By Kelsie Hoitomt
GLENWOOD CITY – Awbria Simmons recently moved to Glenwood City after embarking on a whirlwind of adventures that all came about after she became a Zumba instructor.
Awbria’s journey to stardom started in 2007 when she took her first Zumba class while living in Japan where her husband Nathan was stationed for the Air Force.
Prior to moving overseas, Awbria dreamed of being an anchor woman. She was in Delaware when she was offered the job as a Comcast sports anchor, however it was right after that when the family was deployed to Japan.
Awbria took Zumba classes for one whole year, solely as a student. She fell in love with the class and the confidence it gave her so she tossed around the idea of getting her certification for teaching the class.
It was when Awbria and Nathan moved their family back to the states in 2009 that she received her license to be an instructor.
They were living in Farmington, Minnesota when Awbria made a call to a small studio because she was interested in taking a Zumba class.
“At the end of the conversation the owner said her Zumba instructor was leaving and she would love to meet me and see if I could teach there,” said Awbria.
Awbria was a bit hesitant to start so soon, but she dove right in and began teaching her first Zumba class. The crowd was around three people to start, but as word spread the small studio filled to a steady 12.
Zumba had been a “thing” since 1998 and was popular on the coastal cities, but it wasn’t until around 2008-2009 when it really took off in the midwest.
And because of that, Awbria being an instructor was quite the unique phenomenon. Her class in the small studio gained attention as word spread even further to news stations around the Cities.
As the attention over the class grew, Awbria was approached by the Lakeville, Mn Lifetime Fitness. She was offered a job and she soon became the first Zumba fitness instructor at a Lifetime Fitness in Minnesota.
The class at the fitness center grew from around 40 people to eventually over 100 people.
Her Sunday night classes reached the highest number in that particular fitness center’s history with a staggering 300 plus people attending every Sunday for three years.
That was made possible after Lifetime opened up their gym inside the fitness center after people complained to management because they were getting turned away from the class.
Over time, individuals who took Awbria’s class then in turn became instructors. Eventually over 60 people became teachers at Lifetime Fitnesses across the state of Minnesota.
On the East and West coast, Zumba was starting to enter the clubs and at that same time, Awbria had the idea of moving her class into night clubs as well.
“I opened up a magazine one day and saw that Zumba was in the night clubs in California so I knew it was going to become popular real quick,” said Awbria.
It was then that Awbria decided to start her own company, Minnesota Fitness Party In the Club. This would become the first time Zumba would hit the night scene in the state.
Awbria approached several bar owners and told them her idea. A few were not amused by the idea of sweaty people dancing in their club, but Awbria pled her case and soon places like Aqua and Seven; a Sushi restaurant were booking her.
Awbria began teaching classes at various times at the fitness center during the week and then from 8-10:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights she was in the clubs. At one point in time, she had 14 Zumba classes in one week she instructed.
With four kids at home, the lifestyle became hectic and Awbria was spreading herself too thin. That is when she decided to “work smarter, not harder” so she stepped back from Zumba and her business and took some time off.
Zumba was off of the agenda until Awbria and Nathan decided they wanted to find a home in the country with some acreage.
That decision brought them to Glenwood City and it wasn’t long after they moved in that Awbria received a call from the Community Education Director.
Awbria thought it over and after having had a much needed break, she knew her passion for Zumba and gift of teaching it wouldn’t be at bay forever so she took up the offer.
Awbria now teaches classes through Community Education either in the high school or elementary gymnasium on Monday and Wednesday nights from 7:00-8:00 p.m.
These classes are open to the public and not just to those in Glenwood City, but the entire surrounding area.
Awbria encourages people to look her up on her “Awbria Simmons” Facebook page and that is where prices, dates, etc. can be found.