By Colleen Flaherty
Fort Hood Herald
All that was missing was a disco ball Saturday during the second annual Zumbathon Family Fitness Party at Abrams Gym.
Sweats replaced going out garb and water was the drink of choice, but the all-night dance session seemed more like a giant party than a workout.
And that's the not-so-hidden secret behind Zumba's popularity, instructor Sharon Jackson said.
People generally don't like to work out, she said, but they do like to dance.
"Really, that's all we're doing, we're dancing, having a good time."
Jackson was one of a dozen instructors from across greater Killeen who helped lead the Zumbathon from 6 to 10 p.m.
The event was organized by JaNelle Casson, director of youth sports and fitness for Fort Hood's Directorate of Family, Morale, Wellness and Recreation.
More than 250 people were expected to attend, she said, and while no official count was available Saturday, the gym was packed with kids and adults grooving to the Latin and African-dance infused fitness craze that originated in South America.
Some were veteran Zumba enthusiasts and others were jumping in, head-first.
A very pregnant Heidi Nebel, 23, of Killeen, had never done Zumba before, she said. But at 37 weeks, she was willing to try anything that might speed things along.
"I'm done with this," she said. "Something's gotta get this baby moving."
Her mom, fellow Zumba virgin Nicky Aspedon, was by her side the entire time, in the stead of Nebel's recently deployed husband.
"She thinks I'm nuts," Nebel said.
Both women said they might consider Zumba as a way to exercise after the baby is born.
"It's good for all ages and levels," Aspedon said. "You can go half-speed and nobody'll complain."
"If I can do it now, I can do it then," Nebel said.
Regular Abrams Zumba attendee Irena Austin, of Fort Hood, brought her 10-year-old son Matthew, a video game enthusiast.
"I wanted to take him away from the TV for a little bit," she said.
Matthew said he was less than enthusiastic about dancing for four hours, but put in a good effort.
The family aspect of Zumba at Fort Hood is what makes it unique among the post's other fitness programs, Casson said.
"They can all come and enjoy the same activity together," she said.
Contact Colleen Flaherty at email@example.com or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.
Kid-friendly family Zumba classes are held at 5 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at the Bronco Youth Center and at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays at Walker School Age Care.
Abrams gym offers Zumba classes from 1 to 2 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday and from 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Resiliency Campus' Functional Fitness Center.