In the summer of 2010 I was on holiday in Utah and I was staying with my dear friend Dena. I call Dena "Mama Bailey" because with her red hair, freckles and feisty personality I sometimes think I came directly from her womb. This is me and Dena in 2006:
And here I am with Dena and her family in 2012. She's blond in this pic and she's rocking it. Not sure I could pull it off. I'm not even going to try:
Dena and the Bailey family make me very happy but they are not, in actual fact, the protagonists of today's story. I shall save that one for another time. But the Bailey family and Dena, in particular, are (unwittingly) responsible for bringing into my life the people who ARE the stars of this here blog post. Allow me to explain.
During my visit in the summer of 2010 Dena was working as a swim coach at her local gym in Draper, Utah - Treehouse Athletic Club. I decided to join her one day, feeling the need for a spot of light exercise. I perused a list of the classes on offer and one caught my eye. ZUMBA. What is this Zumba? I thought to myself, intrigued. There aren't many exercise classes that begin with a Z. I was sold. I turned up to the class not knowing what to expect, I mean, I hadn't even had time to google it which is what we all do when we're about to embark upon something new, right? Tis the font of all knowledge after all. The music started - latin beats. Ooooh! I was liking it already. Ten minutes in and I was convinced I had just discovered the best exercise class in the world! Twenty minutes later and I was desperate to find out if this was something I could teach myself. Turns out, after chatting to Camilo from Columbia that ANYONE could become a Zumba instructor! EUUUUREKA!
Back in the Bailey household I promptly signed myself up to a course in Birmingham on September 10th 2010. I booked a venue - the hall at Magdalen College School in Brackley where I had taught Spanish and French for five years - and I spread the word.
On the very first night, Wednesday 3rd November 2010 one hundred and twenty hot, sweaty bodies were crammed into the hall and you can see them in action right HERE.
That was three and a half years ago and the ladies (and the occasional bloke) of Brackley and beyond continue to bring (sweaty) sunshine into my life every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evening. They aren't just my Zumba crew, they are my friends, every single one of them, whether they have been attending my classes since the very beginning or just joined the madness last week.
I have watched as life long friendships have been forged, I have witnessed ladies shed an incredible amount of weight and increase in confidence, I have felt a inordinate sense of pride and gratitude as together, over two zumbathons, we raised an astonishing £13,000 for our chosen charities. In short, I have been part of something truly wonderful that has made a difference, and continues to make a difference in the lives of individuals and the community at large.
Here are some pictures of my beloved Crew over the years and our many wild and crazy antics!
These people make me very, very happy.