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Dancing through life

It’s 10:15 on a Monday morning in Beaumont, Texas. The air inside the Calder Woods auditorium is almost as thick as the southeast Texas humidity outside. Nearly 20 senior adults are scattered throughout the space, some sitting, others standing.

Music blaring. Sweat pouring. Toes tapping. Faces beaming.

This is Tricia Deland’s Zumba class, a twice-weekly ritual that has grown to be a highlight at the senior living community.

“I feel like I get to watch miracles right before my eyes,” said Deland, who’s been leading Zumba classes at Calder Woods since 2015. “They leave feeling looser and more flexible, and they always leave so happy!”

Deland comes every Monday and Thursday to teach the 35-minute class. Each time, she arrives early to help residents in assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing make their way to class. She ensures each session includes modifications so every participant, no matter their physical ability, can feel successful.  

“Some seniors tell me this is better than their physical therapy,” Deland said. “It stimulates their minds, plus they get their cardio in and exercise their lungs. It’s really a workout from top to bottom.”

Many who regularly attend the Zumba class are in their 90’s. According to Deland, Zumba helps improve balance, reduce stress and build strength for every age.

“One man is 90 years old and can kick higher than me! He was an athlete, so he’s just going to keep going!"

Zumba Gold®, the type of Zumba specifically designed for older adults, has one goal: get seniors moving in a fun, lighthearted way. With the upbeat music and easy-to-follow choreography, many participants forget they’re even working out during the class.  

“I would describe Zumba as plain fun!” Deland said. “Dancing and music just make people happy. But you don’t even need to know how to dance. If you can walk, you can Zumba.”

Deland herself started doing Zumba in her 40s to combat her own changing health. Now 55, she’s dropped four sizes and increased her bone strength by 20 years.

“Teaching Zumba, especially with senior adults, has been the biggest blessing,” Deland said. “It’s the first time in my life I feel like God has led me to where I needed to be.”

“Seeing these residents participate Tricia’s Zumba class each week is truly powerful,” said Dianne Christian, life enrichment coordinator at Calder Woods. “Every time they leave class, they’re standing taller, walking stronger and smiling brighter. They make me want to jump in and join the fun!”

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