How two women are popularising Zumba in Meghalaya

‘Scotland of the East’ is not falling behind in terms of trainers for gyms and dance classes in every corner, but to search for a Zumba instructor is an uphill task. 'Where there is a will there is a way', two trailblazers from Meghalaya are leading from the front
How two women are popularising Zumba in Meghalaya
Dapalei Stacy Warjri and Ritibaiahunlang JyrwaFile photo

By Ladiangti Rani

SHILLONG:

Dance and fitness have become more of a lifestyle for millennia these days. Everyone seems to have become more conscious of their health and bodies. Crossfit to Keto Diet is the resort to look sharp in an ever-demanding society.

Zumba, a workout which fuses dance and fitness has caught up in the country and ‘Scotland of the East’ is not falling behind in terms of trainers for gyms and dance classes in every corner, but to search for a Zumba instructor is an uphill task. 'Where there is a will there is a way', two trailblazers from Meghalaya are leading from the front.

TNT-The Northeast Today met with two Zumba Instructors: Dapalei Stacy Warjri, a certified trainer in Zumba toning and the first Zumba trainer from Meghalaya, and Ritibaiahunlang Jyrwa, who is the first strongbyZumba instructor from Meghalaya and got the chance to learn more about this fitness program.

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TNT: How did you get into Zumba?

DAPALEI STACY WARJRI: It all started when I applied for the post of a dietitian at Pinewood Hotel gym when the owner and a few of his managers asked me if I would teach Zumba to the clients at his gym. It was then when I knew the word Zumba and wanted to learn more about it.

A friend by the name of Shane Mendes who was based in Bangalore patched me a few contacts in Mumbai.

I knew then it was what I wanted, and to be certified I went for it and became an official Zumba Instructor.

Sucheta Pal (Zumba global brand ambassador for India and the lead Zumba Education Specialist trained me) and saw the potential in me eventually helping me grow in Zumba. That was when my thought process changed and I thought about my goals and what I wanted to accomplish.

Zumba shaped my personality and when I came back to Shillong, having earned my Certificate as a professional and thinking that I can immediately start working, that is how it all began.

I started with two clients at the Pinewood Gym and I even had to pay for my membership and it was expensive. I knew I could not survive, so I dropped in applications at every gym I knew of. But excuses kept raining, “Zumba is new, nobody would care to join, lack of space” and many other excuses that took the believed out of me, REJECTED.

What led me here today were those two clients who I started with. They told their friends and family and everything took off. I got recruited from every school across the city, government initiatives, Touchline, Gold’s Gym and eventually my new Academy, Linna’s Dance and Fitness Academy.

TNT: Why Zumba?

DAPALEI STACY WARJRI: Having a sister who is my role model, I was engraved with dancing too and have represented the State at various levels. I have realised that the only thing I could give back to society was the dance itself.

Zumba became my life and to make a much bigger impact. Dancing, an official certified Zumba Instructor, Masters in Food Nutrition and Dietetics all just blend along and helped me grow in my life every day and made me who I am today.

TNT: What is the primary concern your client asks frequently?

DAPALEI STACY WARJRI: “HOW DO WE LOSE WEIGHT???” especially belly fats. But most of my clients are suffering from lifestyle diseases, diabetes, depression, PCOD/PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), thyroid, Blood pressure, just to name a few.

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TNT: Challenges faced?

DAPALEI STACY WARJRI: It was not a straightforward journey. Speaking of acceptance, Zumba and I have come along way together, so much down the road coming up. I would appreciate it if more people would join us as much as my clients have.

A humble request to the state government(Meghalaya) to launch initiatives and especially to the general masses to open their hearts and minds to an improved world, healthy and free from diseases. The beginning of my journey will forever be vivid in my mind. I had a lot of haters, people booing me, writing me off, I was threatened inside my studio, on the phone, it was a tough time but was blessed with so many people who loved me, strengthened me, family and friends, the empathy they shared with me was truly immense.

TNT: Why should one join this class?

DAPALEI STACY WARJRI: Health is wealth, No matter how sad or happy one is, we can always share and enjoy a session together, spreading love and happiness, smiling and laughing, which helps us emotionally. A sound mind is a strong body. Zumba allows us to be stress-free, free from anything else that might bother us, but just to enjoy the session body, mind and spirit.

TNT: Is Zumba for all ages?

DAPALEI STACY WARJRI: Zumba is actually for everyone. There is no such age bar without worrying much about the aches and pulls. Different modules are set according to the age of the person.

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TNT: What made you choose Zumba as a career?

RITIBAIAHUNLANG JYRWA: I never thought of anything like Zumba to ever be my career as a professional. I started as a plain Dance Instructor at Linna Dance and Fitness Academy where I met a friend, sister, Dapalei Stacy Warjri.

She was the one who convinced me to pursue Zumba as a career and get certified. The road to Zumba was tough when I spoke to my mother about it and she supported me throughout the way. I joined an academy in Guwahati where I was trained by Zes Ajay Roy. It was then that my eyes and heart were open about what Zumba stands for. I instantly fell in love with it and knew it was what I wanted right away. Having earned my Zumba Certificate, I went for Strong Zumba as well.

The real struggled was when I had to start my sessions with the clients and I did not know where to begin. I lacked professionalism, self-confidence, and how to approach the people who will learn from me. It took some time, but eventually, through God’s Grace, everything worked out perfectly.

TNT: What does strong by Zumba means?

RITIBAIAHUNLANG JYRWA: Strong by Zumba revolutionises group fitness by syncing high-intensity cardio and conditioning moves to music to create an optimal total body High-Intensity Tempo Training (HIIT) workout that differs from any other fitness program on the market.

The beat will challenge your muscles and cardio system to find power, strength, speed, stamina, and mobility.

TNT: Why is this workout necessary?

RITIBAIAHUNLANG JYRWA: Strong by Zumba will keep you moving to various custom beats, making it easy to lose track of time and get lost in the workout. This program can provide incredibly high energy, maximum demand workout for fit individuals, challenging them to new personal heights of fitness achievement.

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TNT: In this world with technology, we could get classes through various apps as well. What is the difference between this and the app videos?

RITIBAIAHUNLANG JYRWA: The music for STRONG by Zumba has been developed specifically for this program and reversed engineered to match the moves and provide perfect synchronisation.

Using the science of ‘Synced Music Motivation’, the music and movements have pushed students past their perceived limits to deliver better, faster results. The music which has created for this program where moves are syncing makes a difference with other fitness programs in the market.

TNT: Why is it that there are only two Zumba instructors from Meghalaya?

RITIBAIAHUNLANG JYRWA: I can tell that being an official Zumba/Strong Instructor is difficult. It is not easy being one, the membership fee is difficult to be met with, and if there’s any Instructor, I guess this is one reason they are not certified anymore.

Another reason would be that clients are difficult to get, few people are aware of what we do, or maybe unsure of what we do, and so on.

People must understand that Zumba has multiple health benefits.

A few other factors would be time, money and many other things. I hope we can make a big global impact through what we do and reach people more and more and especially for more Instructors to come up and pursue Zumba as a career.

We can always work together and aim for a better and fitter world!

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