"Before the pandemic, we all get together just like on Zoom and we chit chat. Everybody would say hello and then we would have our hour-long class," said instructor Dyann Paoline. "They depend on it and I depend on it and so, for now, this is working and I'm happy about that."
Paoline, 71, says she feels like she is in her 20s when teaching Zumba Gold, a less intense offshoot of the popular dancing fitness routine. For the past seven years, she has provided classes for senior citizens in the Philadelphia area.
That changed when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Paoline and her team needed to learn how to use technology to work out together virtually.
"Thank God for Diane," said Linda Simon from Center City. "It's very difficult being in a high-risk category, but the two hours a week that I know that I could just let it out was my savior."
The group of more than 20 women felt blessed to be alive and decided to bless others in return. Over the holiday season, they collected $561 to the Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA) and added $631 in donations to Philabundance. Both organizations address hunger in the Philadelphia area.
"For our little Zumba Gold Philly group, I was proud to hand over the checks," said Paoline.
Anna Glass has worked out with Paoline for the last seven years. She also volunteers at MANNA three days per week.
"The need is greater than ever," said Glass. "Most of the people that we take care of are alone or they are sick mothers and fathers with small children. And we feed the children."
The ladies are hoping to raise money annually for local food banks that provide for those in need. In the meantime, they are enjoying time at home and navigating the COVID-19 vaccination process. They hope to resume working out in person before the next holiday season rolls around.
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