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Ogdensburg Zumba instructor: it’s about being healthy, not skinny

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Nicole L. Kendall lost over 100 pounds through Zumba, and now she is on a mission to encourage others to give the exercise method a try.

It all started when the city resident gained 60 pounds during her pregnancy with her first child in 2012.

“I was 282 pounds,” Mrs. Kendall said Wednesday. “I was unhealthy. I realized I need to be around for as long as possible for my son. I want to play tag for as long as his little feet will run. I didn’t want my body to stop before his. I needed to make a change, so I did.”

Women of all ages, shapes and sizes dance as part of her program. Mrs. Kendall calls them her “girls,” many of whom have been with her since she started in October 2012.

She currently has classes of up to 49 women who attend her hour-long classes at Northern Physical Therapy, 203 State St., Ogdensburg, and Pickens Hall, 83 State St., Heuvelton. She said that number is growing as time goes on.

“It’s hard not to get emotional about it,” she said. “It’s amazing. We have this little family. We all communicate through Facebook, encourage each other and take trips to the gym together when we’re not in class.”

Walking into her class, it feels more like a Friday night at the dance club then a night at the gym. Women hoot and holler as they move to aerobic dances that include salsa and hip-hop flair. And there is lots of “booty bouncing and shaking,” as Mrs. Kendall calls it.

“That’s what I want,” Mrs. Kendall said. “If I could have strobe lights and disco ball, I probably would. Many of these girls are moms. It is hard for them to get away. Coming here, they get to dance and scream at the top of their lungs. I want them to relax in a completely judgment-free zone, enjoy themselves, and feel accomplished when they leave.”

Some of the students drive from other communities just to attend Mrs. Kendall’s class.

“I find her classes very exciting,” Becky S. Piercey said. “She really gets into it. Not only do you have a good workout, but everyone is friends here. You can have a good time and mingle with all for your friends. It’s a fun thing to do, especially during the winter time.”

Mrs. Kendall, who works during the day as a scheduler for Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, Ogdensburg, says her dream is to one day open a fitness center that offers different classes such as spinning and yoga, and, of course, more Zumba.

“I want it to be a place for men and women to come and be themselves,” she said. “For me, it’s not just about diet, it’s about

lifestyle. You don’t have to be on a diet to eat salad. It’s about all about getting up, moving and having fun. It’s not about weight or getting skinny. It’s about being healthy.”

Her classes run from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays and 10 to 11 a.m. Saturdays at Northern Physical Therapy, and from 7 to 8 p.m. Thursdays at Pickens Hall. Classes are $5 per person. For more information, visit the “Zumba with Nicole Kendall” Facebook page.

To see video accompanying this story, go online to www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBadpVLd0NU

Zumba with Nicole L. Kendall
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