Pulse-pounding rhythms, shaking hips and lively feet might drive you to mistake the New Balance of New Canaan shoe store for a hot night club if you're downtown on a Tuesday night.
Michele Ayoub is the person to watch, as she has enough moves and spirit to get even the staunchest wallflower onto the dance floor. Ayoub leads the charge for good health and community service through her Zumba For A Cause classes.
"People come and say they love it," said Ayoub, who started Zumba For A Cause earlier this year. "You don't have to be a great dancer. You just listen to the music and feel the music."
Ayoub took up Zumba, the dance-like cardio workout, last year as high-energy exercise that doesn't require being on a treadmill for an hour. "The key thing about Zumba is that you're supposed to feel like you're at a party," she said. "I love to dance, and I fell in love with it."
Workout partners who saw Ayoub's energy during Zumba sessions told her she should consider leading classes. She became a certified Zumba instructor, but wanted to give back as well. So she asks her students to donate money or items for local charitable organizations. She usually asks the organizations what they need before her classes.
"There are so many people who could use the help," Ayoub said. "It combines my passion of Zumba and helping others. Doing this would be much more fun and powerful."
Dozens of people have given sweat to causes. A session to benefit the New Canaan Food Pantry brought in 24 bags of groceries. This week's recipient was Strays and Others, a New Canaan-based agency that works to find homes for homeless and abandoned animals. The 25 or so attendees contributed $348 to the animal rescue group.
Ayoub, who works as a private wealth adviser during the day, said getting a little extra money to teach the Zumba classes would be nice, but she's happiest knowing she and other Fairfield County residents are lending a hand. "Not that we all wouldn't like extra income, but I get so much back. I get psychic income. It just fills my soul," she said.
Will you participate in one of Michele Ayoub's Zumba For A Cause classes? Let us know by leaving a comment below. You can also visit our page.