11 May 2020

Wrangling zumba and zoom for seniors during the lockdown

11:01 am on 11 May 2020

At-home workouts and online group fitness classes have become the norm for many during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Zoom Zumba for Edgecumbe's seniors has become a fixture during Covid-19.

Photo: Supplied / Erika Neuhauser

And it's no different for a dedicated group of Edgecumbe seniors, who have been navigating Zoom to get their weekly Zumba fix.

Erika Neuhauser has been running Zumba Gold classes for seniors in a church hall in Edgecumbe for about five years now.

When the Covid-19 lockdown began, Neuhauser thought hard about how she could continue her classes.

With the help of her husband, she's been able to get set up on Zoom.

"I'm not an IT genius and I'm 57 now - I'm kind of struggling with this Zoom thing, but I also realise that's my only way to keep in touch with them."

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There are two classes a week, Monday and Thursday.

Neuhauser admitted there could be technical hiccups.

"When the first-timers are coming in and they don't know how to turn it on - no sound, or no video," she said.

"We all try to explain to each other where to click and of course, everybody's got different devices and it doesn't work."

Covid-19 isn't the first crisis Edgecumbe has faced - back in 2017, major flooding put temporary stop to the Zumba classes.

But just three weeks later, Neuhauser was able to get them back up and running.

"I tell you, they needed that, they needed the happiness, the smiles. It's a small group, but there is a big spirit within the group."

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Liz Sides lives just out of Edgecumbe and she has been a regular at the Zumba Gold classes.

She said there were a few challenges when it came to using Zoom.

"There's a little bit of trouble out here because we're all on rural broadband which does not always mean it's brilliant and you get little messages saying, 'you internet is unstable'."

Lesley Westwood lives a little further away, at Ohope Beach.

She's been using Zoom for a while now - she recently tried to use the function where you can change your video background.

"I tried that the other day but I couldn't actually make that work, but yes I know you can do it - so each day is a learning day."

Westwood said even though the classes were on Zoom, she was still getting a good workout.

"It's really good for your soul, it's good for a laugh, it's good physical stuff and oh my god, I drip.

"When I've finished 50 minutes of Zumba Gold, I drip, so I have a towel and a bottle of water and the bottle of water is empty by the time I'm finished and the towel's wet."

Sides said the Zumba classes have provided some welcome relief during lockdown.

"You might get up in the morning and think, 'oh another day' sort of thing, and then you go to Zumba and by the end of the session I feel great actually, I feel really, really good.

"I suppose it's the exercise, I suppose it's the camaraderie, but you come out with a big smile on your face."

And Neuhauser knows that for her ladies, her classes aren't just about exercise, and even on Zoom, it's a chance for them to catch up and see each other.

"Yes, it is an exercise class, but for me it's more important how they feel emotionally and if I see the smile on their faces after class, then I've done my job."

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