The Palm Beach Post — Legacy 02-19-2012
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Zumba With Kelli Michelle
Kyoto Walker

The music is infectious and the energy is high in Kelli Michelle’s Zumba class at the LA Fitness in Palm Beach Gardens.

Latin rhythms pulsate and the floor vibrates during the hour-long aerobic/dance exercise class, which works the core muscles of the body.

She gets in the faces of her on average 70 students and dances with them seemingly to their delight.

“The energy, the spirit…it’s super, super fun! You can be your own person, do your own thing. Take it at your own level,” Lori Dunikoski, 52, said. “It’s dance so you get a good workout from your head down to your thighs, to the calves, head to toe.”

Miriame Moise, 25, said she has been taking Michelle’s class for over a year and it’s never boring. “To be honest with you, I really don’t exercise because I get bored,” she said. “But this Zumba class, there was something different because at the same time that I’m working out, exercising, I’m having fun.”

Michelle said the camaraderie with her students comes from a very real place.

“You can burn anywhere from 500 to a 1,000 calories in one hour based on what you put into the class,” she said. “If you pretty much just do the basics, you’re going to burn 500 calories.”

Michelle said Zumba classes also have a toning benefit depending on how the muscles are isolated.

She said she is constantly holding in her core, her stomach, mostly moving on the balls of her feet, and hardly ever doing anything flatfooted in order to work her calves.

Michelle also said if students can hold in their core for a minute of a song, and then two minutes the next time, then they are growing and expanding their level of fitness.

Dan, who is in his 40s, said Michelle is an athlete in great condition, which makes her Zumba class more effective than some other workouts he’s done, like jump drills.

Athleticism is a plus for the power dance exercise class, but participants can range from beginners to advanced fitness levels.

“I know that I operate at a higher level. That’s just me. Because I have a varied level of fitness, I operate at the highest level,” she said. “But I tell my students, you operate at your level. As long as you’re laughing, as long as you’re moving, you don’t have to do the steps at the intensity that I do them.”

Grace Sterrett is over 60 years old and says fighting gravity is not easy so she walks, plays golf and has regular workouts at the gym.

“I come to the Zumba class about twice a month. Kelli is great, high energy,” she said. “My only complaint is that the floor is flat and sometimes she’s hard to see and I have trouble keeping up. But that’s my fault, not hers.”

Michelle teaches Zumba at another facility as well, volunteers in the community and also works full-time as a counselor at a diagnostic center.

Zumba has enriched her life and the lives of her students who have lost weight, in one case nearly 100 lbs., and improved their physical and mental health, Michelle said.

LA Fitness general manager Benjamin Johnson said if anyone is interested in attending Kelli Michelle’s Zumba class, he will provide a free three-day pass.

The gym is located at 3176 Northlake Blvd. In Palm Beach Gardens. For information, call 561- 848-4170. Kelli Michelle also is available for Private Lessons, Corporate Wellness Programs, and Parties. She is licensed in Kids Zumba (Zumbatomic) and Active Older Adults (Zumba Gold). Email: