Then Sreshtha Tewari took up Zumba classes last January she never imagined that by November she would be teaching a class.
Tewari, who by day is a senior financial analyst at a financial institution, joined Kelly Stewart's Zumba classes in Couva with the goal of losing a few pounds. She didn't anticipate the fun she'd have doing it and recalled that she used to dash home from her Port of Spain office to Couva, in rush-hour traffic, just so she wouldn't miss a class.
Zumba is a dance fitness programme that was created by Colombian Alberto Beto Perez in the 1990s as a way of making exercise fun. With the catchy tagline "ditch the workout, join the party" Zumba involves dance and aerobics, hip hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, martial arts, squats and lunges.
"A week after I started Zumba, people started commenting about how much weight I lost; I was hooked.
"I loved that the classes were structured in a way that I could work within my own capacity and drink water as often as I needed it while I worked out – something that you can't do with aerobics. Of course I loved the fun aspect, too."
Last September Tewari went to Miami, Florida, USA, where she became a licensed trainer in Zumba, Zumbatomic (designed for children), Aqua Zumba and Zumba toning.
Zumbatomic, she said, is not yet in Trinidad but it is a great way to get children to exercise and learn at the same time.
"It teaches kids shapes, directions and the different musical beats."
Tewari sees Zumba as a tool to bring about happiness in the lives of people rather than a money-making one.
"I just love to see smiles on people's faces from doing one crazy Zumba move. If I've made someone happy then I would have done something to brighten their day."
All fun and "crazy moves" aside, Zumba has proven effective in achieving weight-loss goals. When combined with a balanced diet, a one-hour Zumba class could burn anywhere from 400 to 600 calories.
Since starting Zumba classes last year, Tewari lost 35 of the 163 pounds she once carried around. Zumba, she said, has also given her body a noticeable definition that she didn't get from working out at the gym.
Tewari, whose Zumba teaching debut was at her mentor Stewart's Atrawets studio, now hosts her own classes on Tuesdays and Saturdays at the Millennium Gym in Chaguanas. She still maintains her Zumba class at Stewart's studio on Wednesdays.
The married banker has also had the opportunity to merge her hobby with her 8-4 job and is known as her bank's Wellness Champion. Tewari has hosted warm-up sessions at the bank's sporting events and was recently involved in a Zumba charity event in which the bank raised funds for residents of Diego Martin affected by the August 11 flood.
With a background in classical Indian dance, where she trained under Veejhi Seeramlal, Tewari said Zumba is good stress reliever not just for her but for those in her class.For now, mainly women make up the members of her Zumba classes and range in age from 20 to 50 years old.
"They all work out at their own pace and don't have to fight to catch up with the others."
Tewari is encouraged by the growing number of Zumba instructors in Trinidad; such is the popularity of the workout. Worldwide, Zumba classes are held in over 110,000 locations across more than 126 countries.
"No two Zumba instructors are alike. Each instructor brings his/her personality to the class.
"I love when people come up to me after my class and say 'Your class really feels like a party'. The little joys of life."
The certified Aerobics and Fitness Association of America instructor has plans to take Zumbatomic to children living in orphanages across the country by year's end. She also wants to offer corporate discount Zumba plans and Kiddie Party packages to her growing membership.
"I always wanted to give back. Zumba allows me to do that in my own little way.
Tewari is on Facebook and can be found by searching 'Zumba Dance Fitness with Sreshtha'