“I’m extremely excited to get back and teach classes and make a difference around here,” she said.
Stanford was the city where Wilson first discovered her love of physical activity as an elementary school student. Former neighbor and fitness instructor, the late June Bastin, routinely brought Wilson along to the gym for exercise classes, and Wilson hasn’t looked back since.
During high school, she played basketball, tennis and golf.
“I was the one who was diving on the ground for the basketball, but I had a bow in my hair, too,” she said.
At the University of Kentucky, Wilson began teaching fitness classes and earned a degree in exercise physiology.
Though she enjoyed traditional exercise — running, weight-lifting, aerobics — Wilson also sought out jazzier types of physical activity during college.
“I was always looking for adult dance classes, and they were always hard to find,” she said.
But after more than 10 years of teaching professionally, Wilson discovered Zumba through fellow instructor Ann Mosley. The fusion of fun and fitness contrasted with Wilson’s former boot-camp style courses, but she fell in love at the first fanny shake.
“It was exciting and something where I could finally combine fitness and dance,” Wilson said.
She spread her Zumba zeal thought central Kentucky for several years with energetic classes that used the full range of Zumba styles from cumbia to salsa to hip hop.
Quickly discovering she had a knack for Zumba choreography, as well, Wilson decided to audition to be a Zumba Jammer in February 2010. ZJ’s are advanced Zumba instructors and choreographers that the Zumba Fitness Home Office selects to represent the company and teach other instructors from around the world. About 4,000 people, including Wilson, initially applied, but the extensive audition process rapidly weeded them out. Wilson submitted five videos of her teaching and dancing, choreographed three dances and wrote essays during the months-long search. In the end, her hard work paid off, and Zumba Fitness offered her a ZJ position.
“I started jumping up and down and crying, and my son and I were dancing around the living room,” Wilson said. “I basically was the small town girl from Stanford who grew up playing sports. I never thought this could happen.”
Wilson is now one of 160 ZJs in 15 countries. She travels around to states, including Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Colorado, to teach ZJ workshops, resulting in instructors from across the nation and Canada teaching her choreography.
“Someone wrote on my Facebook, ‘Nova Scotia loves your choreography,’” she said. “That was really surreal to me.”
This year, Wilson landed an even more prestigious position — presenter at the International Zumba Convention where more than 6,000 instructors attended from more than 100 countries. Wilson was one of nine presenters selected based on attendance at and reviews of their workshops.
“I was shocked,” she said. “I was thrilled.”
During the convention in Orlando, Fla., Wilson taught her choreography to instructors from countries including South Africa, Belgium and Canada, experiencing Zumba’s power to unite people of all nationalities and ethnicities.
“Once a class starts, the music comes and everybody forgets that and just comes together,” she said.
Wilson also has helped crowds of tens of thousands bond over Zumba by dancing at Indiana Pacers and Memphis Grizzlies basketball games in support of the American Heart Association and Zumba.