After being Zumba-less for a month in Tanzania, I was excited to get back to it. I did my usual pre-trip research on zumba.com, emailed some local instructors, and I also found a Facebook group for Cape Town Zumba Addicts which listed a lot of local events.
ZINs take note: they are desparate for Zumbawear down here! You could probably fund a trip to Cape Town by filling your suitcase with clothing and selling it…
I have been blown away by how friendly and close-knit the community is! After a few emails and a Facebook post, I had lots of messages with people offering me class info, rides to classes, and guest access to gyms. (Many classes happen at gyms here… I was hoping to get a short-term membership, but it was just way too expensive.) I’m incredibly grateful that so many people have offered to list me as their guest!
In 3 days I’ve been to 3 different classes. Class sizes are big here – the smallest one was probably 30 people, and that’s because it was a holiday weekend. Most seem to be around 50-80 students!
My first class was with the BioRithim group on Saturay morning. This is a family affair – Omar is the community leader for South African instructors, his wife Marel also teaches, as does their son Mansoor (who is the only South African Zumba Jammer – aka choreographer instructor), and Mansoor’s wife Rukaya is also an instructor. They teach together 3 times a week, they also all teach at various gyms separately, plus they rehearse together twice a week. Oh, and several of them have day jobs, too. (I’m exhausted just thinking about all that!)
Omar & Marel were teaching that morning and they were so incredibly welcoming! They have a huge hall at a high school filled with such a diverse student group – people of all different colours, shapes, sizes, age and gender. And everyone loves to shake it! (Marel can seriously booty-pop like no one’s business!) They are easy to follow, and make the whole class such a fun and positive experience for everyone.
Sunday morning was Mansoor’s class, which was overflowing a decent-sized studio at a Virgin Active gym. I can see why everyone loves him – he’s a fantastic dancer, has infectious energy, and is incredibly nice. And his whole family was there to help out and dance along. Everyone greeted me with hugs and smiles – they are all so sincerely warm & friendly.
After class I grabbed breakfast with two of the other Zumba Addicts. We took turns grilling each other about life in Cape Town/America, and also talked politics, family life, and Zumba gossip (of course). I loved getting to know them and Cindy knows about every class in the city so she’s been a great Zumba tour guide!
Monday night I went to Taryn’s class. She’s an incredible bundle of energy in a tiny package. She teaches 12 classes a week (!!), and on some nights does 2 classes back to back. She’s lost an impressive 40kg (88 lbs) thanks to Zumba and making adjustments to her diet – its an inspiring story! Her Monday night class is essentially held on a basketball court, and she’s got enough energy to reach to the other end of the building – its impressive!
I’ve been in many different countries with many different instructors now, but the feeling is the same – everyone is incredibly welcoming to visitors… no matter how packed the class, they are happy to make room for one more. The established teachers always encourage new instructors by having them lead a song or co-teach songs with them. Its such a consistently supportive environment, which is really amazing and I’m so grateful for it. (The belly dancing community in SF was much more competitive so this is a nice difference.)
Each instructor has invited me to do a couple songs, which is fun but also a great way for me to improve my own skills. Teaching to unfamiliar students in these various venues is great experience, plus its helpful to see how different teachers cue their students. And of course, its always fun to dance to new routines!
I’m here for another 10 days and Omar has basically outlined a schedule where I have a class with a different teacher every day! I may have to take a day or two off so I have time to be a tourist (ha), but I’m blown away by what a closecommunity this is and how much they support each other and their students.