ucy Watkins has been attending Zumba classes at Newport Live since she was 11 years old. As she approaches her 17th birthday, her fellow classmates decided to surprise her with a very special gift.
At the end of Monday night’s class at Newport Centre, instructor Mandy Knight led the class in presenting Lucy with a place on a course where she will train to become a Zumba instructor – all paid for by donations from her classmates. Their donations exceeded the cost of the course so Lucy’s instructor-branded top will also be purchased for her.
“Lucy’s been coming to us for such a long time and, with her birthday coming up, I decided to book her training as she will then be old enough to be an instructor,” said Mandy. "When I asked some of her classmates if they’d be up for contributing, I was totally overwhelmed by the response and can’t thank everyone enough for their donations. Zumba really is about support and community!”
“I am totally gobsmacked; I was not expecting this at all,” said Lucy shortly after receiving her gift. “I’m so grateful to everyone for their support, and I can’t wait to start teaching! Zumba is a great discipline in that it caters for everyone, regardless of age or fitness level, as long as you're willing to have fun and join the party!”
“She will make a fab instructor,” said Mandy. “She already knows so many of the routines and is so passionate about inspiring others to be happier and healthier – the very ethos of Newport Live!”
Lucy aims to inspire other women and girls to participate in active leisure; Sport Wales reports that, despite the progress made in recent years, there is a gender gap in sports participation levels from teenage years onwards – a situation that has seen little change in the last two decades. There is a balanced picture of provision and participation for girls and boys at the primary school age, but a persistent gap from around the ages of 12 or 13 through to adulthood.
“It’s really important to get as many young people, especially girls, into sport and fitness due to the endless health benefits,” said Lucy. “I have experienced these first hand being a student; exercise and Zumba, in particular, has allowed me to de-stress from exam pressures.”
Newport Live is a registered charitable trust that runs Active Living Centre, Newport Centre, Newport International Sports Village (including the Regional Pool & Tennis Centre, Newport Stadium and Wales National Velodrome), and The Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre. It is one of the only fitness providers in the area that offers extensive leisure options to juniors as well as adults.
As well as being home to gyms, pools, racquet sports and much more, Newport Live also offers over 120 Group Exercise classes every week and has just been shortlisted for Group Exercise Club/Class of the Year at the South Wales Fitness Awards.
“Group Exercise classes are great for helping people to achieve their goals, no matter what their level of fitness is,” said Mandy. “The positive feelings you get from a group class help mental well-being as well as physical fitness. Classes are fantastic for people who may be new to exercise and are nervous about joining in – they’re great fun and have a real sense of community, which keeps people coming back week after week and getting results. A lot of our class members come to meet up with their friends whilst exercising, so there’s a real social aspect to group exercise too.”