I have been on my own roller coaster with weight all my life. I also always hated speaking in front of a crowd and have always been, well, round. When I turned 45, I decided I needed a change. I weighed over 330 pounds and my weight had yo-yo’d for many years while continuing to increase. I was very unhappy with myself and body. One day, I decided to walk into a gym and get a trainer.

My trainer, Dardan, took under his wing and gave me a reason to love coming into the gym. He introduced me to new exercises, like weight lifting and my personal favorite: boxing. He also told me I needed to add a cardio component to help with my weight loss journey. I tried a few different classes that were offered at my gym, and finally found two dance fitness classes: Zumba first, and then BollyX. I became obsessed with both since I’ve always loved to dance. I found a wonderful instructor, David Deleon, who also became a good friend and excellent mentor. He encouraged me to dance up front and not to be shy. I became one of his #1 fans and a self proclaimed “front row diva”. When I mustered up the courage to introduce myself to David, I told him I was his “class stalker”!! He just laughed it off and kept encouraging me to come back to class.

After finding Dardan and David, I began to start loving myself. That new found self love ignited a passion in me to reach for my dreams and motivate myself even further. As I lost weight, I started to pursue group fitness certifications and licenses and  took courses for BollyX, Zumba, and BollyX LIT. I started teaching Zumba and lost a total of 135 pounds in 2 years.

Since then, I’ve gained some weight back after I stopped teaching Zumba year ago. Dardan left my gym and, sadly, David passed away suddenly. Sometimes life just gets in the way. But that’s OK: I’m back in the gym working with another trainer Basil and still on my path towards self love and body empowerment.

I recently saw BollyX and Shahil at the SCW Midwest convention and took a BollyX class. I got to dance again and it lifted my spirits to get back on track with my dreams and goals. My journey on body empowerment and self love never ends and one day I hope teach a class near you!

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