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Meet Chet, Zumba Instructor!
If you happen to be working out on a Sunday morning between 10:15 and 11:15, you may encounter loud music emanating from the group fitness room…and if you peek in, you may see a passionate, old Asian guy whooping it up in the Sunday morning Zumba class. That “old guy” is Chet Mayekawa and he has just completed his first year as a regular instructor at City Gym.
While he is a relatively new instructor, Chet is no stranger to group fitness. Chet is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, and, for over 30 years has actively participated in rhythmic group fitness classes like high impact, step, cardio funk and now Zumba. In the 80’s the Bay Area was a hotbed for high impact aerobics, and some of his teachers are still well known in the group fitness industry like Andre Houle, Deborah Khazei (1989 Crystal Light Mixed Pair Champions…Deborah was also a fixture on ESPN’s Body Shapers), Mindy Mylrea, and Pepper Von (1991 Reebok Team Champion). Chet says, “although I could never replicate their expertise, the one important lesson they taught me (and my other not-as-famous instructors) was if you’re leading a class, come prepared, and use every bit of energy to make it challenging, fun and memorable.”
Chet believes there are 3 big reasons why Zumba has continued to resonate with so many group fitness enthusiasts:
Fun, danceable music
Easy, repeatable choreography
Generally low-impact movement
Song selection is extremely important to Chet. “Just because a song is Latin-based, it doesn’t mean it’s the right song for Zumba. I try and pick songs that I would dance to, no matter what the occasion.” Speaking of dancing, Chet also believes that a Zumba class should NOT be a formal, intricate dance experience. “Certainly there are basic dance moves in Zumba, but beyond that, my choreography is relatively easy, and usually matches the actual repeating structure of a song with verse and chorus. I also encourage the members to ‘make it your own’ so if you have dance experience, you can enhance the routine as much as you like.” For those people who are new to Zumba, or new to his class, Chet will spend some time before and during class to explain some steps that might be difficult for a first-timer. “Like being at a wedding and knowing how to do the Electric Slide, Zumba becomes so much more fun when you can focus on the music and experience rather than worrying about the steps. My goal is having that type of fun even though it may be their first time.” Finally, Zumba is generally low-impact movement, but that doesn’t mean it is less challenging from a cardio perspective. “Bigger, exaggerated arm movements can make any low-impact movement as challenging, from a cardio perspective, as any high-impact movement.”
Chet believes success leaves clues…successful people are doing something, and doing it consistently. For over 30 years he has experienced some of the greatest group fitness instructors and has tried to synthesize that experience into his outgoing and unique style of teaching Zumba. “My goal is to be as successful as the teachers who have influenced me…please feel free to join me, and the ‘Sunday-nista’ crew for a 60+ minute cardio dance workout!”