If seniors in Paulina Chong’s Zumba fitness dance classes are concentrating too hard on perfecting their technique, she urges them to just enjoy moving to the beat of the music.

Smiles are the focus of Paulina Chong’s Zumba fitness dance classes.

‘There's no right or wrong.' Paulina says.

'My focus is for them to have fun with moves that will get their adrenalin pumping,’

‘Exercise is also meant to raise our spirits.  I want to see smiles. My mission is accomplished when I leave the participants feeling good about themselves and enjoying the moment. And it starts with a smile! When we smile, the mind transforms itself. Studies have shown our body language does govern how we think and feel about ourselves.’

Paulina began learning different dance styles as an adult, taking classes on everything from ballroom and Latin dance to jazz, tap, rock and roll and belly-dancing.

When her mum went into aged care, Paulina would put on shows for the residents and was buoyed by their reaction.

‘They wanted to join in. It made them feel alive…when you begin to move you create energy and that uplifts you and enhances your wellbeing.’

Paulina is a qualified Zumba Gold (a lower-intensity version for older people) and Zumba Toning (using weights) instructor. She leads sessions in nursing homes and also volunteers at the University of the Third Age (U3A), where around 70 older adults regularly take her classes.

In 2018, Whitehorse Council presented Paulina with a Community Achievement Award for her work with U3A Nunawading, which has included organising a flash mob dance to highlight the issue of elder abuse.

‘It's something that I want to give back to the community,’ Paulina says. ‘I’ve found my calling.’

Watch Paulina's Seniors Festival Reimagined interview and performance