Zumba instructor Melissa Smeltzer runs a recent (free) class at the Key Peninsula LDS church. Photo by Scott Turner, KP News

Every Wednesday morning, Lakebay resident Melissa Smeltzer leads a free Zumba class at the Key Peninsula Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).

It’s her way of “giving back” to the community, she said.

Smeltzer and her husband moved to the Key Peninsula from Utah in 2009 so he could attend the University of Washington.

Soon after she arrived here, a friend suggested she tag along to a Zumba class at the LDS church, and Smeltzer was hooked.

She became a certified Zumba instructor in April 2010 and took over as teacher of the class.

The class is for all levels, Smeltzer said, but she acknowledged that it “sometimes might get a little bit advanced for someone who doesn’t have a dance background.”

Zumba is a fast-paced exercise routine based on Latin dance. “It’s a combination of salsa, merengue and other Latin-inspired dancing and music,” Smeltzer explained.

“The way I teach it, it’s a great cardio workout, but it’s also fitness, working on abs and arms and squats in addition to all the other regular Zumba routines,” she said.

She teaches both low and high-impact styles. “So when people have been coming for a while, they can sort of find their own groove. And it’s all safe and anybody can benefit if they just stick with it,” she said moments before a recent class.

Smeltzer has taught students ranging from age 12 to 60, she said.

Anna Reimers, of Key Center, has been taking her class since October.

“You can tell that Melissa puts a lot of effort into choreographing her class and making it fun and effective for your body. She is very passionate about Zumba, and wants to share that with everyone,” Reimers said.

Smeltzer’s classes are free because “out here on the Key Pen a lot of people have a hard time driving all the way in to the Y. And sometimes it hard for them to pay for a membership,” she said.

Her class is her way of providing something that people don’t have to spend much money on.

And besides, she added, because it’s at a church, “I just don’t feel comfortable having people pay me for it. I do it for exercise for myself and I also really benefit from learning new choreography every month.”

And there’s another, very personal reason: “It’s also a great way to make new friends,” she said.

“I really enjoy getting to know my students and I’ve made some really great friends through Zumba. And I feel fulfilled being able to teach someone and having someone tell me they’ve lost weight or that they love my classes. Some people even tell me that my class is the highlight of their week.”

WANT TO GO?

Melissa Smeltzer’s Zumba class takes place every Wednesday at 10:15 a.m., at the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, 12521 134th Ave. KPN.

For information, call or text Smeltzer at (801) 599-4409, or email princess_nelly@hotmail.com.

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