By Liz Hitchcock
This year Baylor kicked off Diadeloso with possibly the largest official Zumba class ever held in the world.
Participants young and old gathered in Fountain Mall Thursday morning to attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the world’s largest Zumba class.
Organized by the accounting department of the Hankamer School of Business, the event was not only fun for participants and observers, it also raised funds for the department’s upcoming mission trip to Uganda.
Guinness sent officials to Baylor to observe and count the number of people dancing, and the result was 632 people who participated for the duration of the class. It was unclear if the number was enough to set a world record.
“There’s an unofficial count of 1,100, but we checked and as of last night there is no official Guinness [record] of the world’s largest Zumba [class],” said Dr. Kathy Hurtt, an accounting professor who helped organize the fundraiser. “We don’t think anybody else has actually filed all the paperwork. We think we will have set the world record with our 632.”
If the record wasn’t set, the event was still worth organizing, said Van Davis, assistant director for fitness and nutrition education.
“Even if we didn’t meet the goal of breaking the record, it is a win-win situation where we held a great event on campus and helped raise money for the mission trip,” Davis said.
Hurtt estimated that about $6,000 was raised toward the trip.
Zumba, a popular aerobic exercise routine, incorporates a variety of dance music.
“It is so different,” said Susan Bell, a Zumba instructor of two years. “It is a Latin dance-based fitness class, where the instructor doesn’t have a microphone on, and any other fitness class will have the instructor wear a microphone to tell you what to do.”
Bell, who holds classes at Waco’s YMCA and at Fellowship Bible Church, led the group through a wide variety of dance exercises.
“With Zumba, you just let the music teach you and visually follow the instructor,” Bell said. “So it feels more like a dance party than a regular fitness class because you’re just moving and shaking.”
Both experienced dancers and people new to Zumba were invited to come join the fun. When encouraging people to come and join the dance, Zumba instructors refer to it as partying, in hopes of not scaring people away who might be worried about being an inadequate dancer.
“I couldn’t believe that so many people this morning hadn’t done Zumba before,” Davis said. “If you’re just starting Zumba, it is the most amazing, inspiring and energetic dance program. The word dance really turns a lot of people off, so we tell people to just come and party.”
Zumba classes are regularly held through Beararobics at the McLane Student Life Center, and at 6 p.m. today Campus Recreation will hold another Zumba event behind the Baylor Sciences Building.
“We are going to do Zumba for Japan and all the money that we raise will be going to the relief funds with American Red Cross,” Davis said. “We are only asking for a donation of $3 for our students and $5 for anyone else. If you really don’t have the money, just come and do it anyway.”
Little Rock, Ark., senior Alexanne Pitts, who teaches a Zumba class at the SLC, said she was happy to see a turnout so large, and will be helping with Zumba for Japan.
“This has been really fun,” Pitts said. “The whole motto of Zumba is, leave the work out and join the party. And as you can see, from the older people to the younger people, everyone can’t help but dancing. It’s just contagious.”