Dancing is fun and a great workout, of course, but Cody Olafson recently took it to a new level of healing and empowerment. Cody, a Zumba® instructor from Alberta, Canada, has been open about her experience in an abusive relationship with her fellow instructors and students. Now, she has shown just how strong she is with her choreography and music video to a song called Confident. We sat down with Cody to hear her story.
Tell us about yourself and how you got involved with Zumba®.
I’m 26 years old and have been dancing since I was 3 years old. I had seen Zumba® on TV briefly, but my first interest came while I was watching my then-boyfriend play soccer and I met a girl in the stands, Lindsay, who invited me to her class. I had no idea what to expect from the class, but from then on I was hooked. The energy, the music, the smiling faces, I knew that this was a community I wanted to be a part of. The next month I signed up to become an instructor and the rest was history.
You’ve been very open about abuse you experienced in past relationships. Would you share a bit about your story?
I was in an abusive relationship for about four years. It started out as him being controlling in what I was doing, who I was talking to, etc. But, over the years it got worse and WORSE. It became mentally, verbally, and, in the end, physically abusive. He secluded me from friends and family and even dance. It’s hard to say but for a while I felt like I had no reason to live, like I wasn’t worthy, like I wasn’t beautiful or smart. It was very destructive, and I can honestly say Zumba® saved my life and gave me purpose. When I told him I wanted to teach and travel with Zumba® he told me to “keep dreaming” because he wouldn’t let me. That was part of my push to get out.
Your video to Keston’s song Confident is profound, moving, and inspiring – and your dance moves are amazing, too! How did you come up with the idea for the video?
Keston wrote this track for me and also came up with the idea of sharing my story in the video. It was definitely scary to think of at first; to show so much vulnerability and show my struggles in a visual way. But in the end it turned into a coping mechanism and if I can help even one person who may be going through something similar, I have done what I set out to do. We have received a lot of love since the video was released, and I feel so blessed.
What did your Zumba® students think about shooting the video with you?
The students and fellow Zumba® instructors who participated had a ton of fun and I was so grateful to have everyone there to support and dance with me. These people are my tribe and my family, and have given me so much love.
Before we go, tell us one fun thing about yourself that most people don’t know.
My secret passion is tap dancing. I am obsessed with creating rhythms and making noise with my feet. It’s my other form of therapy…. besides Zumba®, of course.