In honor of Studio Z Fitness owner Kathryn Zbikowski’s birthday month, the women in the 9 a.m. Zumba class on Friday, Jan. 11, combined dancing with strength training exercises for each letter of the word “birthday.”
The class participants — many over the age of 60 — danced to “Don’t stop the party” then began their circuits with burpees.
“I like to push them out of their box,” said Coach Z, as she’s best known. “It’s all about just trying new things. Come out of your comfort zone and try something new. You’ll never know if you’ll like it or not unless you try it.”
In between the sets, you could see smiles form from the ladies in the packed room at 160 Cypress Point Parkway Suite D112.
You could also see sweat. “Our fat is crying,” joked Audrey Maynard, 64, who went from size 22 to a size eight. She was a member for five years and then became certified to teach Zumba one year ago.
In January 2018, Cheryl Bensley challenged herself to get back in shape. She joined a gym but didn’t enjoy working out there, she said.
“When I came here, it was unbelievable,” Bensley said. “I dropped weight, I toned up. I’m 63 years old, and it’s like I’m more energetic. I ride my bike, we do hiking trips, we’ve gone kayaking, paddle boarding and mountain biking, which I’ve never done. It was wonderful. It’s a fun group of women. We support one another.”
Cheryl Few, 62, echoed Bensley’s enthusiasm for trying new things.
Few got involved with the studio one year ago after still struggling with her weight following gastric bypass surgery. She was a size 24 and is now a 14/16, Coach Z said.
Nancy Zakrzewski, 67, only recently moved to Palm Coast, but she said this is the best thing she’s ever done by herself.
“You get stronger, but it’s functional strength,” Zakrzewski said. “I can do things that I have not been able to do in years.”
The studio, which has been in Palm Coast for six years, focuses on being a place “for real women.”
“I want it to be for women only because I don’t want that intimidating environment that you may or may not find in a gym,” Coach Z said. “People go and they’re worried about what they look like. I don’t want that here; come as you are, be who you are, grow into who you want to become here and that’s how we are. And we all support each other.”
Sherri Hunter emphasized that transformations are different for everyone.
“What I want to say is we’re a women studio — all fitness, all sizes — and we come to support one another to your own level,” Hunter said. “My weight didn’t change, but I lost two pant sizes. So, I burned and toned. My bone density went up, so I saw improvements that maybe didn’t look to the outside, but to the inside and my well-being. The support is awesome. You come and if you’re not here a couple of days, there’s accountability.”
Coach Z isn’t just preaching to the choir when she pushes her students to work harder though. She’s still pushing herself toward her goals.
“I started here because I knew I needed to do something,” said Coach Z, who began her weight-loss journey at 300 pounds. “I used to dance, so I started with Zumba, fell in love with it, the weight started to come off. … Then I said, ‘Well, I want to eat a little bit better, maybe the weight will come off faster.’ So, then I did that. And then I thought this was so amazing, I wanted to become an instructor. And I started inspiring other women. From there it just snowballed.”
Call 446-4333 or search for “Studio ZFit” on Facebook.