Dancing is her fancy, at 77

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 Editor's note: Garden Grove resident Loretta Woolley is on the far right in the picture.

Garden Grove resident Loretta Woolley, 77,  has danced her way through the years, keeping pounds off by always enrolling in dance class such as jazz, tap, ballet and now Zumba.

 Editor's note: Garden Grove resident Loretta Woolley is on the far right in the picture.

Garden Grove resident Loretta Woolley, 77,  has danced her way through the years, keeping pounds off by always enrolling in dance class such as jazz, tap, ballet and now Zumba.

Woolley chose Goldenwest and Cypress college's dance programs for affordability, participating in lots of recitals in connection with the dance classes.

“Most of my dancing days have been at Goldenwest College, which is 35 years of dancing: tap, ballet, jazz and aerobics, anything to help me keep physically fit,” she said.

Woolley, the mother of eight children, with 18 grandchildren and three great grandchildren, said she started dance classes after the birth of her last child.

“I was 42 years old when my oldest daughter Corinne, then 20, was attending Goldenwest and asked me to go with her to a jazz class and I never stopped dancing.  That was 1978,” Woolley said.

Woolley said she's been able to maintain her weight of 135 pounds at 5-2 1/2 inches for all of those years and has great vital signs below the average and no osteoporosis.

Her advice to others?

“Exercise is the key to good health and longevity,” she said. “And dancing and Zumba relieves stress.”

Her favorite dance?

“I liked the tap classes at Goldenwest (discontinued) because we also performed in student concerts,” Woolley said. “And we hung out together and were friends.”

She's been doing Zumba for four year and recently, as a helper instructor, Woolley assisted licensed Zumba instructor Lettie Morris with a Zumba demonstration at the Cypress Senior Center, where Zumba is offered in varying degrees of difficulty on an on-going basis.

Some seniors sat and tapped their toes, while others smiled and enjoyed the music as they watched the instructors and still, a few adventurous souls ventured up front to try Zumba steps.

“Loretta's great,” Morris said. “She's always available to help me when I ask.”

Morris said that Zumba is designed for the active older adult, the true beginner or anyone who is not used to exercising.

“Zumba Gold is done at a lower intensity; while you're moving, dancing and having a blast, you're also enjoying a cardio workout and strengthening your muscles and bones,” she said.

“So what are you waiting for? Ditch the workout and join the party,” Morris said. “Dance your way to better fitness to the Latin rhythms of Salsa, Merengue, Cha Cha, Mambo and Cumbia – no partner needed.”

Morris' 8:15 a.m. Saturday-morning classes at the Cypress Senior Center averages 50 men and women of all ages; Morris has been teaching Zumba for five years.

Zumba started 12 years ago in Columbia, becoming popular in America in 2005 in Florida, in the Miami area and then it made its way to Southern California and is now worldwide.

“In Rome, Hawaii and China, Zumba is really big,” Morris said. “It's a way to meet new people and get toned, lose weight –  losing 500 to 1,000 calories per hour, depending on how active you are, with diet and exercise you can lose weight.”

There's also Zumbatomic for children and there's a program for seniors to sit in a chair, which is more of a fitness program rather than a dance program.

Think you can't do Zumba because you don't dance? All you have to do is follow the instructor.

“It's easier than line dancing,” Morris said. “Whatever you do, you have to be consistent; we have a lot of fun. Come join us and release your happy cells. Let your hair down and reduce your high blood pressure."

Zumba had its beginnings in the 1990s, when Zumba founder Columbian Beto Perez forgot his tape of aerobic music for a class he was teaching and so he took the tapes he had in his backpack, consisting of traditional salsa and Merengue music and improvised a class using the non-traditional aerobic music.

Moving to the United States in 2001, he teamed up with cofounder Alberto Perlman and a childhood friend, Alberto Aghion and together, they produced a demo reel, and then the concept was discovered and licensed by a company called Fitness Quest. That's how Zumba began in the U.S.