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Dancing the Way to Good Health

BY HOPE HARRINGTON OAKES
Staff Writer
hopeharringtonoakes@gmail.com

Hope Harrington Oakes/The Packet Terri Doumit teaches Zumba to the young and old at The Fitness Connection. A former educator, Doumit is attempting to spread the magic of Zumba throughout the Golden Triangle for health and entertainment purposes.

Hope Harrington Oakes/The Packet
Terri Doumit teaches Zumba to the young and old at The Fitness Connection. A former educator, Doumit is attempting to spread the magic of Zumba throughout the Golden Triangle for health and entertainment purposes.

Some people have a gift for the love of teaching.  Columbus resident Terri Doumit is one of those people.  She is not only the Media Specialist at Annunciation Catholic School in Columbus, but is also a Certified Zumba Instructor who teaches Zumba fitness classes to children at different schools and The Fitness Factor.
“Working with children is just easy for me because I’ve been doing it for so many years,” Doumit said.
Doumit holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education, as well as a Master’s degree in Reading Literacy.  She taught first grade for several years, but she said she stopped when her son, Andrew, was born.
Andrew was born with special needs, so Doumit said she stayed home to take care of him, due to physical issues he had as an infant.  Once he was older, Doumit tried to return to teaching.
“I decided I wanted to work part-time, but there just aren’t that many positions open in the field of education,” Doumit said. “Annunciation had a part-time position in Library Media, so with my degree I decided to work there just a couple days a week.  It allowed me to be able to take Andrew to school and pick him up when I needed to, or at least be home when he got off the bus.”
Doumit said she spends a lot of time thinking about keeping healthy through exercise and eating right.  She was diagnosed many years ago with Graves ’ disease, an autoimmune disease that can result in hyperthyroidism, but she is currently in remission, something she attributes to medication, along with diet and exercise.
Doumit said she learned how to do Zumba for her own health and loved it.  Thinking it would be a fun thing for kids to learn,Doumit said she got her Zumba Certification so she could teach at Annunciation, thanks to a cultural diversity grant that she and her colleague, Karen Overstreet, wrote.
“Zumba’s fun for kids.  It comes naturally, so I thought it would be perfect for kids,” Doumit said.
Doumit tailored the choreography using child-like moves, and songs that are appropriate (with no cursing or suggestive lyrics) for children. She said the enthusiasm of the children has been inspiring.
“It makes it so easy for me,” Doumit said. “They get so excited!  The kids will ask me at school ‘Are we doing Zumba today?’  I have to tell them no, sometimes, and they are like ‘Aw, man!’ They love to do it.  They’re motivating me, and I hope that I’m motivating casino them to be more physically active, at the same time.”
Doumit said she was surprised when she discovered that choreographed dancing burns more calories than many different kinds of exercises like running.
“It doesn’t take a lot of time, and you can incorporate weights into it, as well,” Doumit said. “You can play around, and laugh and just get a little silly. I’ve noticed that the more kids I have in a class, the more lively it gets, the more fun it is.  They stay pretty busy.  The younger they are, you have to work a little bit harder to control them. But once they learn the routine, it’s much easier to keep them involved.”
During the school year, Doumit he teaches at Stokes-Beard Elementary and Annunciation School, both of which are in Columbus.  During summer break, she teaches two classes twice a week at The Fitness Factor.  The first class is for ages 3 to 7 and the second class is for ages 8 and up.
“I think that there’s definitely a need,” said Beth Jeffers, Owner of The Fitness Factor. “The obesity rates in children are increasing. Kids are more sedentary than they used to be and this is a fun way for them to get activity.  They seem to respond and love it.”
West Point resident Nikki Dexter is driven to Columbus twice a week by her grandmother, Diane Dexter,  to participate with her sister, Bailey, in the ages 8 and up class.
“Miss Terri is so much fun as a teacher,” said Nikki Dexter. “I love all of the dancing we do. Bailey, likes the cool-down section the best.”
Doumit said she would like to keep on doing her part in helping kids learn that exercise can be so fun they’ll continue to do it.
“In all the time that I’ve worked with children, I hope that I’ve helped instill that love of fitness and the desire to be healthy,” Doumit said. “I’d  really like them to know that it’s not what our physical shell looks like, but what our inside looks like.  Health and fitness, that’s what it’s all about.”

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