Freshman Chelsey Becker leads "exercise in disguise"

Release Date: 9/16/2011

It's 7 p.m. on a recent Thursday evening and the new Mabee Fitness Center on the University of the Ozarks campus is abuzz with activity.

There are students and staff members pounding away the miles on the state-of-the-art treadmills and bulking up biceps in the free weights area in the Rawhouser Weight & Fitness Room. But the star of the party on this evening can be found in the nearby Boreham Aerobics Room, where loud, rhythmic Latin dance music is inspiring a large group of students in an upbeat and invigorating workout called Zumba Fitness.

Chelsey Becker, a freshman from Claremore, Okla., is leading the group of 15 mostly female students. Becker is a certified Zumba instructor who fell in love with the new Latin-inspired dance fitness routine when she attended a class with her mother a couple of years ago.

Chelsey Becker leads a group of students in a Zumba Fitness workout.

Chelsey Becker leads a group of students in a Zumba Fitness workout. Becker is a freshman from Claremore, Oklahoma.

"My mom was in this biggest loser competition at her work and she got into Zumba and ended up losing around 75 pounds," said Becker. "I ended up losing a little weight too and just really enjoyed the class. I was hooked after that."

Becker received her certification in Zumba in December and, once she decided to attend Ozarks, began looking for opportunities to teach a class at the university. As fate would have it, the opening of the new fitness center this semester provided the perfect opportunity. Becker soon had her work-study job teaching Zumba.

"I knew about the new fitness center and I was hoping to be able to use it and share my love of Zumba," said Becker. "I just kept calling the Student Life Office before school started and reminded them that I was interested. It worked out perfectly."

Becker's class is the first to use the Boreham Aerobics Room, which was made possible by the generous support of Judy (Alexander) Boreham of Fort Smith, a former vice president for academic affairs at Ozarks and a current board of trustees member. Other aerobics classes as well as yoga classes are scheduled to utilize the room in the near future.

"It's kind of neat to be the first class to use the room," said Becker, who holds classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. "It's a perfect room for this kind of class."

The one-hour class is free and open to the campus community. Inviting her friends and using word-of-mouth advertising, Becker had nine students in her first class. As word has spread across campus, that number has steadily increased each class.

"I had no idea what to expect, but it seems to really be catching on," she said. "I see more new faces in each class and people are coming back. We've even had a couple of guys in the class and that's the first time I've had guys in my class. It's all very encouraging."

The fast-paced routines and dance music make the workout very popular among students, Becker said.

"It's a great aerobics workout, but you don't feel like you're working out," she said. "It's almost like you're just out dancing, and the next thing you know an hour has gone by. I call it exercise in disguise."

And, teaching the class has helped Becker make fast friends and find her niche on campus.

"I'm naturally a pretty shy person and this has definitely helped me fit in and meet people," she said.

For information on the Zumba class or the Mabee Fitness Center, contact the Student Life Office.