Student promotes health using Zumba

Lisa Blanco is a Zumba instructor at a new gym, Amenzone. (Stephanie Snyder/DD)

Some people run. Some people swim. Some people lift weights. But journalism sophomore Lisa Blanco said her preferred method of exercise is Zumba.

Zumba is a type of dance that combines other types of dancing, such as salsa and hip-hop, into an aerobic workout. Blanco, who is a Zumba instructor at a new gym,Amenzone, located in downtown Phoenix, said she has been a fan of Zumba since she was in high school. A certified instructor by age 17, she has taught classes at many places in the Valley.

“I have always been a dancer,” Blanco, who is also a member of the ASU Spirit Squad, said. “I was the youngest person to become a certified instructor in the class and it’s kind of become my own business.”

Blanco currently teaches a class on Wednesday nights at Amenzone and for the month of February people can take the class for $5, according to owner and founder of the gym, Amen Iseghohi.

“I’m hoping to keep the prices low for students,” Iseghohi said. “The Downtown campus played into my choice of location and I want them there. I want my gym to be a different experience for them.”

Amenzone is not an ordinary gym, with weights and machinery, but a gym that pushes the natural way of working out, using only one’s body. The gym also boasts an organic juice bar that uses local produce. Iseghohi teaches classes at the gym as well. He teaches, what he calls, a primal fitness class where the only equipment used is a car tire.

“I’ve created 40 to 50 exercises using tires,” he said. “My class is all about working out with your just body, using your own God-given gift.”

Since Zumba is another form of exercise that doesn’t require equipment, when Iseghohi wanted to open a gym, he began looking for an instructor.

“Lisa is very well-known in the Zumba field and when I heard about her, we met up and she seemed to appreciate the concept of working out naturally,” he said.

Blanco said she was excited to start teaching classes downtown, especially as a student on the Downtown campus.  By the third week of class, she had about 20 people show up but is hoping more people will want to learn Zumba.

The dancer said her class is for anyone, not just people who can dance. People have come in and said they have two left feet but they learn how to Zumba just as well as anyone else, she said.

“I have a 65-year-old with a metal rod in their back in one class,” she said. “This is healthy for just about anyone and almost anyone can do it.”

Journalism sophomore Jordan Johnson said that she has been doing Zumba consistently for about a year and said one of the reasons she enjoys it is because it’s not just a normal workout. She also said she keeps returning because she thinks Blanco is an exceptional instructor.

“You get to go and hang out with a bunch of people and Lisa is a great instructor,” she said. “She really keeps the energy up and she makes sure you get a good workout while having fun. She always knows the right thing to say to keep you motivated.

Johnson said while she enjoys Zumba, the class can be an intense workout.

“You definitely appreciate a hot shower at the end,” she said. “Sometimes it feels like I just ran 10 miles and I’m on a running high.”

Blanco said she is confident the class will be a success because she thinks people are used to normal workouts and are looking for something different. She said she has found Zumba can be strangely addicting.

“This is not like other types of exercise,” she said. “Zumba becomes an addiction and then it becomes a way of life.”

Contact the reporter at sheydt@asu.edu