How Yulissa Arescurenaga Found Her Life’s Passion with Zumba

by Bridget Conrad | 11/29/2018 3:21 AM

Photo Credit: Yulissa Arescurenaga on Facebook

One of the best things about the Zumba fitness program is that its designed for any and everyone to be able to participate in its classes. Zumba aims to take the work out of working out by producing an environment that feels more like a dance party then a trip to the gym. During Yulissa Arescurenaga’s first Zumba class in 2008, she immediately fell in love with the program. As she continued to take classes though, she noticed that there was no one like her leading these classes. This is when she knew that her life’s purpose was to become the first certified Zumba instructor in the United States with Down syndrome.


To prepare for her Zumba certification, Arescurenaga spent years memorizing dance routines and practicing those routines for up to six hours a day. Finally, in March 2012, her hard work paid off and she became a certified Zumba instructor. Arescurenaga found a passion for dance when she was just a year old and won her first dance contest at 10-years-old, but it wasn’t until she started leading Zumba classes and connecting with other dancers that she really came out of her shell. 

Today, this 26-year-old instructor teaches classes in her home of San Francisco, and she was even invited by the Alaska Chapter of National Down Syndrome Congress to teach a few classes at the Service High School and The Alaska Club in Anchorage, Alaska. Arescurenaga is seen as a huge inspiration to those with Down syndrome, autism, and women in general. “I hope to inspire everyone that with hard work, determination, and pure joy and passion for something, everyone without exception can catch their dreams,” said Arescurenaga to Ruby’s Rainbow.


Zumba is truly one of the most diverse fitness programs that exists today. From Zumba Step and Aqua Zumba, to Zumba Gold and Zumba Kids, this fitness program has variations to fit everyone’s abilities. Across all Zumba formats students can find a mix of low-intensity and high-intensity moves for an interval-style calorie-burning dance fitness party. 

As a student, it’s easy to get caught up in the Latin and World rhythms of the music during a Zumba class, but you will end up achieving a total workout that combines elements of cardio, muscle conditioning, balance and flexibility. Because Zumba choreography is inspired by hip-hop, soca, samba, merengue, and mambo, Zumba fitness classes are often called exercise in disguise.

It’s clear to see that Zumba was the perfect fit for Arescurenaga from the start. As a past Zumba student myself, I can attest to the fact that Zumba classes really do allow people of all ages and dance abilities to shine. Arescurenaga, for instance, went from a student, to an instructor, to dancing on stage with Zumba creator Beto Perez and teaching classes for the National Down Syndrome Congress in just a matter of years. With a little hard work and determination, Arescurenaga is now able to use Zumba as the vehicle to share her talents with people in San Francisco and abroad. 

To find a Zumba class near you, visit www.zumba.com .


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