Photo courtesy of Sondra Howard
Studio owner and instructor Lisa Ziebell, center, sways to the rhythm of Latin American music during one of her full Zumba classes. Z Studio opened in October 2010 and offers a unique work-out experience with dance fitness
Warm up your muscles, strap on your dancing shoes, and get ready to move those hips to some of the hottest Latin music around. Z Studio, an empty East End warehouse turned chic dance fitness mecca, is Winona’s newest one stop shop for all things Zumba. Since opening its doors two years ago, studio owner Lisa Ziebell has introduced the dance fitness craze to many Winonans.
The two-studio hall, where upbeat Latin and hip hop music usually resounds from loud speakers, was quiet Monday morning. However, a bubbly Ziebell was prepping for the day’s activities, which consisted of the popular Zumba, and Tone and Tighten classes. An extremely fit Ziebell has her mother, of all people, to credit for the motivation to start the business adventure, and to also live a healthy life.
“My fitness journey started early on after my mother passed away from obesity,” she explained. “I was aware that my mom was a bigger gal and as I became more aware of her inabilities, it made me want to take better care of myself. It was a difficult time but I knew that I had to make a positive change in my life.”
Ziebell immediately joined what was then the Winona YWCA. Her love of fitness and dance grew stronger, and she became a certified instructor of Turbo Kickboxing in 2004 and Zumba in 2007. Ziebell then collaborated with Winona Community Education to bring dance fitness to the community.
“I started the class in the winter of 2008 and took over the Middle School gymnasium,” she said. “I would have taught in the street if I had to. I wanted this class to help people and I am so grateful for the community education program that allowed me to get this class off the ground.”
While teaching with community education, an old warehouse on the east end of Third Street became available, and Ziebell danced her way into a renovation project. With the help of family and friends, she worked throughout the entire summer of 2010 fixing up the building. That fall, Z Studio was open for business.
With hot pink paint on the walls, full body mirrors line the studio, and a shining hardwood floor, the space is perfect for dance fitness. Ziebell says taking on her own business was a frightening concept, but said it was the her mother's memory that motivated her to push forward.
“The first day we were open, people were shoulder to shoulder, crammed into the studio,” Ziebell said. “We had one ad in the Winona Post and that was it. Everyone else heard about the studio by word-of-mouth. It was surprising, just—wow—to see all those people there.”
In February 2011, just four months after the studio opened, Z Studio cleared out a second space to offer more classes to a rapidly growing clientele. Studio A and Studio B comprise a sprawling 1,700-square-foot dance hall dedicated to Zumba, Zumbatonic—which is Zumba for kids—yoga, pilates, T’ai Chi, Turbo Kickboxing, Hip Hop HUSTLE, and belly dancing.
“Zumba is meant to be taught with Latin music. I love this style of music because it makes me feel like I’m on vacation somewhere warm,” Ziebell said. “When we do the Hip Hop HUSTLE classes or Turbo Kickboxing, we are jamming to current music. It’s a different variety of dance for each class.”
Ziebell prides herself on getting people to exercise without their realizing they are exercising. Described as exercise in disguise, the Zumba class has men and women shaking their hips for an hour without feeling like they are working out.
“This isn’t exercising, we don’t use that word. This is dance fitness,” Ziebell explained. “Zumba is for everyone, whether you’re two or 22, you’ll start to feel the music motivating you to keep dancing. It’s hard to explain but everyone feels so positive after a class.”
Eleven trained instructors, including Ziebell, offer a variety of classes Monday through Saturday. Next month, the studio will become a seven-days-a-week fitness studio dedicated to Zumba.
“I don’t think people realize how much time and effort our Z Crew puts into making this business a success,” Ziebell said. It takes "a lot of getting to know the music and learning choreography. I hope they know what they bring to the studio. I cannot do this by myself. I’m really lucky.
“I love what I do. I wouldn’t want to do anything else but this.”
If you love Zumba or haven't tried it and are curious, Z Studio has collaborated with Winona State University, which is celebrating a year-round wellness theme, to offer a free, adult-only day of Zumba on Sunday in the upper level of the Integrated Wellness Complex on the WSU campus.
The "Day of Dance Fitness" has two sessions in which participants can get a taste of the Zumba and Hip Hop HUSTLE classes offered at Z Studio.
Session One begins at 11:30 a.m. with a 45-minute Zumba class, followed by a 45-mintue session of Hip Hop HUSTLE at 12:16 p.m.
Session Two begins at 1:30 p.m. with a 45-minute Hip Hop HUSTLE class, followed by a 45-minute Zumba session at 2:16 p.m.
The event is free and open to anyone 18 and older. Participants can choose to do one or both sessions. Bring a good pair of shoes and loose fitting clothes.
For more information about Z Studio, call Lisa Ziebell at 507-429-5952 or visit the website www.zstudiowinona.com.
Day of Dance Fitness free
event sponsored by WSU and
When: Sunday, Oct. 28
Time: Two sessions at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Place: Upper level of the Integrated Wellness Complex