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Student finds ways to make fitness fun, prior experience used to teach dance aerobics class

Feb 23 • Features • 2984

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While students all come to college for a degree in a chosen field, it’s common for students to find other ways to utilize time that is happier spent on things other than studying.

For junior occupational therapy major Jenna Sadowski, dance is used both in and out of the classroom.

Sadowski is a fitness instructor for the university, teaching dance aerobics classes on Mondays and Wednesdays to students who have signed up for them. While the classes are not for any sort of credit to be put on a transcript, they are beneficial in their own way.

Sadowski, from Frewsburg, N.Y., thought of the idea to bring dance aerobics to campus when she transferred to Gannon from Jamestown Community College this year. She began her dance career at the age of 5 with tap and jazz lessons and continued for six years. She also participated in musicals throughout elementary school and through high school as well.

Sadowski further advanced her knowledge of dance after the choreographer of her school musicals, Tiffany Wakeley, opened her own dance school in Jamestown, N.Y. Wakeley asked Sadowski to help her instruct dance.

“I was very honored to be a part of the family at the studio,” Sadowski said. “I miss it dearly.”

Sadowski served as Wakeley’s assistant at the studio from 2008 to 2010 before transferring to Gannon.

She took tap, jazz and lyrical under Wakeley and then helped her teach tap, jazz, lyrical, some hip-hop and other forms of dance to individuals ages 3 to 18.

For the 2009-2010 season, Sadowski also served as the dance aerobics instructor at the studio. She volunteered to choreograph a dance number for the Lakewood Area Junior Miss Scholarship Program, instructing a tap dance for 16 individuals around the age of 9. The contestants were referred to as “little sisters.”

“It was a very exciting and challenging experience,” she said. “It was the first time I had ever done something like that.”

Sadowski originally became involved in dance aerobics after Wakeley encouraged her to do so for the 2009-2010 season, saying that she had an outgoing personality that was perfect for the job.

“She was my mentor, and I looked up to her a lot of my life as a teenager, an employee, a student and a friend,” Sadowski said. “With her instilling that courage in me, I decided I’d teach the class and ended up loving it so much that when I transferred to Gannon, I decided I wanted to bring it to this campus.”

Katie Bauer, a junior occupational therapy major, takes Sadowski’s dance aerobic class every Monday from 5 to 5:45 p.m.

The class costs $20, and runs until the end of the semester. Bauer said she heard about it through her roommate who found it on the GU Portal and decided to take it as a way to spice up traditional exercising.

“I love the class because it makes working out really fun and exciting,” she said. “You can’t really tell you’re working out until you feel it in your muscles afterwards. The 45 minutes really flies by.”

The class begins with a steady warm up accompanied by a couple of slow songs and stretches, and then it switches to a cardio workout and upbeat songs with traditional dance moves. Incorporated into the routine are basic workout routines like lunges, crunches, side planks, squats and core strengthening before ending with a five-minute cool down.

Bauer said she loves having Sadowski as an instructor.

“She’s very energetic, and it keeps the rest of the class upbeat,” Bauer said. “If you were to have a class with great music but a boring instructor, it wouldn’t make the students in the class want to come back.”

Sadowski said that technically, dance aerobics is very similar to Jazzercise. She said that before each class, she comes up with easy, fun and quick-to-learn dance steps, inspired mostly from her experience as a dance instructor.

She said that dancing, in any form, is an important form of exercise.

“You incorporate so many muscle groups when you’re dancing,” she said. “It’s fun, and you don’t even realize the workout you’re getting.”

Jade Mitchell, a freshman journalism communications major, also takes the dance aerobics course on Monday evenings. As a fellow dancer, Mitchell said she really enjoys Sadowski’s technique.

“Jenna enthusiastically leads the class through heart-pounding aerobic dance workouts,” she said. “Forty-five minutes feels like 10 when you are dancing the time away with her.”

If you are interested in taking a dance aerobics class or any of the other fitness classes with available spaces, contact Don Henry, director of the Carneval Athletic Pavilion, at 814-871-7768 or at henry001@gannon.edu.

JANAE BUTLER

butler009@gannon.edu

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