Women loving Zumba in Middletown

by Robert Mitchell

“Ditch the workout, join the party!”—Zumba motto

Members of the Hispanic women’s ministry at The Salvation Army in Middletown, N.Y., are not just dancing like nobody’s watching. The 20 to 35 women who come out every Tuesday night have also chosen to Zumba like everyone’s watching.

“We’ve definitely had a big response with people coming out,” says Captain Andrew Allen, the co-commanding officer in Middletown. “It’s a great opportunity to incorporate the program with exercise and fitness.”

The Hispanic women’s ministry, led by Enid Ortiz, has offered several activities for members, including bingo, crafts, and jewelry-making, as everyone engages in Christian fellowship.

When Orlando Torres, a community health outreach coordinator for Orange County, N.Y., and a licensed Zumba instructor, offered to teach it at the corps more than a year ago, the women kicked up their heels for the idea. Zumba is a Latin-inspired fitness dance program.

“I believe this is a great opportunity for us to get to know more about the people we serve daily in our community as well as the people from our corps,” said Noel Rodriguez, the corps ministry assistant in Middletown.

Allen said about 75% to 80% of the people coming to the corps for social services speak Spanish and are invited to Zumba.

“We just try and incorporate folks into Zumba whether they initially come in for food pantry or diapers or whatever the case may be,” Allen said. “We have seen a big crossover from social services to getting involved in that Hispanic women’s ministries program. Many women who come to that program also volunteer at the corps during the day to help with food pantry and things like that.”

Allen said the women also get a spiritual component as Ortiz “incorporates different aspects of worship and prayer into the weekly program.” Enid, who speaks Spanish, also volunteers at the front desk and around the corps in different ministries.

The Salvation Army in Middletown, N.Y., can be reached here: