The music is thumping. We’re moving together but yet to our own beats. Heart pounding fast, I’m sweating from head to toe. It’s early Saturday morning and I’m dancing at a Zumba class at CardioGlow, a new group fitness studio in Barrington.
Upon entering the airy studio for the first time for an 8am class, I’m welcomed by 15 or so cheerful women. Owner Kathleen Gantz, the morning’s instructor, comes over to warmly greet me and show me around. She walks me to the lounge in the back where a handful of kids are reading and quietly playing on their tablets. “Families are always welcome here. Kids really love this area,” Kathleen says. Handing me a mason jar of water and a clean towel, she leads me over to a wall fitted with small shelves. Each guest gets their own shelf to hang their towel and drop their jars. Most of them have frames with inspiring quotes like, “Mistakes are okay – here and everywhere” and “Life is always now.” The class is about to start and Kathleen positions herself at the front.
Zumba is an aerobic dance class that blends high and low intensity movements for a full body workout. The moves are quick but not at all difficult, even for fitness newbies. Leading us from song to song, Kathleen is pure joy. Bopping and swaying to a great mix of dance and Latin music, she has a seemingly permanent smile and twinkle in her eyes. Maybe it’s the endorphins or maybe it’s the fact that she clearly loves what she does. The class is gleaming, too. The combination of upbeat music, fun yet challenging dance rhythms and an encouraging group dynamic makes for an exuberant experience.
“People really get lost in the moment,” Kathleen later tells me. “They forget their to-do lists or what’s troubling them when they’re at Zumba. Dancing can be euphoric.” Euphoria pretty much sums up how I felt, not only at the end of the class as I nodded to the women next to me as to say holy moly, we did it, but also later on throughout the day. It definitely put an extra spring in my step and provided me with a certain yes I can attitude. “Group cardio invokes and evokes,” Kathleen points out. “And that’s the best feeling. That’s the glow.”
A dancer her whole life, Kathleen fell in love with Zumba earlier this year and knew she wanted to create a new type of space for the cardiovascular exercise. When an ideal spot opened up next door to Billy’s restaurant, she took the plunge and opened her uniquely empowering studio in early September. In just a few months she’s added a loyal customer base, a range of instructors, a selection of affordable “athleisure” apparel and a full class schedule that also includes yoga, kids yoga and kids cardio dance. “I wanted to create a sense of community with CardioGlow. People should feel good about taking care of themselves, and have fun too,” she says. “People tell me it’s their happy place. When that happens, it’s mine too.”
286 Maple Avenue