“Most fairy tales are warm and fuzzy, but mine started off on (literally) a cold note. In January of 2016, I was driving towards a new life, in the middle of a snowstorm. I was the definition of ‘new year, new me’, as I was moving to the state of New Hampshire to start a new job and life.
As I was beginning to adapt to new faces and people, I thought it might be a good idea to go back to a former hobby of mine: taking Zumba classes. Dance had always been a passion of mine and I even had acquired my license to teach Zumba, but I hadn’t found the courage to actually do it yet.
I looked up local classes and found an instructor by the name of Carrie, whose class I decided to try out. I was so nervous, I’m not sure why. But on February 13th, I showed up 15 minutes late, I was the only guy in the class, and it turned out to be amazing! Carrie was quite the firecracker. She blew me away as an instructor and I told myself in that moment that I would pursue teaching. I wrote Carrie on Facebook introducing myself and she replied on Valentine’s Day. I should have taken that as a sign.
Over the next few months, I became a regular in Carrie’s classes and she became a friend and a mentor to me. I even spoke to my family about her and they knew her as la maestra loca (the crazy teacher). She encouraged me to teach a song or two in her class and even asked me to sub for her when she went out of town. I was beyond nervous to do that, but she inspired me and helped me prepare for weeks in advance. I found myself developing feelings for her, but was scared to mess up the Zumba relationship we had developed.
One day, I invited Carrie out to see Captain America (we’re both nerds) and we had such a good time that we made a date for later in the week. We went out for dinner followed by a walk on the beach. We were under the moon, sitting on the sand, and the moment felt right for a kiss. It happened. It was magical. And there was no turning back.
It’s been two years since I met Carrie and there are so many memories that were made possible because of the magic of Zumba. Because of it and its power to bring people together, I was able to find more than a machete, reggaeton-stomp, a shimmy, and single-single-double. I was able to find the beautiful love of my life.
And now, this Valentine’s Day, we have something else to celebrate.
Looking back, I am very thankful that I showed up to that class on February 13, 2016!”
– Diego Melendez, licensed Zumba® Instructor, living proof that the magic and power of Zumba is the real deal!
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Photo credit: Victor Kong, Panda Fotos