By JT Cummings
As the first of many Latin songs start to play, I see a man trying to plie-squat to a rumba like beat. His shirt leads my eyes down to his hips. He’s right, they don’t lie.
Sydney Hunt leads the Zumba class in a warm-up song— during which ballet stretches are placed with yoga and upbeat Latin sounds.
I’m noticing a trend. A group of strangely enthusiastic men wearing neon yellow shirts spray-painted with cheeky sayings like “Look Lower, Look Lower, Look Lower, #hipsdontlie.” One of my personal favorites reads “DON’T CHA WISH UR BOYFRIEND HAD MOVES LIKE ME.”
Already sweaty, I fight the mental dissonance of combining ballet, yoga, and Latin dance. I press on. Finally the second song! This time around Sydney is having us crump. I can handle it of course, but some of these guys… bless their hearts.
Latin song after Latin song, combinations of rumba and salsa, sweat and tears— each of us whipping our bodies into shape. As I am struggling to maintain breath in the back row, while shaking my body fat like there is no tomorrow, I notice something— the guys are working it! And I mean really working it! Britney Spears would be proud.
More than a couple Pitbull songs later and what do you know, the Britney song “Work” comes on. How fitting! At this point the bro with the “#hipsdontlie” shirt is drenched in his sweat. He struggles as his companion, “#yeeaaaah,” shows him up by slaying the Shakira-esque flailing your arms type move.
This Neon Shirt Crew is very vocal! They are straight pumped to be at Zumba, putting some of their female counterparts to shame! These guys like to get goofy and mess around. While moving, they will often harass each other. They know how to have fun with a work out.
There is a move where one strategically faces to the right, swinging his left foot back and forth on tempo, then proceeds to hop around until facing the left, and repeats the process. This dance move is an invitation for the men to kick each other. They chase each other in circles. It’s a game, and they are having a blast!
During one of the moves where you jiggle your bum whilst going up and down on your toes, a move slightly reminiscent of football warm ups combined with a certain Miley Cyrus dance, the Neon Shirt Crew gets vocal. I specifically remember one distressed female especially aggravated at the commotion the crew was making give a distinct glare— as if that would suffice as sufficient combat.
I’m noticing a trend. A group of strangely enthusiastic men wearing neon yellow shirts spray-painted with cheeky sayings.
Speculation about men’s motives for taking Zumba classes have been offered, the results— not all good. However, from first hand experience, there was no overt oogling of females, or overt sexualization.
“In order to fight that, I try to have the guys stand close to the front,” said instructor Sydney Hunt. “I understand that girls can feel uncomfortable, but honestly guys feel the same way.”
Senior Sam Vroman believes that Zumba is a workout. “It not straight up dancing. It’s cardio! The moves are not overly sexual…it’s for everybody!” Vroman said.
Most of the girls actually enjoy the presence of the men in Zumba class.
“I think it’s fun! They bring a different dynamic, they get really into it!” said Ashlee Sullivan, a Zumba class attendee.
For some Zumba is more than a workout.
“I love to dance, exercise, and be goofy. Zumba is the only time I can be expressive with my body,” said senior Genesis Perez.
As far as any controversy goes, Sydney Hunt likes to keep it professional. On Wednesdays there is a huge male turn up, almost half the class being male.
“I’ve been teaching for three years,” said Hunt. “Latin dancing does incorporate a lot of hip movement. I have got some pushback from some people but I really want…people to express those feelings toward me. I really want this to be a fun friendly place for people to come to”
The Neon Shirt Crew began last year according to sophomore Matt Warren (Don’t Cha Wish Ur Boyfriend Had Moves Like Me?).
“Last year we all came together with our RA Tyler Abraham,” Warren said. Travis Fleetwood (#hipsdontlie) said he has an “awesome, fun, amazing” time at Zumba.
Whether you are male or female, its time to ditch the workout and join the party!