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Columbia residents start Happy New U with fitness activities

Sunday, January 1, 2012 | 3:28 p.m. CST; updated 6:00 p.m. CST, Sunday, January 1, 2012
Stacie Houston, 66, does Tai Chi at the Activity and Recreation Center during the Happy New U event Sunday. Houston has been doing Tai Chi for three years. The annual fitness event is open to the public for free. The event featured workouts and demonstrations of activities such as Tai Chi, Pilates, yoga, Jazzercise, Zumba, belly dancing, spinning and more.

COLUMBIA — The fourth annual Happy New U drew more than 200 Columbia residents Sunday morning to start the new year with workouts from Zumba to belly dance.

The free fitness event was held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on New Year's Day at the Activity and Recreation Center on Ash Street.

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Tables filled the lobby, where participants could sign up for activities and request more information.  Near the tables, a Jazzercise trainer was dancing on a mini-stage and a group of people was practicing Tai Chi.

The event scheduled four workout sessions, each lasting 20 to 25 minutes, plus the one-hour "biggest workout," where everyone could sample activities on the basketball court.

Offerings included Zumba, spinning, yoga and Tai Chi. Belly dancing, cross-fitness training and a play area for kids were new this year.

Ten minutes before the first session started, Charlene Morrow, 42, and her daughter, Tionna Jackson, 15, checked the schedule in hallway to decide which activities to try.

"We are going to start with spinning, then Zumba, the 'biggest workout' and maybe yoga," Morrow said, looking at the schedule.

Jackson said she came to the event with her mom to check out the different workout opportunities.

That’s what Angie Connell, co-chair of Happy New U, wanted to provide to Columbia residents.

“We wanted to help people start the year with different activities,” Connell said.

Matt Kitzi, 37, brought his two children, Eva, 8, and Boone, 2. His wife, Laura,  was one of the instructors at the Jazzercise session. The children played at the Flipz USA tumbling venue. 

The three of them joined the "biggest workout" session where Laura Kitzi and other instructors led a Jazzercise workout.

In the Zumba session, Larry Staton, 60, was on the front row dancing to Beyoncé’s "Run the World (Girls)." He said he has practiced Zumba since when it was first introduced to the United States.

Staton said he knew some of the trainers at Happy New U and came to the event to support them, as well as to try other activities. He said he likes the cardio and flexibility that Zumba gives him.

In the belly dance session, Ruth Walters, 59, learned how to sway and swivel her hips. She tried the dance a few years ago, but this was her first time actually learning how to do it.

"I enjoyed moving my hips," Walters said after the workout.


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