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April 7, 2020

Jessica Douglas: From Teaching Zumba to Zoomba

April 7, 2020

Jessica Douglas graduated from the College of Education in 2020 and will be attending graduate school in June 2021. She is currently teaching four virtual Zumba classes a week through MSU Recreational Sports and Fitness Services.

I began teaching group exercise classes at MSU through Recreational Sports and Fitness Services (RecSports) the fall semester of my sophomore year.

I have taught group exercise classes for eight semesters and in every MSU Neighborhood and IM Building. Over the years, I have built a great relationship with my participants, created a safe space, welcomed incoming freshmen and expanded my classes to include over 150 students. I have led participants who had never heard of Zumba before stepping into my class as well as experienced Zumba enthusiasts. I was able to lead in a way that made sure everyone had a great time. 

When I heard that group exercise classes were going virtual, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work but I, along with the rest of RecSports, knew how important these classes were to our students.

We already know that physical exercise can help relieve stress, and with what we are currently going through, finding a positive outlet for it is vital. We are asked to continue with our studies, navigate new online classes, possibly take care of family and friends and stay positive. I feel all of those things are near impossible if you don't take care of yourself first.

The participants and I did some troubleshooting during the first few classes. I had to adjust my lighting, change where I was standing, tweak the camera height, switch my music source and more. Now, after two weeks of virtual Zumba, or Zoomba, I can say that these classes are a success!

With the new online format, I miss the jokes and silliness that came with my in-person classes. But I now have the opportunity to welcome back my participants that graduated, moved away or were unable to attend my in-person classes for one reason or another.  I miss hearing the laughter and hoots and feeling the energy of 100 students packed into a residence hall classroom, but I love starting my Zoom room to see participants waiting for me, asking me how I am and if my pup will be joining our class again today.

Virtual classes are not the same as in-person classes, but they aren’t different in a bad way — they’re just different.  

By: Jessica Douglas