Growing up, Quinn Connelly said she wasn't much of a dancer. She was, however, active in sports and in high school was a three-sport athlete.

After graduating in 2012 from Jefferson High School in Alexandria, she was looking for a fun, new outlet for exercising. That is when she found Zumba. Connelly, who moved to Osakis with her husband, Kyle, in March 2018, said the dance-inspired fitness classes are fun, entertaining and a social way to exercise.

Zumba was created by Colombian dancer and choreographer Alberto "Beto" Perez during the 1990s. According to the Zumba website, it is a total workout, combining all elements of fitness including cardio, muscle conditioning, balance and flexibility, and boosted energy. Connelly said Zumba is for everyone, even those who don't know how to dance.

"As long as you can move your body, you can do Zumba," she said. "There are always modifications that can be done and there are all different levels of Zumba."

In the spring of 2013, Connelly obtained her certification to teach Zumba and has been teaching for the past six years. She teaches regular Zumba, as well as Zumba for kids and for senior citizens. Some of her classes are taught through Community Education, while others are taught at Vital Fit Club in Alexandria. Currently, she doesn't have any upcoming classes, but hopes to start up again this fall.

For those interested in taking Zumba classes, Connelly, who is a special education teacher for the Alexandria School District, said to check on the official Zumba website, which lists all the classes available in the area.

A passion for Relay

For the second year, Connelly taught a Zumba session at the Douglas County Relay for Life. She became involved with Relay for Life while living in Moorhead where she attended school at Concordia College and Minnesota State University-Moorhead. She participated in the Relay for Life in 2013 and then the next year, she was on the committee. She taught Zumba at the Relay for Life events at the Moorhead colleges for a few years.

Connelly has a connection to cancer, she said, as she has had a number of family and friends impacted by the awful disease. She feels the whole Relay for Life event is healing both physically and mentally. Seeing all the luminaria bags, especially those with the names of her family and friends, was an eye-opening experience for Connelly. But she also said seeing all the survivors was hopeful.

Participating in the Relay is a great way to help a wonderful cause, she said. And teaching Zumba at it makes it even better. Connelly said she's passionate about health and the Relay is geared toward health because of the physical and mental aspects of it. Zumba goes hand-in-hand with the Relay event because it, too, is good for your health both physically and mentally, she added.

Connelly highly encourages anyway who has thought about trying Zumba to just do it; to give it a try.

"Once people try it, they love it, whether they are a dancer or not," she said.