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Popular Zumba class ending; teacher made class ‘feel like a party’

October 7th, 2012 Posted in Arts and Life

By Dani Hayes

PROVIDENCE – It was when her son asked if she was pregnant that she knew she had to make a change.

“I wasn’t pregnant, I was just fat,” said Isela Phelps, who lives in Providence. Now at 35, Phelps is a marathon runner and a certified instructor in spinning and Zumba. She has been teaching Zumba at Gold’s Gym in Logan for over two years, but has decided to leave the job to spend more time with her family.

Isela Phelps teaches one of the most popular Zumba classes at Gold’s Gym. She’s retiring from the gym to spend more time with her family, and students say they’ll miss her enthusiastic encouragement. Photo courtesy the USU Fun, Fit, Forever program.

Part of her inspiration for peak physical fitness stems from the example she wants her kids to remember.

“I remember running up a little hill and I was dying,” Phelps said. “I said ‘I don’t want to. I can’t do it.’ I came home crying and then I’m like ‘I can’t just give up.’ My youngest is a girl and if I gave up, she’s going to think the same thing.”

She didn’t start out as a runner; she started by walking her son to kindergarten – about a mile from her house. From walking, Phelps started to jog and now she is an avid runner. “My husband told me I could do it,” Phelps said. “So I got me some sneakers and the first time, I was dying.”

Her first race was a 5K in Wellsville.

“I was slow. I was one of the last ones,” Phelps said, “but it made me feel so good. It reassured me that I could do something, that I had the power within me do something and change my life.”

She kept running and eventually did the Ogden Half Marathon. “You know how nervous you get when you’re taking a test? It was like that,” Phelps said. “The day came and I did it and it was the most amazing feeling on the entire planet, and from that day on, I haven’t looked back.”

Phelps started Zumba at Gold’s Gym where she became a certified instructor after going to one class. She found that it was a new way to get a workout. Zumba is a popular Latin dance-inspired cardio workout.

“It was just fun,” Phelps said. “I was working but it didn’t feel hard. It was something that I could look forward to.”

Zumba is a great program that allows women to have an outlet, Phelps said.

“All women, all of them, love to dance,” she said. “I haven’t met one that doesn’t like to dance. Most boyfriends or husbands are not going to take us out to dance every single day and yet, with Zumba we can go and dance to our hearts content in a nice, safe environment.”

Many share Phelps’ opinion.

“Zumba is fun and has lots of high energy,” said Nancy Espino, one of Phelps’ students from Logan. “It doesn’t feel like you are working out, it just feels like you are at a party. It’s fun because you don’t get stress. All the stress that you came in with is gone because you’re laughing at yourself.”

Nancy said Phelps stands out as a teacher because of her energy and personality. Others prefer her Zumba class because of her Hispanic roots as she is from Mexico.

“Isela has more of a Latin beat to her… she is more loose,” said Maria Toledo, a friend of Phelps from Logan. “She has good music and she makes you want to come. She is always smiling and encouraging you.”

“Isela has the best Zumba class I have ever been too,” said Rikki Ruttledge, another student of Phelps’ from Millville. “The songs and dances she does are exciting to do. She makes women feel empowered, makes them feel sexier. I don’t know what I will do without her classes.”

Phelps said she is sad to leave Gold’s Gym but said she feels that she has a responsibility to her children. “I need to spend more time with them because whatever I teach them right now will affect them for the rest of their lives,” she said. “I want my daughter to see me at home every day. I want to be able to sit down with her and do mani-pedis. We must not forget to put our families first because our children are only little once.”

Phelps continues to train for marathons and has a long-time goal to compete in an Iron Man.


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