Local Dancer Opens "ZumYoLates" Studio
Published: July 26th, 2022
By: Sarah Genter

Local dancer opens "ZumYoLates" studio ZumYoLates classes begin with a yoga sequence to warm up, then gradually move into pilates, before then moving into the higher intensity Zumba dances. Classes are $15 to participate and are offered at 6 p.m. on Thursdays and 10 a.m. on Saturdays at the ZumYoLates studio, located at 13 to 15 South Broad Street and accessible through the East Main Street parking lot. (Photo by Sarah Genter)

NORWICH — Local dancer and teacher Samantha Valashinas has taken her lifelong passion for dance and created her own blend of popular dance and fitness techniques called "ZumYoLates" — a mix of Zumba, yoga, and pilates.

"I do it on purpose to bring the heart rate up, but also to bring the heart rate back down, and to make it so that people are able to master the class, because I thought coming out of everything that we just came out of, doing an hour of Zumba was not ideal for anyone," Valashinas explained.

"As it turns out, the way that I’ve tailored the class, I find that it’s really a hard class even though we start on the ground doing yoga, and then we come to stand and do a dance, and do a dance, and go back to the ground, and we do some pilates, and stand up, do a dance," she continued. "People like it, and I think it’s achievable. I think people are able to do it because of the way I’ve tailored the class."

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The ZumYoLates studio is located at 13 to 15 South Broad Street, also known as the Renaissance Building, and is accessible through the back entrance in the East Main Street parking lot.

The hour-long classes are offered twice a week, at 6 p.m. on Thursdays and 10 a.m. on Saturdays. It costs $15 to participate, and pre-registration is not required. However, Valashinas noted the August 4 class has been cancelled.

Participants don't need to bring anything with them either. Valashinas said the studio has a hard floor for dancing and cardio, but also a carpeted side that's perfect for yoga. Water bottles are available for purchase as well, as are ZumYoLates T-shirts printed by In Motion Designs, another downtown Norwich business.

While she likes to change up the yoga and pilates each class, Valashinas said she keeps the Zumba dances the same for a while, to allow participants to get better and eventually master them.

"I don’t always do the same yoga, the same pilates. That is always kind of different. But the Zumba songs are the same, because I feel like since I started the girls that do come, the girls that are the most consistent, are finally really getting the dances," she said. "In order for your body to get the most out of it, you need to know what you’re doing and which way you’re going, anticipating what is coming next."

Valashinas opened the doors to her studio earlier this year, as a way to rekindle and utilize the skills she learned from a lifetime of dancing.

"I missed dancing and I’ve always wanted to have a studio, and then this was available," she said. "I studied ballet from the age of two all throughout high school, and I actually did go to college for dance initially. I went to SUNY Purchase, but then I decided I was going to be a teacher, and ended up going to SUNY Oneonta."

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In addition to her college experience, Valashinas also attended the School for Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati, Ohio; danced onstage with the New York City Ballet for two summers; danced onstage on the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) outdoor stage; and studied and taught with Perkins School of the Arts in Norwich.

"I also did a lot of training with the yoga and the exercise portion of my background in Oneonta," she added. "I'm certified in Zumba and PiYo, which is pilates and yoga, and that’s how I came up with the creation of ZumYoLates, to put it all together."

But, ZumYoLates is not just a fun way to stay fit or crush New Year's resolutions. Valashinas said the classes are also meant to be a place where women can gather, network, and support each other.

"On the shirts and stuff, it says 'The ZumYoLates Club.' So it was to get women to come together to form some sort of camaraderie and have women empowering women," she said. "I think now I can start something, I can take it a step further than just an exercise class, because I want to do a gathering."

"Instead of class on a Thursday night, now I want all of the women who have been coming religiously, now we’re all going to get together," she continued. "It could be something as simple as food and libations, or it could be, like I talked about like a purse party. Everybody bring a purse, a purse exchange. I could bring in doTerra, I could bring in other vendors, other people who have an area of expertise and something to offer the community."

More information on ZumYoLates can be found at ZumYoLates.com, Facebook.com/ZumYoLates, and @zumyolates on Instagram. Questions can be directed to zumyolates@gmail.com, or by calling or texting 913-815-0077.

"With the calisthenics and with the yoga and the pilates, I know that at the end of the class I’ve worked really hard," said Valashinas. "I always feel very rejuvenated after I’m done, and I think everybody else does, too."