In the early months of 2010, Maryjo (MJ) Oster was facing one of the toughest challenges of her life: an awful separation from a toxic marriage to her high school sweetheart, who she discovered was having an affair with another woman. She found herself alone for the first time, in a state of depression, crying day in and day out and struggling to feel anything but sadness. Knowing that dancing is a proven way to release endorphins, a neighbor suggested that MJ accompany her to a Zumba® class. MJ agreed to go, figuring that it could not possibly make her feel any worse than she was already feeling.
“During my separation, I could barely function,” MJ recalls. “I honestly went to that first Zumba class because it was something that would get me out of the house.”
To her surprise, something miraculous happened halfway through the workout.
“I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and noticed I was smiling,” says MJ. “I hadn’t smiled in months! Somehow I had actually forgotten that I was sad.”
Fueled by her positive energy, MJ returned to class the following week and was pleased to feel happiness racing through her body. No matter what was happening in her life, Zumba® provided an outlet where, for one hour, she felt free. And outside of class, MJ found herself facing challenges with a more optimistic approach.
“Zumba fitness transformed my life,” says MJ. “It helped drag me out of a deep depression and ushered me into a new life.”
During one of her weekly classes, MJ experienced an “Aha!” moment. Realizing that Zumba® was literally one of the only things getting her through her divorce, she was inspired to become a licensed Zumba® Instructor.
“I admit that it sounds cheesy, but I truly believe in the power of the Zumba program,” says MJ.
She now teaches regularly, even hosting private Zumba events. One student recently revealed to MJ that she had chosen her Zumba class over happy hour with friends, stating “this is our happy hour!”
Regardless of what is happening outside of studio walls, MJ always asks her students to follow one very important rule: Smile! Because if you’re not having fun, what’s the point?!
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