Whoopi, it’s gospel Zumba! Salford vicar and 101-year-old gran get in on class act

A Salford vicar and a 101-year-old gran are taking tips from classic musical Sister Act by attending gospel Zumba classes.

A vicar, professional dancer, community group, Salford City Council’s health improvement team and a host of elderly women have teamed up to form the non-religious gospel Zumba class.

The class, which is hosted at Ordsall’s St Clements Church, aims to aid local residents in leading more active and healthy lifestyles.

The typical Latin-Zumba rhythms have been replaced with gospel music and, as seen in the famous 90’s musical starring Whoopi Goldberg, the music is helping draw an increasing numbers of people into the church to take part each week.

Ruth Abou Rached, senior community health developer of Salford City Council said: “Our youngest dancer is in her mid 20’s, but we have several ladies who are in their 70’s and 80’s and one lady who is 101.

“Salford has some of the most serious health problems in England so we’ll try anything to encourage people to take more exercise.

“Gospel Zumba is showing them that getting moving, being active and gently improving your fitness can be great fun.

“It’s an excellent class because the music is such fun and you can go at your own pace…we’ve even had people singing along and doing part of the routine sitting down.”

Even Reverend Sandra Kearney, vicar of St Clements, has decided to get in on the act, and often takes part in classes.

“The On Your Doorstep group use the church’s community hall for a variety of activities every week and they wanted something different to draw more people in,” Reverend Kearney said.

“Gospel Zumba is certainly doing that, everyone loves the gospel rhythm whether they’re religious or not, it’s just lovely music to move around to.”  

The outlandish idea came from Carloid Haughton, a professional dancer who has toured the world on cruise ships following his training at the Northern Ballet School.

Mr Haughton, who recently returned to Greater Manchester from America, met with Salford City Council’s health improvement team in a chance encounter with, and proposed his Gospel Zumba class to help boost health and fitness.

As a result of the classes, Ms Rached said increasing numbers have taken up gym memberships and taking more of a general interest in other classes alongside healthy lifestyles.

She said: “Our health improvement service has supported the group for a while now with various projects to help boost local health and wellbeing and are now working to help them launch a fund raising drive to secure £2,000 a year to run and expand Gospel Zumba sessions.”

Image courtesy of Columbia Pictures, via YouTube, with thanks.

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