I have seen Zumba® impact people in many ways. Zumba® goes so far beyond exercise and dancing. It is a vehicle for mental and physical change, happiness and health. For me, Zumba® not only changed my life but it SAVED my life.
Several years ago, in April 2003, I was faced with a severe health issue. I underwent a total of 6 brain surgeries between April 2003 and October 2003. It was so severe, that in order to restore some of my brain function, sections of my back muscles were fused with my brain in order to perform life saving reconstruction. Some of the lasting effects from that time were muscle weakness, difficulty with balance, severe headaches, muscle stiffness, the onset of Rheumatoid Arthritis, weight gain and the list goes on. The immobility and daily pain were destroying my body, mind and soul.
This battle was tough not only physically but more so emotionally. Ultimately, I surrendered to the struggle and was content with just being alive. I conceded to the fact that my life would be filled with pain and that someday I may have to accept that I could possibly end up in a wheel chair. I felt as if I had been robbed of the joy in my life. I existed but did not live life.
It took a lot of soul searching to realize that I didn't want to just survive but I wanted quality in my daily life. It was then that my quest began with a simple diet to unload the weight I had packed on. I was searching for an exercise activity which would help me with weight loss since I had so many limitations placed on me. I had heard through the grapevine of this thing called Zumba®. I started looking into classes. Low and behold there were several classes offered in my own back yard.
I attended my first Zumba® class in April 2009. I was hooked from the very first beat. The music and movement was so uplifting and invigorating. It was an activity that I could do at my own pace and still benefit. It was fun and it made me feel such joy inside, it was the catalyst and answer to what had been absent for so long. The more classes I attended the easier it became and the weight started coming off. To date, I have lost a total of 200 lbs. The weight loss is just the icing on the cake. The true gift is that I have regained 90% of my mobility. I no longer battle the daily pain. It has been months since I've had a flare up with my arthritis. Even my balance and endurance have improved dramatically. The pain has subsided and I can truly say I am happy and feel alive for the first time in years. I feel that Zumba® breathed new life into me. Between January 2011 and May 2011, I completed B1 and B2 training and taught my first Zumba® class in March 2011. Three years ago I would have never dreamt that any of this was in the realm of possibility. Let alone that I would be a Zumba® instructor and living life to its fullest.
Although my weight loss journey is not over, I am confident that with Zumba® I will accomplish my goal. What can't be measured on a scale is the rebirth I have felt being part of the Zumba® community. The love, support, strength and friendship I've experienced cannot be measured or defined. I have been blessed to have participated in the Zumba experience with some very special members of your community, starting with Tanya Beardsley and my mentors, friend and inspiration Emperatriz Ochoa . She didn't realize it at the time, but she nurtured a spark in me which allowed me to reach in deep, work hard and change my life. Others may see Zumba® as just simply dancing and it transcends and embodies so much more than words can express. You feel it, breathe it, live it and I hope to share it.
Today I am able to look back on what was a very dark time in my life and proudly say I survived. I credit Zumba® for helping me work my way back into truly appreciating and living life. I can now look forward to a life full of joy, energy and health. I have truly experienced Zumba® Love and would be honored to share it with you.