[This article is a part of our series Off the desk, where we feature unconventional jobs that go beyond the corporate]
Vijaya is making waves in the city with her Zumba classes, but this petite girl is also an Army colonel’s loving wife, a doting mother to twins, and one of the most inspiring women in the city. She is one of Hyderabad’s foremost Zumba fitness instructors, having performed at Hard Rock Cafe, GVK One, and at numerous events around the city and around India. Her Zumba classes are known to be fun and entertaining, and her students swear by her energy and her commitment, and her cheerful demeanour.
In an exclusive chat with OfficeChai, Vijaya talks about her rise from her humble beginnings in Ranchi and her transformation from a housewife to being synonymous with Zumba in the city.
What’s your educational background? Did you enjoy your studies as a kid?
I started my education quite late, because of the financial status of my family. Till Class 7 I went to schools that had no affiliation with any boards. In Class 8 I shifted to an ICSE school, but the transition was not easy. I ended up repeating Class 8. I used to be an average student until then, but later my interest towards my studies grew. I did really well in 10th and 12th. I then graduated with a B.Com (Hons) from Ranchi University.
How did you get into Zumba?
I was always interested in dance, and I was one of the most active people in the Salsa Socials that were a weekly affair at Cuba de Libre at GVK. Once, I’d hosted a Flash Mob in GVK One Mall in December 2011. My friend Jegatha Muralidharan, who’s also a Zumba instructor, joined me there. Together we choreographed a few tracks together that were simple and easy to follow. It was then that I learned about Zumba. Things moved quickly after that and I got my Zumba license in Feb 2012.
For those who don’t know, what exactly is Zumba?
Zumba is a dance fitness program created by Colombian dancer and choreographer Alberto Perez during the 1990s. It involves dance and aerobic elements. The choreography incorporates hip hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue and mambo. Squats and lunges are also included. It’s become a global phenomenon now, with approximately 15 million people taking weekly Zumba classes in more than 185 countries.
What’s an average day for you like?
Haha, there are hardly any average days. Each day brings something new. All 7 days are hectic, yet loads of fun. I do 3-4 sessions is a day. Then there’s housework, kids, and other stuff related to being a homemaker. I plan my schedule such that I’m home when the kids are around. I cook for them and take them out. When I’m traveling my mother-in-law takes care of them. I was a homemaker before I started my Zumba career, so I still take care of that bit. Luckily my husband, who’s an Army Colonel has been very supportive. He’s my backbone. He and my mother-in-law have played a major role in my career. It wouldn’t have been possible without them.
What are the challenges of being in this industry?
The challenge is not my competitors at all, though I do follow the ones in Hyderabad and outside as I believe in learning continuously. The real challenge is my students for whom I take the lessons. Then I constantly challenge myself, as I need to be smiling and full of energy at each session!
What have been your best moments as a Zumba instructor? Has it been financially rewarding?
There have been several, but the ones that have been the most memorable have been my classes at Google, and the Zumba Parties and Master classes I host, especially the ones at Hard Rock cafe, since it’s a huge platform for international artists. Yes, Zumba has been very financially rewarding. I earn more than my husband! (laughs)
What plans next? Where do you see yourself in a few years?