By Jann Wiswall

The second annual Zumbathon event at the Olean YMCA is scheduled for this Sunday, May 5, beginning at 12:30 p.m., and promises to be a fun and energizing workout for all participants, whether you’re a beginner or a serious Zumba fan. Plus, proceeds from the event benefit a good cause — the YMCA’s Strong Kids Campaign.

“The Zumbathon will be a great time for all,” says Kim Watt, a Zumba instructor at Ellicottville’s Core Performance Fitness & Training and one of seven instructors scheduled to lead the crowd at Sunday’s event. “Just bring a towel, plenty of water, and some comfortable soft-soled sneakers or cross-trainers, and get ready to dance the day away.”

Zumba combines terrific Latin-inspired, percussion-laden music with easy-to-follow dance steps. Even if you don’t know all the steps, you’ll get a great workout just dancing to the beat while you learn the routines.

“You can go at your own pace,” said Watt, who leads Zumba classes every Tuesday and Thursday evening at the Ellicottville gym. “People can’t resist moving to the music,” she added, which often includes African, Indian and other international genres.

The event, featuring instructors Denise Eck, Kim Watt, Angela Delahunt, Elisa Tejera, Shelley Greene, Jennifer Addotta and the Y’s event organizer Mark Johnson, begins with Zumba classes in the gym from 12:30-2:45 p.m. Participants can dance for as long or as little as they like during this period and are encouraged to take breaks whenever needed.

From 3-3:30 p.m., Johnson will lead an Aqua-Zumba pool party, where participants can get a great dance workout in the cool and refreshing pool. Aqua-Zumba is especially beneficial for people who want to take it easy on their joints. Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit!

According to the Olean YMCA Branch Executive Director Rachel Linderman, last year’s event attracted nearly 140 people and this year she expects an even larger crowd.

Linderman said, “Given that it’s also Cinco de Mayo on Sunday, why not celebrate by dancing and exercising to some great Latin music!”

Proceeds from ticket sales to the event support the YMCA’s Strong Kids Campaign, a national fundraising program that is designed to ensure that “no one is turned away from YMCA programs and services due only to the inability to pay.” The campaign gives members and friends of the Y an opportunity to help others and give back to the community through volunteerism and financial contributions.

Across the country, a full 25 percent of YMCA members receive some form of financial assistance, Linderman said. The fundraising campaign makes it possible for anyone to take advantage of the many camping, aquatic, sports, wellness and other vital programs and services provided by the non-profit organization. It also supports the all-important teen programs provided by the YMCA that gives middle and high school students a safe and healthy place to go for after-school activities.

Tickets for the Zumbathon are just $10 and $5 for the Aqua-Zumba pool party. Plus, there will be raffles for at least 10 fabulous gift baskets — including a Zumba-lovers basket. Tickets may be purchased in advance or at the door. For more information, visit or call (716) 373-2400.

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