Community Stories:

Edmonton - Zumba Connects New Canadians

Every Friday woman gather for a half hour during their lunch break from their language classes to get fit and have fun!

The Plan

Melanie offers a lunch hour Zumba class to women in the LINC (Language Instruction for New Canadians) program at One World...One Centre in Edmonton.  The English language skills of these women vary from speaking only a few words of English to being nearly fluent,  but it doesn't matter, because nobody talks during the class!  
Melanie leads them through 6-8 songs that are sung in a variety of languages and set to a variety of rhythms.  Music and body language are our common languages.  Through Latin, African, Middle Eastern and Western songs they burn calories, laugh, hoot and holler and bond.  When they walk in to class they greet each other with a smile that says "nice to see you".  

Many of these women have never done organized fitness before.  Sometimes Melanie thinks they don’t even realize that they are doing organized fitness....maybe they just come to have fun and spend time with other women. Their body language and class attendance tells her that they really enjoy the classes.  They leave class with a huge smile on their faces, a shimmer of sweat on their brow and she hear lots of "Thank you teacher" as they exit.  Sometimes when Melanie sees women that seem to really catch on to the choreography quickly, she motions to them to come join her at the front.  She hasn't been turned down yet.  Melanie can see the pride and excitement written all over them when they join her in leading the class and at the end of the song there always erupts a loud cheer when she points to the volunteer helper and clap. They are so supportive of each other. 

The Outcomes

Melanie works in the same building and when she sees them in the hallways from time to time and she hears things like "Zumba today teacher?" and "teacher, Zumba every day please?".  She can't always explain to them that she would love to teach them every day but that she is volunteering during my lunch break to teach this class and she can't commit to doing that every day.  Melanie often wonders if this is the one time in their week where they get to leave behind the stress of living in a foreign country, caring for their children,  financial burdens, meeting English language requirements to stay in their program etc. and just let go and have fun.

Ways to take action: Community Strategies - Physical Activity