Colombian dance teacher Catalina Gonzalez says the purpose of her Zumba classes for seniors is to create joy and connection.
A knee injury, combined with the discovery she enjoyed spending time with older people, led dancer Catalina Gonzalez to focus on teaching seniors dance classes.
Catalina moved to Australia from Colombia in 2009, keen to start her life anew by leaving behind her corporate career in marketing for engineering companies.
‘My plan was to start again from scratch, so I embraced everything,’ Catalina says. That everything included becoming a dance teacher.
‘In Colombia, pretty much everybody dances; dancing and music is a very big part of our culture.’
Catalina also began volunteering with the Melbourne’s City Ambassador tourism program.
‘I was one of the youngest. They were all over 60 and it was so much fun. We became really good friends and I realised I loved hanging out with older people.’
So, after a knee injury caused her to rethink the pace and impact of mainstream Zumba classes, Catalina decided to focus mainly on Zumba Gold, a modified low-impact class for older people. The same fun with less intensity!
The majority of the ‘Goldies’ in her classes are women, but their ages range from 50 all the way up to 97. Some classes for the less able bodied are seated.
‘We hug, we dance together, we do bum bumps (like fist bumps…), it’s so fun. Everybody loves it,’ Catalina says.
‘You would think the benefit is more physical but, for me, the physical part is a bonus. The main purpose of what we do is create joy and connection. Some of them say I help keep them young!’
Catalina has been involved in the Victorian Seniors Festival since 2015, with her time commitment growing each year, culminating in the 2019 Colombian Carnival held at the Town Hall and Festival Day.
‘I had a team of 20 musicians, dancers and entertainers from my social enterprise Mosaik Experiences and we got every single person up and dancing.’
Watch Catalina's performance now.