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Getting their Zumba on in Bremerton

Crystal Marrill Hanners, center, takes part in a Zumba class Monday evening in Bremerton.  - Kristin Okinaka
Crystal Marrill Hanners, center, takes part in a Zumba class Monday evening in Bremerton.
— image credit: Kristin Okinaka

While not everyone starts doing Zumba to lose weight, Gen Aksdal lost about 55 pounds in two years of doing the dance routines.

“I just felt like I was over the hill. I feel 100 percent better now,” she said.

Aksdal, 54, goes to Zumba three times a week now. The Bremerton resident said there was a “hump” to get over and her feet hurt at the beginning, but anyone can take part in it.

Zumba is a Latin dance-inspired fitness program that originated in Colombia. Bremerton Fitness’ Zumba sessions — where Aksdal attends — incorporates a variety of dance types including salsa, rumba, hip-hop and Bollywood moves. Gaining momentum, Zumba classes are offered at many local fitness centers such as the YMCA.

Nancy Marrill Hanners is on her third year doing Zumba and said she first started it at the Bremerton Tennis and Athletic Club because a friend said she may like doing it.

“I fell in love with it,” she said.

And, her love for Zumba in large part came from the instructor, Kristin Lopez, who she followed after she left the athletic club.

Lopez started Bremerton Fitness three years ago and offers several Zumba classes a week including at the gym of the Bremerton School District’s administration building and Sheridan Park Community Center.

Marrill Hanners, 58, said she enjoys Lopez’s pizazz and energy and the fact that her classes doesn’t have the “sex appeal” that other classes may focus on. At Monday evening’s Zumba class, Marrill Hanners — and many other women — were smiling the entire 45-minute class while stepping, turning and grooving.

It’s difficult not to smile while having fun.

“She’s smiling all the time,” Marrill Hanners said of Lopez. “Even if we make a mistake, it doesn’t matter.”

Crystal Marrill Hanners, Nancy Marrill Hanners’ 17-year-old daughter, said Zumba isn’t that difficult to pick up and learn.

“I just love dancing in general,” Crystal said.

Teaching Zumba for nearly four years, Lopez said in that time of having five to six classes a week, she has had to have a substitute cover for her twice. Lopez changes her routines on a weekly basis but many of the moves are similar or are integrated into the new one. She started Bremerton Fitness in 2009.

Lopez started Zumba after she gained about 80 pounds even after giving birth to her son in 2004. She quickly began losing the weight and stopped stepping on the scale after the first year or so of Zumba. She added that she enjoys it because it’s not only a good core workout but a full body workout.

And, anyone who is willing to give it a try can do it.

“I have people who’ve never stepped foot in a gym to marathoners,” Lopez, 29, said.

Michelle Ronquillo, 43, said she likes the music and even though she bought some CDs to do Zumba on her own at her Bremerton home, she only did it once because it wasn’t the same as being in class.

After doing Zumba for about a year, Ronquillo said it’s her main form of exercise.

“To me, this is so much fun — way better than going out jogging. That seems like torture,” she said.

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