Monday, December 1, 2014

ZINspiration Mondays with Cody

Today's ZINspiration comes from Cody, a lifelong dancer and all around strong woman. Her story is powerful, and I'm so glad she allowed me to share it with all of you. In her words:

Most people know me as Cody O Zumba. I want to share my story, I want to show the world exactly who I am and exactly how this program has changed my life. 

Cody is rockin' out on the right!
Being part of the ZIN movement has made me the woman I am today. Zumba has given me a purpose and it has driven me to have only 1 goal in life and that is to empower others through spreading the Zumba love.  I have been dancing since the age of three, studying styles such as tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop, contemporary, salsa etc. Dance has always been my life, there is no better place for me than to be on that stage inspiring others to empower themselves through movement and feel confident and beautiful; especially as a woman. I had always felt that way when I was on stage even as a young girl. I felt as if nothing could touch me and I knew exactly who and what I wanted to be. 

When I was 19 years old I found myself in my first year of college. I met a boy who I thought was special, who I thought was the love of my life and who I thought would never disrespect me or hurt me in any way shape or form. It started out normal and I was happy, but as time went by this person took away everything I ever loved. I was no longer allowed to have contact with my family or friends and dancing was no longer a option.

What was I left with? Nothing but myself, I felt broken lost and alone. Due to stress I could no longer eat or keep any food in my body. I found myself bulimic and alone and trapped in a physically and mentally abusive relationship. One day I was extremely upset and I turned on the TV to the shopping channel and what did I see? The woman I now look up to as my biggest inspiration: Miss Kass Martin herself, selling the Zumba Exhilarate DVD set. I said to myself I want to be like her, I can do this, this is exactly what I am supposed to be doing.

The next day I went online and saw that there was a training coming to my province in the following month. I registered immediately and I couldn't wait. As I knew I would likely not be "allowed" to go by myself to take the training, I had to lie to get there. It was an up and back trip and I had to be checking in very frequently so he knew what I was doing. I don't think I even had the chance to enjoy my training because deep down I was so afraid that I was even there.

I began teaching for a few months when I got home; the only reason it was allowed because it was bringing in decent money to our household and it was more "fitness" than "dance".  I realized that I had fallen madly in love with this program and I registered for the 2013 Instructor Conference in LA. I had to lie and say that my work was sending me even though my mom had been gracious enough to make my dream come true and send me to the conference.

I fought tooth and nail in order to make it to this conference, but before I left I was thrown down the stairs, my large and heavy suitcase thrown on top of me and after finally getting in the car I was left on the side of the highway with my suitcase because he was so mad that I was going. He came back for me; but it was not a pleasant drive. I was threatened that if I went he wouldn't be there when I got back and I said ok, and continued on my way. Large parts of me hoped he really wouldn't be there when I got back, but he was.

Bottom line... this conference made me realize my true passion, my true love and my true purpose. It was about a month later things got physical and I was left with a completely smashed in face and a black/purple eye. I loved him with all of my heart, but this was when I got my life back. I moved and started my new life. I was allowed to wear whatever I wanted, put my make up on, and best of all... DANCE.

I now dance and teach Zumba classes for a living and my life could not be better. Who knew a year and a half later I would have started my own company and be on stage with Kass Martin, the woman who made me realize that I still had a dream. I have so much yet to accomplish but I am well on my way. I am so proud to be ZIN, because this program saved my life! 

My goal in life is to spread my message of empowerment, raise awareness of domestic violence and share my love of Zumba fitness for the rest of my life!

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