GI Jane Personal Training Services


‘Exercise in disguise’

MIDLAND – Walking into a gym can be a bit overwhelming – and, let’s face it, not exactly at the top of the fun meter – but a new Latin-inspired exercise class is trying to change that perception.

An emerging trend called Zumba has made inroads at gyms in the Greater Toronto Area and across the country in the past few years. Now, with the expertise of local personal trainer Jane Kiersnowski, the high-energy dance-meets-fitness class is beginning to gain popularity in Midland.

“Zumba is a Latin-based fitness exercise class. A lot of people explain it as exercise in disguise,” she said, adding Zumba fuses Latin rhythms and easy-to-follow moves to create a fun, yet sweat-inducing, workout.

Created by celebrity trainer Beto Perez in Colombia in the mid-1990s, Zumba is quickly becoming the class to hit, with Kiersnowski’s latest class being packed from wall-to-wall.

The idea for Zumba, she noted, came after Perez showed up for one of his fitness classes without his music.

“He ran out to his car and grabbed some Latin music and ran back in and said, ‘Ladies, I don’t have my music with me. Can we just dance instead?’ He put the music on and started to dance, and it was a hit. They loved it,” she said.

It took a few weeks, but Perez was able to put together an aerobics workout to the Latin music, and it quickly became the most popular fitness class at his studio. He spent the next few years trying to sell the concept and, in 2001, after three years of offering the class in the U.S., was approached by two entrepreneurs to create a global company based on his fitness philosophy. That was when Zumba was officially born.

Kiersnowski took a certification course two years ago in Toronto, and said although the new fitness craze may have petered off for a little bit, it’s now coming back with a boom.

“Last week’s class was packed to the rafters,” she said, adding the appeal for many participants is the chance to just let go and have a little bit of fun.

“It is something where you can just let your inhibitions go,” she said, adding no real dance skills are required to take part in the class. “You want to be able to have a little bit of rhythm so you can enjoy it – but there’s no challenging choreography.”

Kiersnowski is quick to point out that even though the choreography may not be challenging, the workout is – even if you don’t realize it until after the class is over.

“Everyone that I’ve met that has gone through a class has said, ‘Holy cow, I’ve worked out…. I’m done!’ The class is done in an hour, but you’re sweating and having fun at the same time. They didn’t realize how much of a workout it was because of all of the fun that they had. People are cracking up, laughing and enjoying the music.”

The workout is progressive, but every now and then, she noted, she will pull something out and throw in a new move.

“Everybody gets better as we go,” she said, adding part of what has made Zumba so popular across the country is the fun factor.

“Nobody is in there with a straight face…. It feels like a bunch of friends going out to a wedding reception or a dance club and we’re just having a great time.”

Kiersnowski is proud of how she has managed to help grow the popularity of Zumba in the area over the past two years, with some classes bringing out as many as 75 people. She currently teaches Zumba twice a week at Hunt Fitness in downtown Midland and will begin classes in Tay Township in January. For more information, e-mail

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