, let loose and dance!

There are many affordable classes where you don’t need to be a member of a gym to participate. For class information, visit