I first discovered Zumba Fitness in 2007 when I was a freshman at Slippery Rock University, studying for my bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. Upon leaving for college, I gave up 15 years of dance training, which was my complete passion, to pursue a more achievable dream: to help others in health, wellness, and rehabilitation. Just like anyone else, I had very little knowledge of what Zumba was and did not attend a class until two of my male friends dragged me to the recreation center. After my first class, I was HOOKED! It combined EVERYTHING that I enjoyed: health, wellness, and dance. Although I had training in tap, jazz, ballet, and hip hop, nothing prepared me to move like a Latin diva! I studied my instructor’s movements and attempted to mimic them as best as I could. A lot of the Zumba attendees seemed to notice how well I caught on (thanks to my dance background!) and I became known as “The Zumba Girl”. A future professor, who later became my college mentor, takes the credit for encouraging me to become an instructor.
After much convincing, I attended a 2 day training in June of 2008 in Pittsburgh, PA. I had the honor
and privilege of being trained by the creator
and founder of Zumba, BETO PEREZ. Those two days were nothing short of
amazing and I left the training feeling like this was where I truly belonged. Shortly
after, I had my very own evening Zumba class at the university and slowly came
out of my shell. One year later, I
joined the Zumba Instructor Network (ZIN) to maintain my license so that I
could continue teaching my NEW passion
in introducing and sharing the Latin inspired fitness party to others. In
addition to Zumba, I also had amazing opportunities to earn other credentials including
a Primary Group Fitness certification
through the Aerobics and Fitness Association
of America (AFAA), a Health Fitness Specialist title through the American
College of Sports Medicine, CPR, AED, and First Aid.
In May of 2011, I moved back
to my hometown, Erie, PA to continue my studies as a graduate student of Gannon
University’s Doctorate of Physical Therapy program. After some convincing, I filmed some of my
original choreography and posted videos on YouTube with Gloria Estefan’s “Wepa”
earning more than 300,000 views.
In the summer of 2012, So You Think You Can Dance
created a contest to have a video clip of instructors dancing to Zumba Fitness’
choreography to Mara's "Crazy Love" and Afrojack's "Can't Stop
Me Now" for National Dance Day. My videos were one of the few clips to
appear on Dizzy Feet Foundation's Facebook page and an episode of the
nationally televised show, So You Think You Can Dance. The summer of 2013
presented me with even more amazing opportunities that I will never forget. I
was able to participate in the Bret
Michaels' "Rockin' for Little Hearts" charity concert as an
opening act with a few fellow ZIN members. We had a shout out on the international Zumba Fitness Facebook page and a photo from the event with Bret himself
displayed in the 2013 Fall issue of ZLife magazine. I was also selected by
a PA ZIN and Zumba's home office to perform as a backup dancer for a local Victoria Justice concert during her new
hit "Shake" as part of Zumba's integration into her tour.
I have learned
from fellow instructors and mentors how important it is to give back and
volunteer. Because of that, I have proudly organized and participated in
several Zumbathon Charity events within
the Western PA region. Some charitable
organizations include: Susan G. Komen
Foundation, MS Society, The Four Diamonds Fund, Relay for Life American Cancer
Society, MDA’s Augie's Quest to Cure ALS, The United Way, We Build People
Program at the Y, The Little Hearts Foundation, and The March of Dimes.
Currently I am residing in Erie, PA, awaiting my graduation from Gannon's PT program in May 2014. I teach at various locations around Erie (please see my classes page) and proudly serve as an ambassador to the Erie community in spreading the word about the hottest fitness party around.
Thank you SO MUCH for reading a little bit about me and my journey with Zumba
Fitness! I have no intentions of leaving
the Zumba world anytime soon, so please come visit me at a class! I would love
to meet you and share my passion and joy for this program!