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Dance craze benefits community health

Regina Jones of the Bethlehem Christian Church Exercise Ministry leads her class in the popular Latin Zumba dance to encourage better lifestyles.

By EASON FRANKLIN
The Lowndes Signal

Obesity and staying healthy have started becoming more of a primary concern for a lot of people over the past few years.

One ministry in Lowndes County is helping residents address that issue.

The Bethlehem Christian Church Exercise Ministry has been an integral part of Lowndes County since 2003.

They primarily focus on meeting people’s spiritual and physical needs, said Coordinator and physical fitness instructor Regina Jones.

“The Exercise Ministry is a self-esteem booster for women,” said Jones. “We try to be sure everyone feels comfortable when they come out.”

Over the years, the ministry has taken advantage of various exercise routines, crazes and contests to motivate members in feeling better about themselves.

More recently, the ministry has incorporated Zumba, which is a form of Latin dance that consists of a lot of hip and leg exercise, said Jones.

Classes generally last for about one hour and consist of warm-ups, exercises, cools downs and offering health tips to class members.

Jones said a lot of the participants have commented about how much better they sleep and generally feel better about themselves, because they have released a build-up of stress from the day by exercising.

In some cases, participants with high blood pressure to attended the class saw their blood pressure decrease.

“Some of the long-term benefits are things life a lifestyle change,” Jones said. “Most people carry on the lifestyles and eating habits after they leave the class.”

During contests, class members have the opportunity to win cash, gift certificates and an array of other prizes.

Contests may include doing 100 pushups per night, who can avoid eating sweets for one week or a series of other challenges randomly selected for the class to participate in.

In 2007, the ministry’s entire class lost a combined weight of 700-pounds.

“We have to face our fears and we don’t have to have a lot of the things we say we are addicted to, like sweets,” added Jones.

Jones said the class will continue utilizing Zumba for about another six months, but will gradually transition into working with hula-hoops, Tae-Bo, jump ropes and so on.

The class meets Mondays and Thursdays at 6 p.m., is absolutely free and is open to any lady who wants to attend, said Jones.

Participants range from 5-years-old to senior citizens and all ages in-between.

Classes are offered year-round, with the exception of holidays and Christmas, which is the ministry’s longest break, Jones added.

The BCC Exercise Ministry will hold its annual open house, themed “A Night Out With The First Lady/BCC Exercise Ministry,” Dec. 17 at 6:30 p.m.

“This is our opportunity to open our doors,” said Jones. “We encourage everyone to invite a friend and come see what we are all about.”