FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – “Remember to keep your distance. Try to free your mind and only think about fun stuff!,” shouts out-of-work Fort Wayne Zumba instructor Jimmie King. “It’s not about where your next roll of toilet paper is coming from.” King is offering free workout classes at a distance to help people connect during the COVID 19 pandemic.
King leads the classes from his front yard on West Wayne Street in Fort Wayne’s West Central Neighborhood. When the stay-at-home order went into effect, the gym where he used to teach had to temporarily close. That put King out of work, but he is still helping others get a workout.
“We’re doing it on the street and the sidewalk right in front of my house,” said King. “Everyone keeps their distance at least six feet apart if not more and they make sure not to get in the way of traffic.”
King started offering the classes near the end of March after a few of his students called him still wanting to workout. “A few of my students stayed in contact and asked if I wouldn’t mind teaching a class. I said sure, let’s get together and so it grew from there.”
“I’ve been a fitness instructor for about 10 years and I’ve been teaching Zumba for just a little over five,” he said.
Like many people King has helped organize efforts like this to help bring people safely together. He says it’s about more than just a physical activity. “It’s especially good in this time now with the virus and I want to keep everybody happy. Dancing makes everybody happy no matter what. They’ll be able to let everything go for at least 30 to 45 minutes and have fun with us.”
Mental health experts agree a little exercise can go a long way. “Body, mind, spirit, everything is connected,” said Siquilla Liebetrau, a Clinical Psychologist at the Bowen Center. “So your mental health will be helped by you taking good care of your physical health so make sure you exercise and of course you want to go outside and get some fresh air.”
Fresh air and more is what King’s streetside Zumba sessions offer. The free classes take place on Mondays and Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. outside 1021 West Wayne Street. King post information and connects with his students on his Facebook page.
“It’s all been very positive,” he said. “I love it.”