Natalie Burlison has battled more demons in just a few years than most people experience in a lifetime. For any normal teenager, navigating those pre-adolescent years without acquiring permanent scars is a difficult enough task. For Natalie, the challenge was intensified.
At the same time that she was coping with an immediate family member who was combating a very serious illness, Natalie became the unfortunate victim of bullying.
“I became depressed and felt like I had no control over my life,” says Natalie. “Eventually, this resulted in me having an eating disorder. Restricting food was my only source of control.”
Natalie excluded herself from the world completely, staying at home where she could shield herself from bullying, cruelty, and the problems that awaited her outside. It got to the point where she had to make a change before her life got entirely derailed.
“I forced myself to realize that I was capable of getting my life back on track,” says Natalie. “And one way to do that was to join a local gym.”
While at the gym one day, she heard music blasting through the speakers that reminded her of a holiday she had spent with her family. The music, which was very upbeat and exciting, piqued her curiosity and she learned that it was coming from a Zumba® class.
She plucked up the courage to attend her first class, never imagining the significant impact it would have on her life. Natalie was instantly attracted to the positive atmosphere in the room, where nobody was cruel or judgmental.
“The energy was electric,” says Natalie. “I got completely lost in the music and felt like all my problems had drifted away.”
She finds that taking part in Zumba classes allows her the opportunity to escape from the real world for an hour each day.
“The Zumba program has given me the confidence to get through my battles and has made me strong enough to beat my demons,” says Natalie. “I feel a duty to spread the Zumba word and help others who may be going through the struggles I once faced.”
After all, she says, a Zumba class is cheaper than therapy!
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