Neither padded floors nor drawn blinds could dampen the steady chorus of reggaeton stylings and revelry as campaign founder Asya al Lamki brought the curtains down on what had been a promising first chapter.
The month-long effort, under the aegis of Taageer Finance Company and The Champ, had been intended to raise awareness about the health benefits of a Zumba workout, but drew stronger-than-expected participation from both Omani and expatriate women. The former group being of added significance given the challenges of the fasting month.
For Asya, a lecturer at the Institute of Health Sciences who moonlights as a certified Zumba instructor, the turnout testified to both her and her class's commitment to a healthy lifestyle during the holy month and beyond.
“I felt the holy month was the best time to introduce my campaign of Ramadan fitness to women,” Asya said. “People tend to overeat during iftar and stay up late. Zumba could be a way to balance spirituality and health.”
Asya credits the up-tempo beats, infectious dance steps and “almost party-like” feel of Zumba by ensuring that her students' will power didn't falter in the face of steadily dropping energy levels over the course of the month.
Zumba, which incorporates elements from “cardio, toning and core exercises”, is “easy to pick up and above all, fun”.
“I personally don't like going to the gym. I'm not a gym person,” Asya said. “I wanted to show women that there are other, more fun, ways to exercise other than the gym and walking. You don't think of it as exercise. But you really get a workout. That's the Zumba mantra.
“You can burn anywhere 500-900 calories in an hour’s workout. You work your muscles from head to toe - all to a variety to pulsating music.
“I conducted four classes a week, two each at The Champ and at PDO’s gym. We had as many as 22, mostly Omani women students attend the Champ sessions. Over the month, we averaged about 16-17 per class; there was not a significant drop-off. I'm particularly proud of that.”
That success found mirror in the attendance on Monday's closing ceremonies. “Indeed, it was a very good turnout for a workday. Some people had even come in a half-hour early.” And if the enthusiasm and spirit didn't underscore enough the event's success, the number of T-shirts left unclaimed when the festivities ended at midnight did. “I counted around six adult and 12 children’s shirts. That's from a starting total of 100. A good start I’d say.”
In keeping with the spirit of giving during the holy month, all proceeds from the campaign will go to the Al Rahma Charity Group, which looks after the orphanage in Al Khoudh.