Interview and Photo by Jason Setnyk
Cornwall, Ontario – Meet Christal Bowen, a dynamic dance and fitness instructor who is revolutionizing the fitness landscape in Cornwall with her electrifying Zumba classes. As the founder and owner of Zumba with Christal (ZwithC), Bowen has motivated people through her party-like fitness sessions for over 15 years. Her unwavering passion for dance has ignited the fire within others and inspired them to step out of their comfort zones and join a movement that extends far beyond a regular fitness class.
In 2007, Bowen obtained her license as a Zumba Fitness Instructor in Virginia Beach, US. Fueled by her love for dance and fitness, she set up shop in her hometown of Cornwall, Ontario, determined to share the joy and energy of Zumba with her community.
Over the years, what began as a modest endeavor has transformed into a thriving fitness phenomenon, with ZwithC becoming the go-to destination for those seeking a unique and exhilarating workout experience. Bowen’s classes create an ambiance akin to a pulsating dance party, blending infectious rhythms with dynamic dance routines that leave participants invigorated, energized, and craving more.
Five Questions with The Seeker
1 – How do you create a fun and energetic atmosphere during your Zumba classes?
“I believe that your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, and how you make others feel is your trademark. It is of the utmost importance to me to greet and acknowledge each member before class, keep them motivated and working hard throughout, and see them off afterward, looking refreshed. My goal is to create a party atmosphere that allows members to travel to a place of no worry or concern and to put their minds on vacation. The energy within the class is infectious; I love to see bonds form and smiles exchanged. Zumba takes you to a place that leaves you feeling accomplished and inevitably feeling part of a fitness family.”
2 – What advice do you have for individuals who may be hesitant to try Zumba or feel intimidated by group fitness classes?
“There is no doubt I can understand why people may be hesitant to join a fitness class. Zumba can be intimidating for beginners, but it celebrates the ability to learn the moves as you progress through the classes. First move, then groove, then attitude. Don’t worry if you don’t nail the choreography right away; there is always a learning curve. As long as you are moving, having fun, and becoming a happier, healthier, shinier version of yourself, consider that a success. Anyone interested can join the Zumba Cornwall – Zumba with Christal Facebook page — All are welcome.”
3 – As the owner of Zumba with Christal, what are your future goals and aspirations for your business?
“Since the beginning, I have strived towards keeping the classes fun and fresh, creating new choreographed routines, introducing new music and rhythms, and most importantly, providing a space where members can leave their stress on the dance floor. I was recently named a Mental Health Ambassador, and maintaining the importance of it in itself is a future goal of mine. I love how people choose happiness over their worries for one hour of the day. The benefits of Zumba on mental health have never been more clear – it’s more than just a fitness class, sometimes it’s a way to shut off the world for an hour – some even call it therapy.”
4 – What role does the community play in your approach to fitness?
“My vision for Zumba with Christal was far more than having people come to a class and “work out.” Having been born and raised in this community, it was important that the people who joined my classes felt more like family. I have seen camaraderie, support, and friendships form over the last 16 years, some of that will last a lifetime. Since 2007, we have given back to many charities in Cornwall, and we continue to host fundraising events to help raise awareness and support for the community, one I am blessed to be a part of. There is no Zumba without U.”
5 – What challenges did you face as a Zumba instructor, and how did you overcome them?
“Like every business owner, over the years, I have had to make adjustments, like dealing with inclement weather for outdoor classes, technical difficulties, moving locations due to space capacity, etc. And as I’m sure everyone can agree, the most unforeseen challenges were faced during COVID. Group fitness was one of the first restrictions put in place in March 2020. I had to adjust quickly, and I knew I needed to find a way to give my members the stress reliever we heavily rely on. As a result, ZwithC took on a virtual twist – we hosted online classes twice a week and did so at no cost to participants for six months. The benefits of Zumba on mental health had never been more clear. I am proud to say we have resumed live classes and continue to provide virtual classes via Zoom as well.”
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