Zumba instructor on mission to get folks in shape
On a Wednesday morning, a room full of eager participants at D.W. Wilson Community Center gear up for an hour of sweating and dancing with Zumba instructor Will Prater.
During the class there are two requirements – to laugh and to have fun.
Prater, a Tullahoma resident, began teaching Zumba two years ago and is on a mission to get people up and moving.
The Journey that led to Zumba
Zumba is an aerobic fitness program featuring movements inspired by various styles of Latin-American dance and performed primarily to Latin-American dance music.
Prater’s encounter with Zumba came eight years ago when he and his wife, Julie, were looking to offer activities at their café.
“My wife (Julie) got into Zumba back in 2009,” he said.
“We owned a café and wanted to offer as many different experiences and events as possible. Even though it was in a café, we were lucky in that the eating part of it was separate from the kitchen part, so we could hold whatever classes we wanted. We had one of our friends who was a Zumba instructor come in and teach.”
While it was another six years before Prater would become an instructor, he would continue to grow in his fitness journey.
“My wife and I made a decision to become healthier. We started out just portioning our foods,” he said.
Prater said his wife then convinced him to join the local weight loss competition, Lose to Win. Prater said that was a game-changer in his fitness journey.
“The first time I went there was something about the leader of the event, Joe McKamey. He was so personable and so real about his own fitness journey. He sat down such realistic expectations,” he said.
Prater said he learned that it’s about a life change and not a diet.
“Once you start to approach it that way, you start to see the change,” he said.
“He said he wasn’t going to tell us what to eat, but to inform us what’s in the food we eat. I felt really empowered by this approach and I feel like those I teach feel empowered, too.”
To keep his fitness journey on track, Prater decided to become a Zumba instructor.
“If you told me two years ago that I was going to be a Zumba instructor, I would have laughed hysterically. I really enjoy it. I’m not a good dancer. I consider myself a move enthusiast,” he said.
Prater said that for him Zumba is all about the love of moving and dancing.
“I love dancing but I’ve never thought of myself as a dancer,” he said.
“I encourage the people in my class that it’s not about getting the move perfectly. It’s about moving your body and enjoying what you are
doing. Zumba also offers the most freedom in regards to its instructors. It allows them to take the moves and modify them however they need to according to the class.
A Love of Teaching
Currently, Prater teaches 11 classes each week, Monday through Saturday, with most of his classes taking place at the community center.
“D.W. Wilson is my home base,” he said.
“There are some classes I teach at churches and there is also a special education class I teach. I feel like anybody should be able to get up and move.”
He said that teaching helps him stay motivated in his fitness journey.
“I think if I’m involved in it I am more likely to stay in it,” said Prater.
“For anybody who is interested, I would definitely recommend being a Zumba instructor. It is one of the most fun experiences I’ve had, because it is so liberating. It just helps you along that journey of getting up and getting active.”
Prater is also currently offering a fitness plan, “24 in 12.”
The program presents 12 classes over the span of 12 weeks, all focused on healthy eating and healthy living.
Then after each hour-long class, participants take part in a one-hour Zumba class.
The class is free to D.W. Wilson members and $3 each week for nonmembers.
For the future, he hopes to keep motivating as many people as he can.
“I think the biggest thing is that I want people to feel empowered to change their health in whatever way they choose,” he said.
“There are, for lack of better words, skinny fat people and fat skinny people. There are lots of people who want to be healthier and I just want to be a part of that journey in whatever way I can. I want to live my best life and be my best self and I want to encourage others to do the same.”
To learn more about the “24 in 12” plan, visit Facebook at HealthyPrater. Zumba classes are offered at 9 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 8 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursdays.
D.W. Wilson are located at 501 N. Collins St. in Tullahoma.