A BEWDLEY woman who lost six stone through Zumba classes has been recognised for her life-changing journey.
Lindsey Jones, 33, who has changed from overweight couch potato to professional fitness instructor, was selected in a search for inspirational stories of lives transformed by the dance craze.
Her reward was the opportunity to appear in a Zumba session broadcast on ITV’s Lorraine show and to meet Beto Perez, the creator of the worldwide health phenomenon.
Mrs Jones said: “It was an absolutely amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. I felt like I was dreaming - it was indescribable really and Beto was so lovely.
“I got to take part in a Zumba demo led by him at the iconic London South Bank and it was such a special moment.”
The mother-of-two, who grew up in Brierley Hill but has lived in Bewdley for 17 years, weighed 18 stone in February, 2011 and struggled with anxiety and depression.
She said: “I had always been able to dance when I was younger but when I looked into becoming a teacher someone told me I couldn’t do it because of my bigger size.
“My confidence and self-esteem were crushed. I stopped dancing and the weight piled on. It was a low point for me and it was not a nice feeling at all. I remember getting on the scales one day, glancing down at the result and feeling horrible.
“However, when my wedding was around the corner I wanted to shift some pounds so I turned up to my local Zumba class and I have never looked back.
“The sessions were not about image - I wasn’t judged and it was all about enjoying yourself. I loved it and my life began to change massively for the better.”
Three months after attending her first session, the former beauty therapist achieved a lifelong ambition by training to be a Zumba instructor.
She now teaches at Stourport Sports Centre and community venues across Wyre Forest and is certified to lead regular Zumba and Zumba Kids classes, the chair-based choreography of Zumba Sentao and the parents' and babies' programme Zumbini.
“It is so much fun running my classes and it does not feel like working at all”, she added.
“The routines are exercise in disguise and it is more of a fitness party with people smiling, getting lost in the music and releasing happy endorphins.
“It is really rewarding to see members of my sessions dropping weight themselves and improving their lives too.
“I think because I am not stick thin they can relate to me better and feel more comfortable around me.”