LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The football season is still months away for the Butler Bears, but the high school team is already working on endurance.
They're getting back into the groove of things by getting their groove on. For the second off-season in a row, Butler players are doing Zumba as a form of conditioning.
"It gets boring every time just doing gasers or suicides and just trying to break it up," said coach Erik Dandy.
Dancing can be a tough sell for teenage boys.
"At first I was nervous, because I knew I couldn't dance, but I didn't want other people to know I couldn't dance," said Darius Jones, a junior defensive back.
It's especially difficult when players don't see themselves as fitting the mold for Zumba.
"I thought it was like just a thing for older people to do to get exercise," said Chaz Burks, a junior quarterback.
But the fast-paced, hard-hitting sport has more in common with the dance workout than they thought.
"You get tired quick," said Burks.
"It gets real intense in here. The mirrors steam up and everything and they're all sweaty, so I feel like they're getting a good benefit out of it," said Dandy.
The high intensity and quick movements of Zumba is acting as cross training that pays off on the field.
"We can run longer, go further on the field," said Jones.
And it doesn't matter how much rhythm they have.
"Me personally, I don't have rhythm, so it can be challenging at times," said Darius Jones.
"Even though I can't dance the best, I feel like if I give the best energy, everyone will feed off of it," said Burks.
They have their Zumba instructor, English teacher Gail Jones, to thank for that.
"You never know an English teacher is going to come down here and start dancing," said Darius Jones.
She's been doing Zumba for seven years, and is now teaching many of the students she's had in class how to move.
"They're smiling and laughing and cheering each other on, and it's a lot of fun," said Gail Jones.
Noticeably absent from the dance floor are the coaches. "I think they can't dance personally," said Darius Jones.
"We're just better dancers than them," said Burks.
"It's the kids turn to get out there, and plus I can't dance," said Coach Dandy.
Gail Jones says she's working on getting the coaches out there, but until then, she's focused on the athletes. She says sitting in the stands, she's seen a big difference on the field.
"They're more of a team. If you can dance, or you can do Zumba together, you can do anything together, especially as teenage boys," said Gail Jones.
They're dancing to a new beat, in hopes of beating their opponents come next football season.
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