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When Carolina Arias from Temuco, Chile, first chanced upon Zumba, little did she know that such an encounter would save her from the life crisis that she was experiencing. So how did this 34-year-old group fitness instructor and personal trainer of 13 years who then spoke little English in a foreign land of New Zealand, blossomed into one of Zumba’s internationally well-known and highly-respected licensed specialists? Carolina shares with us her life transformation and her joy in doing – as described in her own words – one of the best jobs in the world.

Why did you decide to leave Chile for New Zealand?
I moved to NZ on May 2006 because I was going though some personal problems and decided to move away from Chile to clear my head. In the mean time, I learned English. New Zealand seemed far enough (laughs)!
Tell us more about your life crisis then.
I had just turned 29 and suddenly I found myself lost. Not really knowing if what I was doing at that time was making me happy, I knew deep inside I needed a change. I was quite depressed.
How were you introduced to Zumba and what was your first taste of Zumba like?
I used to work for this gym in Auckland and for a long time, my manager wanted me to teach a Latin dance class but I was really trying to concentrate on my personal trainer business. One day, he got a promotional flyer about a Zumba Basic 1 instructors’ training. At his insistence, I registered. Before I attended the training, I have to admit that I was not sure if Zumba was even a real fitness program. But after the training, my perception about the program changed completely… I knew that I could change so many lives for good by teaching it and help people to get fitter and healthier with a FUN type of exercise class.
Did you ever plan to be a fitness instructor in the first place?
Being in the fitness industry as an instructor, a PE teacher or a trainer was always my dream. My dad didn’t believe that at first, so he wanted me to study a ‘traditional’ career. As a result, I studied Public Relations from 1997 to 1999. After that I told him, “Ok… I’ve done it. Can I ask you just one last favor before I leave the nest?” He almost knew what I was going to say. I asked him if he could help me just for one more year so I could study full time as a fitness instructor and personal trainer, and he agreed!

How has Zumba changed and improved your life?
Not only has it changed my life but I believe it makes me a better person. I feel better and it’s very rewarding to know that you are helping your participants by doing what you know, love and do best. I am at the happiest I’ve ever been.

What do you love most about teaching Zumba?
I love to teach my classes just to see the participants’ faces… they enjoy it so much! I love the connection that we as instructors can create with people while teaching. I love to see how participants improve coordination, balance, get stronger and feel free.

Do you miss Chile?
I do miss my family a lot. I am very lucky because I visit at least once a year

Zumba

You were in Singapore on 17 November 2012 to teach a one-day Zumba event to a crowd of hundreds. How do you find Singapore?
Love it! It’s such a beautiful city! Easy to get around, people are very friendly. It’s nice and hot. Love the shopping too!

Describe Zumba to someone who has never tried it. How different is it from other forms of fitness?
Zumba is a dance and fitness class where you can get to dance latin and rhythms from all over the world. You don’t need to be a great dancer… you just bring your energy and we’ll make sure you have the time of your life! Zumba is easy to follow. You can go at your own pace and the most important factor of the class is the music. If we “feel” the music, we want to move more… if we move more, we get fitter and burn more calories.

What are your dreams and plans for 2013?
Have another healthy happy year helping grow our Zumba Community.

Check out more on Carolina Arias at http://carolinaarias.zumba.com/

This article was published on Vida De Latinos’ online magazine, 1 December 2012

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