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George Mason University

Zumba to the rescue: Mason Engineering staffer offers free virtual workout classes

April 2, 2020   /   by Nanci Hellmich

“I’m providing an outlet for others to get up and move, and I’m spreading joy and love, which is exactly what we need right now in this difficult time.”

— Verronica Mitchell, office manager for the Department of Statistics

Verronica Mitchell from the Department of Statistics is offering free Zumba classes virtually.

Verronica Mitchell, the office manager and assistant to the chair for the Department of Statistics, is offering free Zumba classes via Facebook Live and Zoom. She says it's rewarding for her to know that she's making a difference.

With so many people cooped up during the coronavirus pandemic, Verronica Mitchell, a Mason Engineering staffer and certified Zumba instructor, knew she wanted to step up to provide workout classes, and she had the dance steps to make that happen.

When a Facebook friend asked her to teach Zumba classes virtually, Mitchell jumped at the chance. "People need ways to continue to move even though they are at home,” says Mitchell, the office manager and assistant to the chair for the Department of Statistics.

A few weeks ago, she began teaching two free classes a week on Facebook Live via a private group and another one on Saturday morning via Zoom. Zumba features dance moves to Latin and international music.

 “A lot of people have joined my Zumba classes, and they are having a blast while working up a sweat,” she says. “It is a great way for people to stay connected. It’s fun, and it’s a good workout.”

Besides burning calories, exercise helps improve your mental health. “When we move our endorphins kick in which helps with triggering positive feelings and reducing stress and anxiety,” she says.

Mitchell teaches from her home in Fairfax where she lives with her husband, Melvin and their two children, Nathaniel, 13, and Sophia, 11.

Her students have included family members and friends from Alabama, Connecticut, Texas, Florida, Germany, and the Washington, D.C.-area, and she invites people from the Mason community to join too.

“It’s a fun dance party. If you’re not sure about the moves, that’s OK, just keep moving,” says Mitchell, an Army veteran. “The classes are for anyone who wants to sweat and not think about what’s going on in the world.”

Participants appreciate Mitchell’s energy and enthusiasm, telling her that the class has given them something to look forward to during the week, has helped break up the monotony of their day, made them sweat, and most of all brought them joy. She started a Go Fund Me campaign in lieu of charging for the classes, and all of the donations go directly to a local food bank. 

Giving back is paying off for her. “It’s rewarding to me, knowing that I’m making a difference,” Mitchell says.

“I’m providing an outlet for others to get up and move, and I’m spreading joy and love, which is exactly what we need right now in this difficult time.”

Find out more here.

If you’ve done some random acts of kindness for others and would like to share them, please email your story to Nanci Hellmich.

Stories from throughout the Mason community can be submitted here.

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