'Where's Me?' Zumba Changes Venues
This roaming East Cobb-based hip-hop workout series led by Mechelle Burd culminates at the Marietta Square May 7.
Not everyone looks forward to Monday mornings, but a growing group of East Cobb women do—that’s when they get to get down with a series of hip-hop moves and basic boogeying during outdoor Zumba-inspired classes called “Where’s Me?”
Every Monday for the past nine weeks this spring, East Cobb fitness instructor and certified Zumba teacher Michelle Burd has been helping women get in shape through the funky urban routines she choreographs, changing the class location each week.
The grand finale of the series takes place on Monday, May 7 at the Marietta Square starting at 10:15 a.m.
From East Cobb Park, to neighborhood clubhouses, to palatial East Cobb homes with private tennis courts, Burd has conducted her popular Zumba classes outdoors and out loud.
“It’s like Where’s Waldo,” Burd says. “We’re someplace different each time.” She gets the word out through her Facebook page, Zumba with Mechelle. She encourages those who visit her wall to “Like” her and thereby get the scoop on the next class venue and start times.
And like her, they do. More than 250 people have given her the Facebook thumbs up. Burd created Where’s Me to address the overwhelming popularity of her classes at East Cobb's Women’s Premier Fitness, where attendance has been elbow-to-elbow at each class.
Inside the gym, the class size is limited and is offered on a first-come basis. At local outdoor sites throughout town, there’s room to spread out and the vibe is more “low key,” Burd says.
Burd teaches at the gym twice each week, but Monday's are reserved for "Where's Me?"
Lisa Page, a long time student of Burd's, says that "Where’s Me?" is a nice change. “It’s nice to be in the fresh air with a little sun on you,” Page says.
Children in strollers are welcome, which makes it even easier for moms with toddlers in tow to join the fun.
And pausing in the middle of a dance routine to nurse a child in a non-gym setting is not a problem. “So if you’ve got to man up to your little guy, go ahead.” Burd says.
Mothers have been known to practice their moves right along side their little ones or while standing nearby the swing set while copying Burd’s moves.
Crystal Brackley of East Cobb loves being able to bring her nine-month-old daughter with her to Zumba class. “I don’t have to leave my kids in order to exercise,” she says. Brackley, mother of three, says Zumba in the morning is a stress reliever for her. “I’m not tired at 3 o’clock every day. I have enough energy to keep going.”
And while the promise of health and fitness through Zumba is the main objective, Burd herself seems to have achieved near-cult-like celebrity status among a broad group of her neighbors of all ages.
Page says Burd’s personality makes you want to dance, even if you believe you’re not a good dancer. “Mechelle is encouraging and her personality is so infectious that you want to dance as she does, and have fun with it.” She credits Burd’s choice of music—a mixture of urban, pop, and Latin—and the ease in which Burd teaches the choreography for keeping the classes appealing.
“The next thing you know, it has been an hour, and you have gotten a really good workout…plus, you might be able to use some of those moves at the next wedding reception or girls night out,” Page says.
Burd, mother of four, spends the first few minutes of class sharing personal stories with her students before they begin their warm up. “She takes the time to talk to and listen to members before and after class,” Page says. Burd recently shared the story of a recent trip to the emergency room when her young son decided to “practice” peeling a piece of fruit with a sharp knife.
The come-as-you-are format of "Where’s Me?" is also inexpensive. Classes are $5. Burd’s father, a former professional hockey player, helps man the portable front desk, a card table and folding chair. “I’m the brains of the operation," jokes Hartland Monahan.
Monahan seems most proud of Burd’s ability to draw a crowd for a meaningful cause like last summer’s Zumba in the East Cobb Park event where Burd was deemed a “Diva” instructor. The event helped raise money for It’s the Journey, Inc., a group that supports the fight against breast cancer.
In January, Burd encouraged her fans and friends to support the Sweet Bea Fund to aid young Beatrice, a Marietta child who was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer late last year.
Monahan says Burd provides a lot of fun for her students, “and they love it,” he says. “They absolutely love it.”