Friday, September 26, 2008


Posted by James at 1:27 PM ET

Hola! Local fitness instructor says it’s time to get ready to ‘Zumba’

By B.J. Fairchild-Newman
Shelbyville News
Julie Ruschhaupt is on a mission; she wants to promote fitness while increasing awareness of the Latino culture through her Zumba classes at the Shelbyville Parks and Recreation Department.

Zumba Fitness is a program founded by Miami choreographer Alberto 'Beto' Perez that was inspired by Latin dance and rhythms combined with cardiovascular exercise. The term "Zumba" is derived from a Colombian word meaning to "move fast and have fun," and participants get a vigorous workout while having a good time performing the aerobic routines.

Ruschhaupt's Zumba class begins with two free classes on Sept. 29 - one at 9 a.m. and another at 7 p.m. at the Carl McNeely Civic Center, 945 S. Tompkins St. She is confident students who try Zumba will be hooked and decide to sign up for the 10-class session. There is no need to preregister, and Ruschhaupt added that the class doesn't require a dance background and is suitable for any age or fitness level.

Shelbyville hairstylist Nick Ciarletta already has registered for the class at Ruschhaupt's urging.

"I didn't use to have this," Ciarletta said, pointing to his middle. "When Julie said that she was going to start this class, I thought, OK, it is the time in my life to start getting some exercise."

Yvonne Williams also plans to take the class, and she likes the fact that it is "something different."

Julie Ruschhaupt is pictured with her daughter, Ava Lucia, 4, who was adopted as an infant in Guatemala.

"It's not boring," she said. "You can really feel it in your hips and legs; it is a good workout."

Ruschhaupt said many people who find exercising boring will enjoy Zumba. She taught aerobic exercise for nine years, and stopped teaching classes because she lost interest in the repetitive movements, but she was hooked after her first Zumba class. Ruschhaupt now is a certified instructor and receives her teaching materials directly from the Zumba Fitness company.

"Every month, they send me new music and new choreography," Ruschhaupt said. "I guarantee that the class won't get bored, and I won't, either."

Karen Martin, director of the Shelbyville Parks and Recreation Department, said her department is pleased to offer Zumba, since it is likely to bring in a new group of people to exercise at the McNeely Center.

"There are so many kinds of recreation," Martin said, "and everything doesn't appeal to everyone. Zumba is a form of fun exercise that is good for you."

One reason Ruschhaupt is so excited about starting Zumba classes in Shelbyville is the exercise program's Latin connection. Although she doesn't have a Latino background, Ruschhaupt enjoys Latin food and culture and is pleased to see the growth of the Latino population in Shelby County. When she and her husband of 21 years, John Ruschhaupt, adopted a child four years ago, they were thrilled to bring Ava Lucia, a baby from Guatemala, into their home.

Ruschhaupt even had a chance to meet Zumba creator Perez when she attended a Zumba master class in Louisville earlier in the month. Perez told the class that he went to one of his Miami exercise classes nine years ago and discovered that the only music he had with him was Latin music. His class absolutely loved the routines that he improvised to the lively music, so Zumba was born.

The exercise craze is now found in 35 countries, and Zumba Fitness has 11,000 instructors with more than 2 million students taking the classes. Zumba uses a variety of music styles in its routines, including merengue, salsa, reggae, hip-hop, pop, mambo, rumba, flamenco and calypso. The fast and slow rhythms of the music are paired with movements that help tone and sculpt the body.

Although fitness is a priority to Ruschhaupt, her day job is at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, where she works as a cardiovascular critical-care nurse, working with heart-and-lung transplant and open-heart surgery patients. During her 16 years of nursing, Ruschhaupt has learned to appreciate the value of keeping the body fit, and she hopes to inspire others.

In addition to teaching exercise classes for nine years, she also was an Indianapolis Colts Cheerleader for the 1998-99 season at the age of 31 and taught aerobics to the other cheerleaders in 1999. Ruschhaupt was the oldest cheerleader on the squad, and she liked having the chance to prove that she could compete with the younger women.

"I have always pushed myself beyond my comfort level," she said.

She prefers the Parks Department setting for the class as opposed to a health club, because she believes it will be less threatening for students. They can attend 10 classes for $50 and go to any of the scheduled classes until April 29. In addition to the Monday classes, Ruschhaupt is considering a Wednesday evening class.

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