NORMAN — Zumba instructor Tori Collier doesn't even have to turn on the music to bring on the smiles. Residents at Grace Living Center — Norman look forward to her every visit.
But when she does hit the play button, releasing Latin beats as contagious as her grin, that's when the real fun begins.
Energized by the rhythm, the residents — most sitting down or in wheelchairs — swing their arms, pump their fists and stretch from side to side. It's not exercise. It's a dance party.
“I love it. I love everything about it,” said resident Gerry Sweeney, 80. “I look at her and just can't help but smile.”
Sweeney said that despite two artificial hips, she's able to get a good workout during the Zumba sessions.
Collier, a certified instructor, says the sessions are modified so anyone at any age or ability level can follow along.
“You can't do it wrong,” Collier said. “The goal is just to move and enjoy yourself. And this music makes you want to move.”
Charles Bradford, 65, said wheelchair Zumba is a blast.
“It keeps me busy,” he said. “It keeps me on my toes.”
Grace Living Center administrator Josh Wood said regular exercise is important for residents. According to the National Institute on Aging, exercise can help protect against chronic disease, as well as improve mood and balance.
Collier leads more intense Zumba sessions for Grace staff members. Those sessions have proved very popular, too.
“No matter what age you are, exercise that is fun and shared with friends is bound to be repeated,” Wood said.
Grace Living Center — Norman is independently owned and operated.
Susan Simpson is a media specialist for Evergreen Productions Inc.