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Fitness advocate encourages students to play

By: Marci Seither
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While summer days keep getting warmer, it’s sizzling hot at Colfax’s Studio “Z.” Kirsten Dawson, a long time fitness advocate and aerobics instructor started offering fast paced aerobic classes last year at Sierra Vista Center. A couple of months ago, the Weimar resident took a leap step of faith and opened her own exercise studio. “I want exercise to be a positive experience for everyone in the class. Zumba is viable and fun way to incorporate moving and fitness into people’s busy schedules,” said Dawson, who teaches 19 classes at the Church Street studio. Dawson understands the importance of keeping fitness programs and exercise interesting and fun. Using the maringá, salsa, and Latin beats, each one-hour class offers participants an opportunity to, as their motto says, “Ditch the work out and join the party! “Fitness hasn’t always been easy for me,” said the slender blond.” I grew up surrounded by an overweight family where food was always viewed as a reward. Several years ago, after becoming frustrated with weight gain I signed up for a spinning class. I enjoyed it so much I joined the gym and began to learn about better nutrition, heart rate zones and how to work at different levels to obtain better fitness.” When the pounds began to drop off, Dawson said she decided to train for a local triathlon. “That was something I would have never felt confident enough to do before,” she said. And because of the spinning class, she decided to become an instructor not only in spinning, but also in Pilates and Zumba. Eventually Dawson became the Group Fitness director and manager at the Grass Valley Court House Athletic Club. “I helped run an eight-week shape up class,” she said. “I really enjoyed helping others out of the same rut I had been in.” In December 2008 the Grass Valley fitness center closed its doors. “I was so disappointed. We live in Weimar and had several friends who began to ask about having fitness classes in Colfax. I set up a booth at the Soroptomist’s Health Fair in ‘08 and started my first classes at the Sierra Vista Center.” Dawson was surprised by the overwhelming response. “I thought I might get a few people at the Colfax location, but anticipated that Auburn would be a better location,” she recalled. “Boy was I wrong!” While Zumba may be new to local residents, it debuted in 1999 in Columbia. By 2006, there were more than 2000 certified Zumba instructors. The fast-paced workout has now been approved by the Aerobic Fitness Association of America. In addition to the Zumba classes, Dawson teaches an eight-week Fitness Challenge class. “People have joined for different reasons. Some want to lose weight. Some want to get more fit and tone up.” The classes at Sierra Vista were doing well, Dawson continued, by when the space between Ship-It and the Post Office became available she decided it was time to set up her own studio. “I was so excited,” said Cortney Dawson, a 2004 Colfax High School graduate who attends several of her mom’s classes. “She was already working a lot. Now she is working for herself, which is really cool.” Colfax resident Gayle McCain decided to give the class a try. “I saw it in the paper under things to do,” she said. “This is my first time to attend. It look like a lot of fun.” “The first class is always free,” added Dawson. “I want people to see for themselves how easy and fun Zumba is. The music is great. Even if you are not a dancer, it is about moving and being active.”