ONLY ON SUNRISE: Wheelchairs rockin and rollin' to Zumba

Eau Claire, WI (WEAU) - 'A five, six, seven, eight’ is a common phrase for anyone that's familiar with dance. But have you ever heard of Zumba?

Zumba is a form of exercise and dance that's spread throughout the nation and members of one local nursing home are learning to 'rock it' from a wheelchair.

“We are wild women,” says Gay Gardipee of the Syverson Lutheran Nursing Home.

A tap of the foot or raise of the hand are getting seniors moovin' and groovin' for exercise.

"You get kinda tired, but you keep at it,” explains Gardipee.

"We started Zumba a couple of months ago. Our exercise program was decreasing. We only had 4 or 5 people that would come to exercise,” says Karen Park, Activity Director of Syverson Lutheran Home.

While it may not look like Zumba to some, it’s a version that works with them.

"I haven't been doing it very often but I like it and it’s a lot more interesting than just regular exercising,” says Dale McMahon.

"It was a real shock to me the first time. I thought if they can do then so can I. So I joined the group,” explains Gardipee.

It helps them work different parts of the body.

Gardipee says, “I like moving my legs.”

"I had shoulder surgery and so I'm kind of confined to my wheelchair but I try to move and I like that,” says McMahon

"Dancing comes from the heart, so I think it just starts at the heart and they want to move whatever part of the body that they're able to move,” says Park.

For some, its a chance to remember the past.

McMahon says, "My late husband and I used to dance an awful lot, so I find myself keeping time to the music with my legs."

"It's not only a physical thing. We find that people are much more alert after they exercise and it works cognitively also,” says Park.

So whether the song is “Chocolate” or Thrift Shop” everyone is getting involved.

"I'm still liking Lawrence Welk and everybody says oh no! But that was the music we used to dance to,” explains McMahon.

“Staff are excited and people are excited so it kind of takes off from there,” says Park.

“It’s really worth anyone’s time to come even if they don't do the exercises. They can see what it’s like and maybe the next time they'll join in,” says Gardipee.

Park says if an organization is looking into trying this, in order to call it Zumba, you have to have a licensed instructor. But you could call it cardio dancing and try it, too!

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