Michele Ayoub fell in love with Zumba because it reminded her of going out dancing with her friends. It was also more fun than running 5 miles on the treadmill.
“My body changed. My energy level went up, and I was happy,” said the New Canaan resident.
Fast-forward a year and half and Ayoub is now a licensed Zumba dance instructor teaching a weekly class at New Balance in New Canaan. The program she created, called Fitness For Your Cause, offers a Tuesday night class free to the public — but with suggested donations to benefit a local charity. If the week’s theme was the New Canaan Food Pantry, for example, each of her students would bring a bag of groceries.
Ayoub says she came up with the idea of Fitness for Your Cause because she is a mother with a full-time career who understands how tough it is to squeeze volunteer hours and trips to the gym into a busy schedule.
“I was talking to my friends who don’t have to time to work out or volunteer,” she said. “With this you can do both — take an exercise class while you help out.”
The Norwalk Emergency Shelter, the Domestic Violence Crisis Center of Stamford and the New Canaan High School Scholarship Foundation are a few of the organizations to benefit. At a Zumba class in October to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation, 125 people raised money for a cure.
“We made a difference. What could be better than that?” she said.
Ayoub says her son Christopher and her daughter Nicole have started to show their support for the mission. “We’ll be in the car listening to the radio and they’ll say, ‘This would make a great song for Zumba!'”