March 18, 2008


Salsa your way to good health


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Dance and fitness instructor Claire Barrett leads a salsa-style fitness class at the YWCA in Cortland on Wednesday.

Living and Leisure Editor

Fitness instructor Claire Barrett was bored teaching regular aerobics so she turned to Latin dance to spice things up a bit.
Salsa Fit, an aerobics class using salsa dance moves like the cha-cha and mumba, is the result. The class takes place at the YWCA in Cortland.
“I am a regular 9 o’clock class person here three times a week,” said Doris Wright of Homer. “This was something they added. I love to dance. It was really cool, a great opportunity. I am really enjoying it,” she said.
Barrett, a lifelong dancer, a former high school teacher and long time fitness instructor, came to Cortland with her husband, a professor at SUNY Cortland, in August. The couple came here from Cambridge, England.
“I am coming off of maternity leave … so I am excited to get it going. This has been a great audience. The women are very receptive,” she said.
Women in Wednesday’s class moved to sassy Spanish music, doing cha chas, a regular step then throwing their arms up in the air, double meringues, swiveling their hips in place and putting their arms in the air, as well as swaying, turning, shaking — using all of their body as they moved to the music.
“This is the same routine we have been working on for four weeks,” said Laurie Greene, assistant health and fitness director at the YWCA. “We are learning it piece by piece.”
Class sessions take place 9 to 10 a.m. Wednesdays at the Clayton Avenue facility. Starting in April, the class will take place 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. Thursdays. It will also be offered some Saturdays coming in the spring, Barrett said.
“People can show up at any point, (even) once the class gets going,” she said. Newcomers can also try a free class as well to see if they are interested.
“I want them to have fun and get a good work out,” Barrett said of the class participants. “After doing this for 20 or so years, it’s about good music, maybe doing something different and new. Maybe taking a risk with something you are not used to,” she said. “You still feel good and work up a sweat.”
Barrett had met a girl that was originally from Spain, who was also a fitness instructor.
“She taught me some Flamenco and some Spanish dances. I knew some Cuban salsa.”
The two women decided to draw on salsa styles from Spain, Cuba, Miami, and Puerto Rico, to come up with an aerobic routine and Salsa Fit was the result.
“She took it back to Spain and I kept it in Cambridge and kind of developed a whole Salsa Fit and marketed it.”
“I was really bored with teaching regular aerobics. Since I have danced my whole life, it was a natural fit.”