This month we asked members to vote on a class instructor to be our member of the month. We tallied the votes and Natasha was the winner. "[She has] great routines, attitude and smile," one member wrote. The night I interviewed Natasha, I noticed how she went out of her way to introduce herself to new members. Natasha has been teaching ZUMBA Fitness for RHF's Ladies Night since June 2014.
RHF: What do you like most about Rainier Health & Fitness?
Natasha: That it is a very special community-oriented gym with beautiful people who are warm and loving and caring about the people here and about their community. Also it’s the welcoming feeling you get when you come in that everybody is welcome and everybody belongs here and that their mission is to be serving and promoting health and fitness in a neighborhood that is in an underserved part of the city.
RHF: What’s your favorite thing about ZUMBA fitness?
Natasha: I just love to dance! And I’m absolutely thrilled that I get to exercise, get healthy and work out while I’m doing something that I’m so passionate about and have so much fun doing.
RHF: What’s your favorite song to ZUMBA to?
Natasha: Really the true answer is whatever is the most recent one that I’ve learned and currently that’s “Shake It Off.” Because I get tired of them, so I like the fresh ones.
RHF: How did you become interested in ZUMBA fitness?
Natasha: I just heard about it for awhile and then around 2010 when I was pregnant I went to my first class and said “ZUMBA where have you been all my life?!” I was just smitten and was I was sold. I mean everybody who takes class from me—and you’ve probably seen it—I mean, I’m just giddy.
RHF: I saw on your bio that you also trained in Nicaragua. How did that come about?
Natasha: It’s a long story. So basically I had breast cancer in 2012 and left my job to do treatment. I’m very healthy today and ZUMBA is part of that. My husband was laid off from his job so he wasn’t working and I wasn’t working and I finished cancer treatments successfully so we said, ‘Let’s go have a great life adventure and do something on my bucket list!’ Nicaragua wasn’t particularly on my bucket list but just living and immersing in another culture and we just kinda determined that Nicaragua was the right place for us. We basically lived and immersed in our community and were friends and neighbors and did a little volunteering at a library and creative arts center for kids in a poor barrio and it was just incredible. So I was studying Spanish and I had already started doing ZUMBA. They didn’t actually have any ZUMBA classes there although they had a local gym. I approached the owner and I said, ‘Are you gonna start up a ZUMBA class?’ and he said, ‘Well, we don’t have anyone to teach it.’ And I said, ‘Well I’m not certified or anything but I’ll do it.’ So this is the crazy irony because I was teaching Latino dance to Latina women and not doing it very well to begin with. So then I got certified while visiting my family in Florida and started doing a little bit better. Part of what draws me to do ZUMBA is I love the Latin grooves; I love those dances—they’re sensual and groovy.
RHF: Thanks for sharing that part of your story with us!
Natasha: It’s been a crazy few years for us but incredible gifts have come out of great hardship, and I shouldn’t say ‘great hardship’ but hardship and loss—it’s nothing compared to what some people have.
RHF: Alright, last question: name your favorite healthy snack and one guilty pleasure.
Natasha: Baby carrots and hummus and for a little indulgence with Goddess dressing from PCC. And a guilty pleasure would be snickers bars.