The Charger Blog

International Student Life Adviser Shares Her Enthusiasm for Zumba

Dorothy Classen, an international student life adviser in the University’s Office of Graduate and International Student Life, loves teaching Zumba and sharing her passion for the dance-driven fitness program with her fellow Chargers.

February 6, 2024

By Anchal Bhatia ’24 MBA

Dorothy Classen (center, with phone) poses with chargers in front of a mirror wall.
Dorothy Classen (center, with phone) helps her fellow Chargers power on their fitness routine with Zumba.

Dorothy Classen, an international student life adviser in the University’s Office of Graduate and International Student Life (OGISL), is fun, dedicated, and one of the most valuable mentors at the Beckerman Recreation Center where she conducts weekly Zumba classes that combine fitness, laughter, and fun.

Classen has long been interested in dance and fitness, and she found Zumba nearly a decade ago. Classen was looking forward to her high school best friend’s wedding, and she wanted to find a new fitness routine. Since then, Classen’s journey with Zumba has never wavered. In 2017, Classen started her Zumba Basic 1 Training sessions and her interest in Zumba has only grown since.

“I am not only passionate about the dance moves in Zumba, but I have a strong understanding of the fitness benefits of actively taking Zumba classes,” she said. “As an instructor, I am very passionate about sharing these benefits with my participants.”

‘Increase my knowledge’

Looking back at her journey as a Zumba instructor, Classen first started doing Zumba in a gym based in Montville, CT, where her fellow participants eventually became her students, and led a group of three to 12 members in regular Zumba sessions. She instructed virtual classes during the pandemic, and she shares her passion through classes with ChargerREC.

“Teaching at ChargerREC is quite exciting, as my classes are always full!” she said. “The number of students or attendees has never been my focus, and I am happy to teach even one, two, three, or a group of 300 participants! However, I am amazed to teach a group of 15-20 students weekly, and the energy at the classes only tends to grow.”

Classen became a licensed Zumba instructor in 2017.

“After getting licensed as a professional Zumba trainer, I attended further training to increase my knowledge and execution of more rhythms,” she said. “I took a ProSkills training, also offered by Zumba, to improve my cueing and interaction with students to engage in a more effective class. Besides this, I have also been lucky to attend the Zumba convention three times, which takes place annually in Orlando, Florida, where more than 8,000 Zumba instructors from all over the world are present to share their expertise.”

Dorothy Classen (center, with pink sneakers) and students are charged up about Zumba.
Dorothy Classen (center, with pink sneakers) and students are charged up about Zumba.
‘Dance has no language or restrictions’

Classen’s love for fitness is not limited to just Zumba. She is also a certified trainer for MixxedFit and Commit Dance Fitness, both of which are programs that focus on using dance to exercise.

“Taking all this training from different fitness programs allows me to stay current, not only with songs and dance trends but also to ensure that I can teach safely and avoid injury for myself or the participants,” she said.

A flyer for a Zumba class at the University.
A flyer for a Zumba class at the University.

Being Latin inspired, Zumba is trained under songs from four essential cultural backgrounds: Cumbia, from Columbia; Merengue, from the Dominican Republic; Salsa, from Puerto Rico, Cuba, and New York; and Reggaeton, from Puerto Rico. Passionate about teaching, she says anyone, regardless of their experience with Zumba is welcome to take part in her class.

Classen then spoke about her Zumba classes at the University of New Haven’s Rec Center and expressed her passion for teaching and welcoming any student to her class.

“I teach so newcomers can pick up the steps and feel comfortable during their first class, whereas my regular students still have fun and constantly challenge themselves,” said Classen. “I have taught participants with disabilities, those in wheelchairs, and those who don’t speak English! Dance has no language or restrictions. We are judgement-free; my classes are not just a workout but a welcoming community and a space to forget about any troubles outside the gym!”

‘Zumba is fun’

Classen loves meeting new students every week in her classes and encourages students to combine fitness with fun! Her Zumba sessions are considered full with 20 students, and registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. She is excited to see how this semester unfolds.

“Registration is available to any student who has activated their ChargerREC membership, and the registration for classes is available two days in advance,” she said. “Students can register for Tuesday’s class as early as Sunday.” This spring semester, Classen is teaching classes every Tuesday and Wednesday at 5 p.m. All she requests for her registrants is to be on time, if they are unable to make it to the class, she asks that they un-register so someone else might be able to join.

As an instructor, Classen loves observing the energy her students bring forth. This semester, she’s looking forward to meeting more students who are willing to share a passion for Zumba, and she would love to help them find confidence and happiness.

“Zumba is fun, increases our energy, and delivers fun elements throughout the sessions,” said Classen.

Anchal Bhatia ’24 MBA is a candidate in the University’s MBA program.