February 28, 2024

With gyms shut down across the country and at California Baptist University, students have had trouble staying active, but students such as Rynika Chambers, CBU Recreation Center Zumba instructor and senior graphic design major, strive to help students stay healthy and find community.

Chambers began instructing Zumba, Pilates, and Deep Stretch at the CBU Recreation Center in the summer of 2019. She said she misses instructing classes in the Rec Center, and after encouragement from Jenny O’Daniel, senior graphic design major and Simmons resident adviser, she was inspired and started instructing Zumba for freshmen.  

CBU faculty, staff and students are all welcome to attend Zumba on Fridays at 7 p.m. by the pool. | Photo Illustration by Willoughby Douglas

“I encouraged Rynika to start Zumba because I have been really discouraged with corona and just wishing CBU would plan more in-person things and get more creative with that,” O’Daniel said. “Just being in Simmons has opened my eyes to how much these girls are open to the community and need community and how mental health is down.” 

Community can be difficult to find during a pandemic, but Lilian Harmon, freshman business administration major, said she believes Zumba helped her form friendships.

“My favorite part is that I can work out, and also have fun with my friends,” Harmon said. “Zumba has definitely bonded our hall. It is something that we all look forward to every single week.”

Chambers said to maintain social distancing she instructs her students to reach both arms out and spin around until people are within two arm lengths away from one another. 

“I love their energy and how excited and responsive they are,” Chambers said. “They’re just there to have fun. No one is taking it too seriously or worrying about being good or looking at themselves in a mirror. They’re just happy to be there and having a good time screaming the lyrics and making fun freshman memories.”  

Chambers suggests toning workouts for body maintenance for students who seek to do at home workouts without equipment. She said she enjoys putting on YouTube workouts from Blogilates or Madfit.

A student working out with household products. | Photo illustration by Elijah Hickman

In addition to at-home workouts there are multiple ways that students can stay active around campus.

Everyone should bring a blanket and a friend and try Zumba. CBU faculty, staff and students are all welcome to attend Zumba on Fridays at 7 p.m. by the pool.

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