People of all ages get active at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park

Zumba classes are fun, active and free to everyone who stops by “Zumba in the Park” at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa. Meagan Simmons has been leading the class every Tuesday night for two years and enjoys seeing old and new faces.

“The great thing about Zumba is that you’re not here for your neighbor, you’re not here for me, you’re here for yourself,” Simmons said.

The class starts promptly as 6:00 p.m. and is a full hour of exercise in a family-friendly environment.

Laurence Alo is a regular at the Zumba class. He’s been coming ever since the downtown YMCA started offering the class in 2014.

“Zumba is best when we have weather like we do today,” Alo said.

The class’s popularity has grown immensely. The number of dancers has increased from 20 people in the first year to an average of 50 to 60 people now. Men and women of all ages are seen in the crowd.

“It is a great way to meet different kinds of people,” Alo said.

“Zumba in the Park” is held every Tuesday at Curtis Hixon Park from 6:00-7:00 p.m.

Local YMCA program helps fight Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease is a brain illness that has four main symptoms. The four main symptoms of the disease are trembling, limb stiffness, impaired balance and slowness of movement. There is a program available at a local YMCA that can help reduce some of those symptoms.

The program is called Pedaling for Parkinson’s, and it aims to help improve the motor functions of people with Parkinson’s disease. The program’s website states its three goals.

The first goal is to improve the quality of life of Parkinson’s disease patients and their caregivers. The program’s second goal is to educate patients, caregivers and the general public about the benefits of maintaining an active lifestyle after a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis. The third goal is to support research dedicated to the prevention and treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Pedaling for Parkinson’s is available every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:15 a.m. at the South Tampa YMCA. The class consists of a 10-minute warmup, 40 minutes of work and a 10-minute cooldown.

Melissa Brockman is a group coordinator for the class. The class is more than just riding a stationary bike twice a week, she said..

“We actually put the bikes in a circle so that there’s lots of cross-talking,” Brockman said. “It is a very social environment, which is very beneficial for some folks that are suffering from depression or mood disorders.”

Dave Lapides was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2008. He is a new participant in the class, and his favorite part of the class is getting the chance to interact with others.

“I’ve got an exercise bike at home, but this gets me out and meeting people,” Lapides said.

Contact the South Tampa YMCA if you are interested in more information about the class.

A second home at the Y

Carrollwood, FL- For some people, YMCA is a classic party song and dance, for many others, it’s a place called home.

Officially referred to as, “the Y” now, this nonprofit organization is still a place of comfort. Whether it be an after school program or a late night gym session after a long day at work, it’s a second home for some.

The Y defines themselves as a nonprofit organization like no other, with locations in 10,000 neighborhoods across the country.

In Carrollwood, the Bob Sierra Family YMCA underwent major renovations using money donated entirely by the public and parents of the children who spend their days there.

Through these generous donations, the Top Flight Gymnastics portion of the Y was built.

Inside these four big walls, children ages 2-17 spend time escaping the real world and its problems by entering a safe place with their friends.

Destiny Garcia is one of the many gymnasts at Top Flight. She uses her time there to escape from anything going on outside the gym.

“It means a lot to me because its very encouraging and it helps a lot of us get through many problems that we have,” Garcia said.

With their friends, these future gymnasts work hard. This place is more than a place to go when school lets out, it’s a second home.

“I’m here 24/7 from 3:30 to, I would have to 7 or 8:30, everyday, Monday through Friday including today, it’s a lot of work, it’s like either you commit or you don’t commit,” gymnast Emma Barton said.

The YMCA is committed to making sure kids like Emma will always have a place to call home.

To learn more about the Y, visit: www.ymca.net.