Sarah wilsher

My name is Sarah.  I am a 50 year old mother of two wonderful teenagers (God give me strength) and I’m married to the ‘Gorgeous Gary Wilsher™’.

My Zumba journey started 4 years ago after meeting the dynamic duo of Hooper & Pullin  (Jo and Kerryanne) at a Christmas party for our sons’ football team.  On our first night out together, I remember them going into a full-on Salt ‘n’ Pepa ‘Push It’ routine on the dance floor!  I watched in a cocktail fuelled awe as they performed the whole song in perfect sync.   I was intrigued. Within minutes I had been told of the enormous benefits, not just healthy ones of being part of the local Zumba classes. Stories of the crazy antics they got up (Jo dressed up as an actual present at the Xmas Zumba class) and the lovely friends they had made along the way.  They insisted that I came along to the next class and despite the horrifying prospect of having to dance alongside other people with both of my left feet,  I caved in and went along to a class the following week.  The rest, as they say, is history.  

I have always been a Yoga and Pilates kind of girl and have never done any exercise where you interact with your fellow classmates!  The whoops and “ooh oohs” synonymous with Zumba were completely out of my comfort zone, and don’t get me started on making eye contact!!!  But now… well, I am loud and proud and just love getting a sweat on to some classic show tunes (Jazz hands at the ready!) and squeezing in the odd running man during the freestyle section with my best buddies.

The friends I have made in this community are life changers.  In the 4 years together we have celebrated weddings, births and birthdays.  Supported break ups and break downs and personally I have never once felt alone during some very challenging years.   We have shared so many laughs and our fair share of tears, but this sisterhood of strong women is so very precious to me.  It is no coincidence that ‘Salute’ has become such an iconic Wilsher tune!!

By profession I am a sourcing and Supply Chain specialist and have worked in the textile industry my entire working life in exciting countries all around the world.   I pride myself on the personal growth I have gained in this profession and the opportunities I have had to build, coach and mentor dozens of team members along the way.   However, after what feels like an annual bout of redundancies (3 in total) I am now taking stock of my life and making some exciting changes to branch out in a new direction.  In February I start my Diploma in Transformational Coaching and am aiming to start my own business within the next 6 months as an Employment Coach and hopefully a spot of 1-2-1 Life Coaching along the way!!  Watch this space! 

I’m a great believer in stepping out of a comfort zone and taking a chance on something new!  My whole adult life has evolved from taking seemingly unconventional chances and I wouldn’t change it for the world.  I moved out to Hong Kong in my 20’s after a friend of mine asked if I fancied joining her, which is where I met my husband!!   A year after, we both followed his dream and travelled around Australia together for 10 months in a VW Campervan; not an easy task when you are 6 foot 4” (him…not me…obviously!)  A truly amazing experience!

But the step into Zumba with its Mambo, Merengue  and Samba twist has been a particular favourite of mine and who knows, one day I may perform the correct steps in the right order at the right time.  It’s only been 4 years…you can’t rush these things ? xx

 (L-R, Joanne, Sarah, Kerryanne, Kerry, Joanne)

Paula Perrett

My name is Paula, I’m 42 and married with two gorgeous children. I work in customer service for Active in Bradley Stoke which I love, as health and fitness is a big part of my life.

I started coming to Jodie’s Zumba classes around 8 years ago in the old King Edmund’s school hall. I was already pretty active as a regular runner and attending many different classes such as circuits and spin. A couple of my mum friends wanted to try Zumba and convinced me to go along too. I was so nervous as it was unlike anything I’d done before and I’m a very self conscious person. We headed into the corner in the back row trying to hide as much as we could! I was so lost trying to follow the routines but as soon as we did “Apple bottom jeans” I was hooked! I knew I’d found the class for me.

Jodie’s energy and enthusiasm was infectious and I couldn’t wait for the next class. I gradually found the confidence to move a few rows closer to the stage and I’m now a front row regular where I can provide the entertainment for Jodie, Tracey and Selena when I go wrong!

After contracting a serious illness in 2018 I was unable to attend zumba for many months during treatment and missed it so much. I went to Zumba gold for a short while to get my strength up, then gradually went back to regular classes where I received so much Zumba love and a huge warm welcome back. I suffer from Fibromyalgia now which comes with its own challenges but every class is an amazing pick me up.

I love being part of the Go Zumba UK family and the giggles, support, friendship and confidence it has given me makes me very glad I was brave enough to go to that first class. Thankyou! xxxx

Ali Wiffil 

My name is Ali, I’m 51 years old and a single mum with 2 daughters. I live in a sleepy village called North Nibley, which is just outside of Wotton-Under-Edge.

I started working as a fitness and aerobics instructor in my twenties and then worked abroad for 7 years, dancing in family entertainment shows for big hotels, alongside teaching aerobics and aqua aerobics. I returned to England when I was thirty and retrained as a veterinary nurse, working in a vets practice for many years.

I always tried to keep myself fit, but in my mid forties my hormones started changing and the weight crept on. I found it very hard to lose the pounds I had put on the menopause symptoms made me feel rubbish and I lost a lot of confidence. One day, by chance, I saw an advert for Jodie’s classes. I had wanted to try Zumba for some time, but never found the right class or had the courage to go. I saw that she taught a class on a Friday morning at St Saviours in Coalpit Heath, which I could go to on a regular basis. I used to live around the corner from the hall and knew it well, so plucked up the courage to go. After the first class, I remember that my head was spinning from all the moves, I hadn’t danced for so many years! However, I felt a buzz that I used to feel when I danced and taught aerobics all those years ago. I absolutely loved it! Jodie and Selena were so friendly and encouraging, and soon I was going to 2 classes a week, where I also met Tracey, who always remembered my name.

From those first six months of going to Zumba, I managed to lose all the weight I had put on and I felt so much better in myself. My confidence grew and I decided I would like to go back to teaching, something I never thought I would do.

I am now a licensed Zumba instructor and teach a couple of classes near where I live. It’s lovely to be able to introduce Zumba to lots of new ladies, who seem to love it as much as me. I still attend Jodie’s classes, as I enjoy them so much and she is my inspiration. Jodie, Tracey and Selena have been really encouraging and helpful and have even asked me to teach a few of my routines at the Zumbathon in October. I am very excited and nervous about this, but am looking forward to seeing lots of you there. Zumba is now a huge part of my life, I have made some lovely friends and am very glad I walked into St Saviours hall that Friday morning,  16 months ago!

Georgia Fareham

My name is Georgia, I am 24 years old and a single mum of one. I started Zumba in the spring of 2017 after my friend had recommended Jodie’s class to help me get active again after having my little boy in November. I was hooked from the first class! It was lively, fun and everyone was friendly. Even though I was useless at the dancing, I definitely left sweating! I now attend one class a week or more when I can.

Since becoming a single mum I have found out that my son has Marfan Syndrome. Marfan’s is a disorder of the connective tissue which effects the heart, skeleton, eyes and joints. It can be fatal if left undiagnosed. With that said, it has been a tough year.

I could be having a very stressful day, but as soon as I step into Jodie’s class, all is forgotten! I use the class not only for fitness but also for ‘me’ time. Zumba has helped to give me back my confidence – enabling me to make new friendships and have fun at the same time! With the help of Zumba I have returned to my pre-baby weight. Although the classes are so fun that I forget I’m even exercising!

The thing I really like is that the Zumba spirit doesn’t end after the class! The events and days out give me more to look forward to. Parties and picnics, what more could you want!

Thank you for reading! Love Georgia


EVERYONE knows Jeanette (and her side-kick/partner in crime, Anthê).  We’re even in the photo advertising the classes – see…..

Lots of people go to Zumba to lose weight but we go for the 3 F’s (no rude comments, please).  The first F is FITNESS.  We’ve been going to Jodie’s classes for about three and a half year – in that time Jeanette has had two stents fitted around her heart and Anthê has managed to dislocate her shoulder badly (catching Pokemon, but that’s a whole different story).  Jeanette often feels like she’s the oldest at the class and Anthê often believes she’s the fattest in the class.  But we are FITTER than if we didn’t go to Zumba.  FITTER than if we didn’t bop about several times a week. Much fitter than we were before we went to Zumba.  

The second F is FUN.  My goodness, we have a lot of FUN.  We laugh at ourselves when we get it wrong.  That dance where the two sides split up and one half follows Jodie and the other half follows Tracey – OMG – Jeanette and Anthê go on different sides and NEVER get any of it right – but we laugh like the clappers.  We sing at the tops of our voices – often in made-up words cos we can’t speak Spanish but there are the old classics like “boogie, boogie, boogie”, “marry that girrrrrrrl”, “Puerto Rico (in a very sexy voice)”, “if you can’t find a partner, use a WOODEN CHAIR” and “WHO shot WHO?”  Oh and that one from The Greatest Showman – lots of woooh’s in that one.  And we WOOP and WOOP and WOOP some more.  Jeanette likes to WOOP in the wrong places – just to wake people up, of course – and Anthê prides herself on having the loudest WOOP.  And we laugh and we giggle and we laugh some more.  Oh, Zumba is such fun.

Jeanette and Anthê went to a couple of the Eat Clean fairs – we joined in with the open-air dancers at Yate.  We joined in with a charity event – Zumba with a difference – in the dark with glow sticks and fluorescent clothing.  90 minutes of fun to raise money for Paul’s Place.  Selena gave us glow-makeup and Anthê borrowed some Fire Warden vests from work.  Don’t ask why Fire Warden Vests – it was the only fluorescent clothing we had. There were loads of people there wearing silly clothing and lights – lights all over the wheelchair users’ chairs. It was fabulous FUN.

The third F is FRIENDSHIP.  Jeanette and Anthê have been friends for nearly 30 years but the ten minutes in the car going to and from Zumba has really pushed our friendship to new levels.  We hear each other’s woes and celebrate each other’s successes.   And then, when we get to Zumba there are all the other people.  There’s Denise who has lost a massive 6 stone – wow, we can all celebrate that success.  There’s Lynda and Wendy – our special friends – Facebook and beyond! There’s two tall girls – Claire (she of the “big brown eyes” – yes, more singing) and Heather.  There’s the Scottish lady, down at the front.  We can’t forget Nel – she invited us to listen to her daughter singing – what a glorious soprano she has.  There is that wonderful dancer, Aneta, who brings her daughter – the two little girls, hers and Jodie’s – they are definitely going to grow up into beautiful women who smile and dance just like their mothers.  What about those two young women getting ready for one of their wedding? Oh but we still see Kim and Dawn who always stand behind us.  What about Sue and Margaret – they stand to the left of us.  We could go on and on – the people we’ve met, the people we’ve commiserated with and the people we’ve celebrated with.  

Of course, there are also the instructors who we feel are friends too.  Selena with the knock-out smile which lights up the stage when she’s up there.  Nia, who knows EVERY dance inside out!! When anyone on the stage can’t remember something they always look down to Nia’s corner cos she’ll remind them.  Tracey (with an e) – who sings at the top of her voice – it’s so wonderful to see her enjoying the whole package of the music and movement.  And, have you seen her glorious photographs?  A very talented photographer, that’s for sure.  And lastly, but certainly not least, our super instructor and choreographer – Jodie.  Jodie who’s makeup is always perfect, whose smile is beaming, whose dances make us think and whose enthusiasm for Zumba is boundless.  

Yes, we go to Zumba for the three F’s – because the three F’s add up to the most important H word – it makes us HAPPY.

Denise Hickson

My name is Denise Hickson and I am 53 years old. I live with my lovely husband Andy and my two adorable dogs, George and Charlie. I guess my story is similar to others in that I have struggled with my weight for my entire life. I’ve tried every diet going and my weight has fluctuated a lot!!! I have a history of PCOS, allergy problems and unexplained anaemia, but it wasn’t until I moved to Frampton Cotterell that my new doctor told me she was concerned that my symptoms might be associated with Coeliac Disease. It took a year to get diagnosed and my consultant feels that I have probably suffered from this my whole life! I had to adapt to a gluten free diet and I can physically feel that my body likes it – I don’t miss that bloated feeling for sure!

Last year I suffered from Pleurisy when my auto immune system attacked the lining of my lungs which was very scary.  Having lost some weight from being so poorly I wanted to continue with my healthy eating but felt that I needed to get some exercise to boost my weight loss. How incredibly lucky was I to give Jodie’s Zumba class a go!  From the moment I started last Summer, I was made to feel so welcome and absolutely loved the class.  We are so lucky to have such amazing choreography and fantastic instructors.  I have received so much support from Jodie, Tracey, Nia and Selena over the last 9 months; encouraging me and giving me advice.  Not only that, I have met the most incredibly ladies at class who have also become my friends.  I come along at least two times a week and ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT.  

I have gone from a size 22/24 to a size 12 and am nearly at my target weight now – yippee.  I guess that now the hard work begins as I start to try to maintain my weight, but … I reckon if I keep coming to class I will be fine.  At my heaviest I would avoid shopping for clothes and would be inwardly extremely critical of myself.  I think attending the classes and losing some weight has had such a huge impact on my mental wellbeing, my enjoyment of life, my ability to walk down the street without worry about being laughed at and, most importantly, made me so much more confident in myself.  On my summer holiday this year I won’t be checking out the pool to find the nearest bed by the steps and getting up at the crack of dawn to secure that bed; instead I will be confident and happy to sit wherever I like – what a relief!   We are thinking of renewing our vows just so that I can wear that beautiful dress that I have bought off the shelf, rather than the dress that I had to have hand-made using the only pattern I could get in my size!   I’ve started running a dance club at school for the children which is so much fun.  My choreography isn’t up to Jodie’s standards of course, but I enjoy giving it a go and it keeps me very busy on a Sunday afternoon!  I’ve started running, have a kayaking lesson booked for April and plan to go on holiday to Finland skiing, snowmobiling and dog sledging next Winter.  I would have never done any of this before. 

Zumba has not only enhanced my life; I’ve encouraged my mum to try out Zumba Gold.  She’s enjoying it lots and I can physically see a positive change in her also.

I would recommend Jodie’s Zumba classes to anyone, any age, any size, any weight.  You will be made so welcome and have such a great time; go on … give it a go and enjoy your new lease of life!

Nigel Drew

So why does a 63yr old bloke go to Zumba with a class that is nearly always all female? Well, sport bores me and I have always enjoyed music and dance. My wife definitely isn’t keen, but my daughters (25 & 29) also enjoy the classes when they have time to go, and encourage me with little phrases like “Dad, you are getting too fat” and “I am worried that you are going to die unless you do more exercise”; (My younger daughter Tamsin is a doctor and a great believer in vigorous exercise. Zoe worked in Russia and married a Russian there).  So you see we are a cheerful family and always looking on the bright side!

Life was not so sedentary at the start of my career in the electricity industry as I had to carry heavy instruments and gas cylinders hundreds of feet up flue-stacks, but over 30 years testing and developing chemical instruments work became more of sitting at a PC, especially when it was just data analysis from the nuclear stations. Hence, at about 40 I took up high-energy aerobics. 

I come from a sleepy town in Wiltshire, so I was 18 before I discovered the joy of Rock music. Fortunately, i was already into building BIG amplifiers and speakers, ideal for Santana, Pink Floyd, Guns ‘n’ Roses etc. (Camel-best ever!) Dance to loud music…you bet! Lucky I’m not shy, I know the ladies think I am eccentric! I like this class because it IS vigorous, I especially enjoy the special events, loved the 2 hour ones at the night club. I think Jodie had just started classes when I discovered Zumba, I tried a different class but I like our class best, the dances are not just designed for fitness, but complex and not repetitive, more fun. In my late 50’s I had a short period of depression, that is when I started Zumba because Tamsin said exercise and social events were the key to overcoming it, and it worked.

Anyway, The dances are great, the music fun, can’t wait ’til next Zumbathon. Having to come more often now as weight approaching that of a small planet, or give up the beer and thats not going to happen.

Jo Pullin

My name is Jo Pullin, aged 42 with two children.  I have always been big and can remember at the age of about 10, trying on my mum’s size 14 clothes to see if they fit…they didn’t. After Sam was born I was at my heaviest at 16st 8lbs. When Sam was 2 I made a decision that I didn’t want to be “the fat mum” hiding behind my children in photos so that no-one could see how big I was.

In February 2008 I joined Slimming world, but was to embarrassed to go to any fitness classes. In the 1st year I lost 3 stone and gained some confidence but knew I still needed to loose more weight and get fit. I tried every type of class, aerobics, swimming, the gym, boxercise but didn’t enjoy them enough and so never stuck to any of them. Then in 2008/2009 I found Zumba, it started with 1 class a week but I soon became addicted to the music, the dancing and the people.

I increased my classes to 2 or 3 a week and lost a further 2st 7lbs, my goal at last 11st 7, I can’t ever remember being slim and even now still doubt myself when buying clothes and end up taking bigger sizes into the changing room, only having to ask staff for the smaller size, I just can’t seem to get it in my head, but finally I am a comfortable size 12 (mostly) I gain half a stone here and there but still go to slimming world and my get my weekly fix of Zumba which helps me stay on track. As soon as I had done my first Zumba class, I wanted to do it all over again and sometimes did a double class in one evening so 2 hours of Zumba.

I live for my weekly fixes of Zumba and I can now wiggle with the rest of them (although some bits tend to wiggle for longer than they probably should) but I am enjoying myself, zumba cheers me up if I have had a bad day, motivates me and I have met a crazy bunch of people who love to dance like I do and it’s lush.

Please, if you are thinking of joining a class where you can dance like you just don’t care and meet and socialise with like minded people then Jodie and the crew are where you need to be, be warned though one hit a week will never be enough and with 7 classes a week to choose from, what’s stopping you?

Joanne Faulkner

Hi, I’m Joanne Faulkner from Yate, 31 years old, married for 9 years with 2 children aged 7 & 5. I am an organiser of Chipping Sodbury’s, Mind Body Spirit Show, which run’s twice a year in the town hall. I started Jodie’s classes around 2 ½ years ago in order to loose a bit of weight to be a bridesmaid at my sisters wedding. Since then I have lost around 2 stone.

In my teens I suffered with an over-active thyroid, when diagnosed I had treatment which then subsequently turned to “under-active” and now take medication (Thyroxine) daily for this. I have been recently inspired by Tracy & Jodie’s “Paleo” diet & have adopted a few aspects of this cleaner eating regime. I feel this has really helped to keep my weight under control & symptoms in check.

I used to attend Egyptian / belly dance classes for 4 years, but eventually found it a bit repetitive, and was searching for a new dance/fitness class for long time to fill that gap. Finally I found Zumba!!! I really love everything about Zumba, the music variety, the moves & the high energy routines. Reggaeton being my favourite. My fitness level has really improved & the classes feel as good as a night out partying – which are few and far between these days!

I find I can really go for it, get lost in the music and not worry what I look like. I aim to attend 3 classes a week.  When people ask me what zumba is like I always say just go at your own pace, some days you will naturally have more energy than others. It really doesn’t matter – there are no prizes for being the most energetic!

It’s taken me a long time to realise that exercise should be part of my weekly lifestyle, NOT something to do for a few months to loose a few pounds. It’s also a positive attitude for my children to adopt as well.

Alison Robbins

I am 41 years old  and have always struggled with my weight. I have  yo-yo dieted/comfort eaten since I was 16 years old and  gone from a size 10 to a size 28 and then back again. I have never felt comfortable with the  way I looked and hated having my photo taken or looking in the mirror. As I piled on the weight I became even more depressed and started eating even more and  I spent years caught in this vicious cycle. I needed to reach an all time low in order to force me to do something about my weight and eating habits once and for all.

This happened when I discovered how unfit I really was during December 2012. One morning the lifts in my office building  broke and I was forced to climb the stairs to my office on the fourth  floor. I had to send my friend on ahead of me because I was so out of breath after climbing only 2 flights of stairs which was very embarrassing because she is 25 years older than me. I decided that in the New Year I would again join my local Weight Watchers class and get fit.

I attended my first Weight Watchers meeting on 05/01/13 and weighed in at 24 stone 9lbs and wore a size 30 clothes.  I found the pro points plan easy to follow and over the following months I started to grow in confidence as I continued loosing weight and noticed how my health/fitness was improving.

During September I  started  attending  my local zumba class twice a week. Initially it was a challenge learning the routines but I didn’t feel uncomfortable if I turned the wrong way or did the wrong step (unlike previous exercise classes I had attended).  I really enjoy  going to Jodie’s classes because they are so interactive and everyone is there to get fit but most importantly of all to have fun!  There are people of all ages, sizes and fitness levels and everyone is so friendly. I have noticed that my fitness, co-ordination and balance have greatly improved since starting zumba and it has given me the courage to join my local Active gym. I like the variety of routines and the music used in the classes and would recommend them to anyone who enjoys dance based exercise.

On 01/02/14, I achieved my goal weight and became a Weight Watchers Gold member. I now weigh 11 stone 9lbs and my bmi has reduced from a frightening 52.9 to a more healthy 24.7. I have lost exactly 13 stone in just over 13 months and  I feel a lot better about myself. It’s great to be able to wear more fashionable/pretty clothes in a size 12. I am also loving my more active life style and I am determined that this time I am going to keep the weight off once and for all!

My top tips for loosing weight would be:

  • To set yourself  small goals ( to loose your first 7lbs then your first stone).
  • Keep a jar into which you can place a  £1 coin each time you loose a pound in weight. You can then use the money to treat yourself to a reward such as a manicure, a spa day or that special dress.
  • If you have a bad day, don’t beat yourself up about it, just start afresh the next day.
  • Join a weight loose group and go to regular weekly meetings because the advice and support which you receive from your fellow members and the leader is invaluable.
  • Get yourself to a Zumba class 🙂

Nia Wills

I am Nia Wills, 37 years old, married with two girls. I have worked at Eastwood Park women’s prison for the past 16 years.  I stumbled across Zumba purely by accident at a girly weekend at Center Parcs and couldn’t wait to find a class once I got home.  I have been attending Jodie’s classes for just under 2 years, starting off with one or two a week, now I attend whichever classes I can.

Since starting Zumba I have gained a massive amount of confidence and really feel that the classes have had a positive effect on me, so much so that I trained to be an Instructor six months ago so that I could teach classes at work.  The women at the prison have had a fantastic reaction towards my classes and appear to really enjoy taking part. In fact, I am always being asked when my next class is going to be held.

Having spoken to the women who attend my classes they have said that they find them less daunting as the feel comfortable with me, also my classes are less formal than the programmes that are provided by the P.E department.  I hope that by teaching classes it may encourage the women to make more positive and healthy choices upon their release.

Attending Jodie’s classes have really helped to build my confidence for Instructing and I have felt really encouraged by the support offered by everyone. Since starting Zumba I have lost 3 stone in weight, the first stone solely by doing classes and the other two by following the Weight Watchers programme and increasing the number of classes that I attend. Obviously taking part in the charity calendar was a huge incentive for me.

When people ask me about Zumba classes, I always advise them to come and give it a go. More often than not at work I start off with a few spectators at the start of class but most join in after a song or two. Zumba is about having fun and getting fitter not about how coordinated you are or how good you are at dancing.

Claire Chandler

I have been coming to Zumba now for just over a year after being introduced to it by Carol my partners mum. I started off doing 1 -2 classes a week and now can’t get enough. I attend 4 a week double Monday session then Tuesday and Wednesdays class.

I don’t think I could pick just one thing that is best about Zumba, there is so many!  It’s a fun workout that you can do at your own intensity level and you burn soooo many calories just having fun. You can dance like no one is watching and loose all inhibitions. I used to go to the gym but would always come up with excuses not to go as it was mundane boring and like a chore.  Zumba is the complete opposite I can’t wait to rush from work and get to class to shake my booty!

Zumba isn’t just a workout it’s a party everyone is so friendly and welcoming even if you don’t know everyone’s name we all smile and say hello.  It’s also a proven fact that it helps de-stress you and you will come out of class lifted and happy it certainly does for me after a busy day at work.

Before I started Zumba i did struggle with weight and confidence and now not only have i lost nearly 2stone in weight but i have gained a lot more self confidence and can say zumba has changed my life for the better. Jodie, Tracy and Selena are fantastic and are probably some of the most caring and friendliest people I know.  The commitment they put in for us is amazing and is testament to how packed the classes are and close our little zumba family is.

After starting zumba classes in June last year I discovered I loved it sooo much that i wanted to try and see if i could qualify as a instructor.  I used to be  a cheerleader many years ago for about 6 years so as a personal goal wanted to see if  I could do the intense instructor training and boost my confidence.  I also thought that this could be a potential career in years to come when I am settled with kids etc.

The training course was a day long session full on from 8am until 5pm with non-stop zumba learning all the basic moves how to choreograph a routine and also gave us helpful business pointers about how to set-up your own classes. I learnt so much and it was really interesting.  Our instructor Naomi was amazing and she really did push us so hard and was so encouraging and passionate.  It was a exhausting day but I enjoyed every second of it and came away proud as punch with my instructor certificate and a boosted confidence.

The thought of doing a naked calendar had never once crossed my mind.  I’d never been asked to do one but if someone had asked me I would of said no without hesitation.  I did however think that anyone doing one was very brave.  The thought of me getting my body out for all to see would terrify me and didn’t have the confidence to do something like that…….. This was of course before I found Zumba 🙂

When the naked calendar opportunity came up I’d already lost nearly 2 stone in weight thanks to zumba and gained a lot more confidence as a person and with how my body looked.  Before I knew it I was stood there in my robe excited to start our photo shoot.

Strangely, when we got there I wasn’t nervous at all just excited to see how the shoot was going to go.  Our theme was 50 shades of Grey and we had many props and ideas of poses to try.  I felt totally at ease getting naked and confident about how my body looked.  We had Selena supporting us behind the scenes then Jodie and Tracy doing the actual shoot.  It was so professional and such a relaxed and fun atmosphere.  It was so nice to see women of all ages shapes and sizes supporting each other and having fun and feeling comfortable around each other, our zumba crew really are special.

To put the experience in words I’m not sure what would really justify it but that would come close are fun, liberating confidence boosting, free and inspired. The fact that this was all for such amazing charities makes it all the more worthwhile.  It’s so nice that we can just a do a little something to support our local charities and help to change lives.  It truly is humbling, if i could do it again for more charities then I would.

I can safely say I know what all my family and friends will be getting for Christmas!  xx

Christine Pinker

My name is Christine I am 67 years old I have been married to Patrick 50years in September. I have 4 children, 2 boys and 2 girls all in their 40’s, 10 granchildren and 2 great grandchildren.

I opened my own saddlery shop in 1980. I sold secondhand clothing as my children had a interest in horse riding and pony club etc. Over the years it has grown into a very successful business now being run by management. In 1993 my life took a different direction two days a week I became a volunteer at headway house based at Frenchay hospital working with the heád injured which I really enjoyed for 10 years. The attenders taught me to do many skills how to listen to people who can’t even Speak And to enjoy life.

I have always enjoyed some form of exercise although being a person who has a form of dyslexia I usually choose running or the gym. I was introduced to Zumba two years ago which was quite a challenge for me having to know my left from my right. I soon overcame this fear of people watching me and making the wrong moves. Now I feel I have found the perfect  way to exercise.

I love the music and dancing, the hour goes so quickly. It is amazing how you can walk into the hall and immediately your spirit is lifted with people who greet you and are  so friendly. I would encourage ladies (and we are short of gentlemen) who are looking for exercise, music, dance and laughter to join us. We are fortunate to have a wonderful instructor, Jodie and her talented helpers Tracey and Selena.

We have social events every two or three months where we get together, have a chat maybe even a meal and dance. Those ladies like me whose partners don’t dance or are on there own will feel included and safe. I would like to thank Jodie Tracey and Selina for making all this possible and raising lots of money for different charity’s.

To sum this up I never went dancing or socialised in my teens as I was married at 17 years of age, had 4 children and a business to run. Now as a 67 year old, young at heart lady I feel it is now my time to do this,. You are never to old and it is never to late.

I try to do Zumba three times a week  -it is now part of my life. It keeps me fit, It has certainly toned my figure and keeps my joints supple.T hey say everything is for a season and I feel this is my season for laughter, making new friends and doing things that give me joy.

Amanda Mills

I’m 26 years old and I’ve been a firefighter in Bristol for 4 years. I also train as an amateur bodybuilder and am a recovering food-aholic! At my heaviest I weighed about 14 stone. It’s hard to tell because I refused to weigh myself and never went clothes shopping, living only in baggy t-shirts and jogging bottoms. I was bullied at school for years for being overweight and as I got older it didn’t get any better. One day I woke up and said ENOUGH! I’m sick of always being the biggest person in the room. Then I realised my dream of becoming a firefighter. The people who laughed and said I couldn’t do it only spurred me on more! I started by joining the gym and when I joined the fire brigade I stepped up my training to a new level. Now I train with heavy weights at a bodybuilding gym and do 4 cardio sessions a week. Zumba is my favourite form of cardio, i aim to do 2 or 3 sessions a week and I manage to burn around 600 calories on average, I never knew cardio could be so fun as I hate the treadmill!

There is no such thing as too much weight to lose, although it may feel like it sometimes. Trust me, I know! No matter how un-fit you are or how low your self esteem is you can absolutely be who you want to be. 4 years ago I barely said a word to anyone. I never went anywhere alone and I couldn’t wear the clothes i wanted. Now it’s getting me to shut up that’s the trick! And I couldn’t care less about what people think. Everyone has days when they don’t want to get out of bed because you feel too fat or too ugly but those are the days when you must be strong and try harder- I say to myself, ‘I may not be there yet but I’m closer than I was yesterday’.

My all-time hero and inspiration Arnold Schwarzenegger once said:

‘Strength does not come from winning, your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender- that is strength’

And if i can do it, anyone can!!

Maxine Hillier 

I started zumba a week after jodie started up the classes. After my mate sally saw an advert in the local observer. I like Zumba because it feels more like a social event than exercise. I’ve made a lot of friends over the last few years which encourages me to keep going each week.

I would say to anyone who wants to try zumba give it a go. As jodie is very friendly and welcoming as are all the ladies and Nigel.

Sam Hinde and Helena Steel

Helena: I’m 30, live in WUE with my boyfriend if 4.5 years and our dog Digger, our cat Charlie. I’m an accountant and work for EE… Love the countryside, cider and walking the dog… Or walking the dog, with a cider in the country. Been Zumbaing for about 18 months after Sam invited me at work one day…

How did we think of the Zumbacathlon? It was all Sam’s idea – I can’t take any credit, we thought it would be a great way to raise more money. People have been so generous, more than I ever thought. We also pestered all our work colleagues and promised them photos and tutus if we raised more than £500 – they responded well to that!

There was some special preparation. Digger got a lot of walks and we stepped up the Zumba classes in the weeks before hand doing a few doubles etc. I really enjoyed the week – Tuesday night , 3rd class was a real toughy, and when I became ill on Thursday night it made everything so much harder (and sweatier – a fever will do that!).

Sam: I’m 32, live in Yate, been doing Zumba with Jodie for over 2 years now, three cats no children, work with H as an accountant for EE, enjoy cooking/baking, wine, camping & Zumba (obviously)

Ignore Helena’s comment – I just instigated the idea of the Zumbacathlon. It wasn’t all me! We’d worked out that nobody at work would sponsor us to do 2.5hrs of Zumba as they know how much we enjoy it and that it was such a fantastic cause we would have to do something big! It was Tina doing the 9 class challenge that week that sparked the idea. I suggested to Helena that maybe we should do the 7 evening classes plus the Zumbathon then we’d be more likely to get sponsorship – it sort of escalated from there to “nah let’s get the mornings off work and to the whole lot” … Scary concept but after we started telling people we just couldn’t go back!

We raised money by setting up a Justgiving page and sending a link to all our friends & colleagues via Facebook, on the intranet at work and via e-mail, before going round the last few people with sponsorship forms. We managed to raise £885 in collections from friends, family and colleagues – and our company will top up any money raised for charity by 25% which will give us a grand total of £1106.25 – which we are amazed by as a total! In the beginning we thought we’d raise about £200 which is why we said we’d wear tutus and tiaras all week if we reached £500 as we never anticipated to get anywhere close!

After communicating our challenge to the masses we started upping our zumba sessions on the run up to the event – however on the week before the Zumbacathlon both myself & Helena fell ill so were unable to train – all we could think was at least it wasn’t the Zumbacathlon week as there would be no way we would be able to complete it feeling that bad!

It was so much fun and all of the ladies in all of the classes were so supportive – checking to see how we were doing and generally keeping us going. The hardest day was Wednesday – having done 5 classes in 2 days I woke up absolutely exhausted – just physically drained – which led to me eating like an absolute piggy and I only started to get energy back into me after a bottle of lucozade and a Mars bar … those two evening classes were sugar rush driven! From Thursday onwards Helena wasn’t feeling poorly bunny again so the aim was to keep strong and wooping to keep her going Thursday night and Friday morning.

Sunday’s Zumbathon was great because it was so varied – old, new, different instructor – but at 12 I think both my arms and legs didn’t want to play anymore – 30 mins to go … and we did! An amazing experience and very proud of the amount of money we managed to raise for such a brilliant cause.

Tina Mayor

Hi! My name is Tina and I live in Yate. Oh how I love Zumba! I know I’m meant to start off with a bit about me but these classes are really good. They take me back to when I used to go to discos in Bristol with my best friend. Five nights out of seven we would be there, dancing all night. Of course, I don’t think I could manage that now, the Tuesday and Friday morning classes are just right – hey – I’m 35 years older than my disco days!

My love of dance has always been with me, I’ve done some choreography for my drama group, The Court Players, and Zumba comes in handy for that, to keep my stamina levels up for the shows that I’m in.

The friends I’ve made at Zumba are special and the camaraderie is uplifting. They are my “Zumba Chums” as my husband puts it! Jodie gets me up on stage now and then, so I really try to keep up with her and throw in a move or two of my own, just for good measure.

I don’t think I’ve lost any weight, because I’ve upped my wine consumption to offset the calorie loss at classes! But d’you know what? ZUMBA MAKES ME HAPPY! And that’s the bottom line…

Carol Blackwell (Pictured right)

Well my name is Carol I am 54. I grew up in Bishoptson and moved to Yate when I got married, I have been married to Les for 33 years this year. I have two sons Paul who will be 30 in November and Lee who will be 28 in May. Paul’s girlfriend is the lovely Claire who I introduced to Zumba, she loved it so much that some of you will know is now also a qualified Zumba instructor.

My first Zumba class was during November in the Community Centre on Station Road. A friend had told me about the classes, and as it was just outside my front door, I thought I would give it a go. I had an idea of what the class might be like as I had purchased the Zumba DVD’s and toning sticks, and although the DVDs were good I soon lost interest at doing them at home. I remember that I stood at the back on my first and second lesson but soon found my nerve and stood in the front row, so I could get a better view of Jodie has there was no stage in those days!!!!

Where do I begin, when explaining why I like the classes? Well firstly Jodie makes the class fun and puts everyone at ease. It doesn’t matter what shape size or ability, anyone can do the class, and the music and routines are great. Everyone is friendly its more like a social club then a fitness class.

Since going to Zumba along with a change of lifestyle to more health eating, I have dropped a dress size from 12 to 10 and lost 1 stone in weight. As long as I haven’t been on holiday, I have been to all the social and charity events and wouldn’t miss them for the world. They are so much fun, its nice to get to chat to new people who’s faces you know but do know a lot about them.

Sharron Baber (Pictured left)

Hello my name is Sharron Baber i was born in Chipping Sodbury 57 years ago and have lived in Yate for most of my life.I have been married to Alan 30 years this September, we have lovely son Paul and his Dublin born wife Dee,we also have two beautiful grandaughters Ella 5 and Sophia 5 months,we are very blessed.

My very closest friend Carol had started zumba just before christmas and was telling me how fab it was and I should try it too,work was keeping me very occupied so I went along to my first class in january. From the very first class I was hooked, Jodie was a very bright and enthusiastic instructor I think we realised we had someone special teaching us. I love music and dance but never really managed to look very cool on the floor, Jodie has a way of showing you how to move and have a lot of fun,I think that is what has kept me motivated to keep coming back.

Jodie’s classes feel more like a party with all your best buddies ! we have met a lot of lovely people at zumba and we love meeting up and having some fun with lovely bubbly Jodie. If you want to try zumba just give it a go,we all think we have no rhythm or grace just two left feet,forget all that and follow Jodie she helps you to (feel the music) its magic ,by lesson three you have found your inner diva ! the bonus is you will feel fitter ,happier and look better than you have in years.

Rosemary Cook

Back in February 2011, whilst at my slimming class two of my friends and I spotted a notice about a new Zumba class starting on a Monday evening at King Edmunds school. It said it was open to beginners so we decided to go along. Not sure what I was heading for, I went, stood at the back and tried to follow the moves as best I could.

After that first night I was hooked. I’m not sure if it was the music, the moves or the exhilaration of spending an hour dancing which didn’t really feel like exercise, but I am still attending regularly after nearly 2 years.

I enjoy the music as it is so varied and it’s great being able to ‘wiggle my bits’ without having to worry what everyone else is thinking because they are all doing it too!  I have made lots of new friends whilst being at Zumba as well as meeting up with some faces I hadn’t seen for a while.

I have lost 100lbs (7 stone 2 pounds) in weight by following the weight watchers plan and the Zumba has helped over the last 2 years with getting me fitter, which I notice when i’m out walking. I hadn’t really tried much exercise before Zumba, although I enjoy swimming and a few years ago did some line dancing. Nothing has grabbed me like Zumba has!!

I look forward to the sessions I go to after a busy day because I feel refreshed afterwards, even though we are all hot and sweaty.  I have been to all of the charity nights and social evenings as I think it’s a good time to get to know everyone, during a class isn’t long enough. I’m normally a fairly quiet person when out with people, but Zumba has given me confidence to whoop it up with the best of them!

I think the best way to lose weight is to find the best weight loss plan for you and don’t expect all the excess weight to fall off overnight. It is a long slow process and i’m still heading towards my goal.

I must thank Jodie for making the classes so enjoyable and welcoming xx