Zumba! Everyone knows what it is, but apparently the term has no official meaning. This exercise dance craze has been sweeping the nation, but East Enders don’t have to travel far to take a class with world-renowned, certified, licensed and accredited Zumba and dance instructor Oscar Gonzalez.
Gonzalez is Costa Rican native who has been a national/international fitness instructor, professional dancer and choreographer for over 20 years. I took his Zumba class at the Wellness Institute in Hampton Bays. I have taken a few classes with other instructors before, but this… OH BOY!
It was like having fun in a nightclub, rather than killing myself in a fitness class. The typical florescent lights were replaced with pulsating colors and pumping music. Gonzalez encourages us to keep up the energy and fun by serenading and periodically dancing alongside each student. As someone who doesn’t regularly exercise, I did not feel intimidated as some other classess make you feel. It’s fun, it’s sexy, and it’s an incredible workout!
Gonzalez’ students lined up anxiously waiting to give me their insights into the class, all giving glowing reviews. “Oscar is the best! He’s fun, professional, and really knows his stuff!” “He’s not just an instructor, but a friend as well.” “[He is the] inspiration I need to stop procrastinating, and come exercise.” “Coming here is fun, and [alleviates] my stress.”
Not surprisingly, I soon found out that everyone knows and loves Oscar. His name is synonymous with “Zumba.”
Gonzalez came the U.S. 13 years ago not knowing a lick of English, but he found himself teaching fitness classes in a gym and continued to progress from there. “I knew that I knew English when I started dreaming in English.”
Denise Freda, Gonzalez’ manager, relates “His upbeat personality and incredible energy are infectious. He’s unique in what he does, and does it with all his heart. [It’s got to say something that] I drive out here twice a week from Westchester just [to train with him.]” Gonzalez says, “This is the time to [be free.] It doesn’t matter if you have talent, just have fun.”
Not only can this man dance like no other, but he has an effervescent charisma and talent and compassion to spare. Gonzalez has been a personal trainer for celebrities such as Christie Brinkley, and the Personal Trainer contributor for Time Out NY, Weight Watchers Magazine and Cosmo Radio on Sirius and the Cosmopolitan website. He was also a master instructor at a Self Magazine event in Central Park for 10,000 attendees and he has danced professionally and choreographed for major companies including Coca-Cola, Absolute Vodka and Miss Latina Hamptons.
Gonzalez works with several charities including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Joan’s Arc Legacy and Mercy First to promote their missions. He finds it especially rewarding to have worked with local high schools to choreograph their musicals. His talent has spread all the way to Europe, where he has toured in Austria, Hungary, Belgium and Italy. And, Gonzalez even designs and builds the structure and props for his annual haunted house, which he has operated at La Maison Blanche on Shelter Island for the last two years.
“My goal is to see smiles on everyone’s faces at the end of the class. I end every class the same way—by saying ‘Thank you. God bless you. You did it!’”
The buzz is all about the new class location for the summer. The Ocean Resort at Bath and Tennis in Westhampton Beach will host a Saturday class from 9:30 a.m.–10:30 a.m. Enjoy breathtaking views of the ocean in every direction during your workout, grab a bite on premise and then head straight down to the beach.
You can join Oscar’s Zumba parties at the Wellness Institute in Hampton Bays on Tuesdays from 7 p.m.–8 p.m., and at the Dance Centre of the Hamptons in Westhampton on Thursday from 9 a.m.–10 a.m. and 7 p.m.–8 p.m., as well as Saturdays from 9 a.m.–10 a.m.
Check out zumba-oscar.com for more info. And if you’re on the hunt for Zumba apparel, type in “OscarSave” to receive 10% off purchases.