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Dancing Your Way To Fitness

Ballet Hawaii continues its mission of promoting dance in Hawaii with its newly added Dance Into Action program offering a variety of classes such as Tahitian, Zumba, Street Jamz Werkout, Modern and Fusion Belly Dance, in an effort to present dance as exercise.

Also offered are an adult and men’s ballet classes, as well as COREography, Yoga or Movement Conditioning for those who want to stretch and relax.

Sharon Watanabe, 64, of Hawaii Kai has been looking for a new activity to do since her aerobics teacher retired three years ago.

Four months ago, she discovered Erin Young’s Zumba class and hasn’t stopped dancing since.

“I like the way she teaches,” says Watanabe, a resource manager for the U.S. government. “She’s very energetic, her steps are really simple to follow and she’s very encouraging.


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Kristen Fujitani, Sharon Watanabe, Debbie Fraser, Barbara Tarumoto, and Sarah Sujimoto, getting their Zumba work out with Zumba instructor Erin Young. Lawrence Tabudlo photos ltabudlo@midweek.com

“I’ve been trying to get more active because I knew I had to get back in shape again. Now, I feel much more alive, I’m not as tired, I’m a little stronger and I think I just feel better overall.”

Young, who became a certified Zumba instructor in June 2010, also works as a professional hula and Tahitian dancer performing aboard the Navatek cruise ship.

Her hour-long Zumba class at Ballet Hawaii is a global dance experience with music and dances from around the world. She also incorporates her hula training by including hip-swaying moves to some familiar Island songs. Her classes at Ballet Hawaii take place Tuesdays at 5 p.m. and Fridays at 6:30 p.m.

There’s also a traditional Zumba class and a Zumba Gold for those age 50 and above taught by Kristie Kamiya and Marisol Garcia.

“I do the traditional Zumba format just like I was trained,” explains Young. “At least 70 percent of the routine is Latin, so you have salsa, and then we travel to different places like Colombia and do the cumbia, and then we go to the Dominican Republic for merengue, then Puerto Rico, and then the last two or three songs I add hula and Tahitian.

“The moves are targeted mostly in the mid-section, but there also are a lot of hips and legs because you’ve got to bend your knees a little bit, and you use your oblique muscles a lot because you’re twisting from side to side, and you use your arms too. But mostly I do a lot of hippy dance moves, almost like belly dancing.”

Young adds that one of her students has lost 75 pounds after about a year of her Zumba classes. She also has a 92-year-old student who “doesn’t reach too high or bend too low” but just loves to move, sweat and have a good time.

“For me, I just love to dance,” says Young, who also teaches Hawaiiana at Waialae Elementary School. “I took my first Zumba class about two years ago, and it was so much fun that I asked how I could become an instructor.

“For myself, I’ve noticed that (from doing Zumba) I have more energy, my muscles are toner and I just feel healthier.”

Ballet Hawaii is located at 777 S. Hotel St. (in the old Scan Design building near Straub). Free parking is available.

Fees range from $5 to $15 per class. For more information, call 521-8600, email danceintoaction@gmail.com or visit ballethawaii.org.