Stepping out by breaking it down

By Elizabeth Coss

In a collaboration between Youngstown State University’s Exercise Science Department and Mercy Health’s Stepping Out program, Zumba, a Latin American-based form of dance fitness, is stepping its way into YSU’s Beeghly Center for students and community members to participate in. 

Dr. Nicole Mullins, a professor of exercise science, said Zumba is a great way for people of all ages to interact while focusing on the importance of physical activity. 

“One of the biggest things that I’ve been promoting more in recent years is intergenerational physical activity. I think there are some great barriers to physical activity,” Mullins said. “[The barriers] include ageism and sexism and racism, and the great diversity that [the collaboration] has built in the Stepping Out program is that there are people of all ages and all colors and all shapes and sizes and it’s wonderful.”

Kelly Frazier, the group fitness instructor and a personal trainer who works with Mercy Health’s Stepping-Out program, led the group through various activities coordinated to a variety of hip-hop and Latin American music. Frazier said she loves actively working with the community. 

“The most important thing for me is just [getting] people moving,” Frazier said. “Throughout my tenure as an exercise professional, I’ve experimented with so many different formats and brands, and types of exercise — from low-impact to high-impact — I really get excited to introduce different types of exercise.”

Frazier said Zumba started her physical fitness journey. Working with groups full-time, Frazier works alongside the young and old, and said she hopes to continue bridging age groups together. 

Wanda Taylor, a Youngstown resident in her 60s, has followed Frazier’s Zumba classes and attended a YSU class Nov. 1. Taylor said the benefits of  Zumba and staying active are both mental and physical. 

“[Zumba is] freeing, it’s relaxing and it’s exhilarating,” Taylor said. “My main thing is to remain healthy so I can keep on moving as I age.” 

Doris Bullock, the supervisor for Youngstown Mercy Health’s Stepping Out program, stated she believes obligations extend outside of hospital walls and into communities. 

“Being able to collaborate with YSU is a wonderful opportunity for the Stepping Out Program to extend our reach even further by providing fitness classes to more people — including YSU students and community members. Our purpose continues to be rooted in the Mercy Health mission of serving the healthcare needs of all within our community. We value partnership like those with YSU that help us bring this commitment to life,” Bullock stated. 

Zumba classes led by Kelly Frazier will be held every Tuesday in November from 5 to 6 p.m. in room 119 in Beeghly Center.