Q&A: Z-Spot’s Lena Andrade

The owner of Boston's first Zumba-only studio tells us about her love for Zumba and why she thinks it's so popular.

Andrade leads a Zumba fitness class outdoors. Photo provided.

Andrade leads a Zumba fitness class outdoors. All photos provided.

Zumba, a dance-style workout class that combines aspects of hip-hop, salsa, martial arts, belly dancing, and other forms of movement, has become increasingly popular over the past few years, especially in Boston. In fact, there are more than 100 Zumba studios within 10 miles of Boston. Just one session of Zumba can help you burn 750 calories or more, and you’ll learn valuable dance skills to boot (and you never know, those moves might even come from Lil Jon). What’s not to love?

So when Lena Andrade, a life-long dancer, moved to Boston to start her own business, she knew what she had to do. It was her childhood dream to open a dance studio and she had experience as a fitness instructor, so a Zumba studio seemed like perfect fit. Lena decided to keep it all Zumba, all the time — The Z Spot, her Zumba studio in the South End, is the first and only Zumba-only studio in the city.

We sat down with Andrade to talk about what it’s like to live and breathe Zumba.

How did you become interested in Zumba?

I started my Zumba career in 2005. I was a corporate events and training manager by trade during the day, and a dance and fitness instructor by night, so I was teaching classes and another fitness pro in the area recommended this new program that was nearly unheard of at the time. It was definitely a hard sell at the beginning. Most gyms told me no when I wanted to teach Zumba, but they would hire me for a cardio dance or conditioning class instead. Over the years, as the program became more popular and more instructors surfaced in the area, more jobs and opportunities became available.

What was opening day like at The Z Spot, and how is business now?

Opening day was amazing. My family, friends, instructors, South End neighborhood residents, and business owners over-packed the studio. It was such a great thing to see so many people smiling about fitness!

Now, business is still good. We have partnered up with some pretty cool companies in the past year to provide classes to their employers and to city-goers. We’ve also participated at numerous festivals, and we even host parties at the studio. The opportunities really are endless because we have so much to offer. We have Zumba Fitness classes, Zumba toning classes, Zumbatomic classes for kids, and Zumba Gold classes for seniors.

Andrade has dancing in her blood. She formarly danced for the Cleveland Cavaliers and was the coach of the Boston Bruins Ice Girls.

Andrade has dancing in her blood. She formarly danced for the Cleveland Cavaliers and was the coach of the Boston Bruins Ice Girls.

What makes The Z Spot different from other studios that offer Zumba classes?

What makes our classes different is the sense of family, which you’ll feel from the moment you walk through the door. We aren’t a gym; we are regular working people like our customers. We want to make you feel welcome, want you to come back, and want you to bring your friends to where you find happiness. I also think that the instructors are just fun. They make you laugh, they get in your face (only to make you shimmy with them), and ultimately care about you enjoying your Zumba experience.

Everyone’s reason for coming to the studio is different. Whether you are there to lose weight, get over a break-up, or relieve stress from your job, we’re in it with you. We really care about our clients.

Who attends classes at your studio?

The best thing about taking classes at The Z Spot is that you never know who is going to show up in your class. We have had all types of people: city officials, celebrities, talk show hosts, news anchors— you name it, they’ve done Zumba with us. We get Boston people, and we also get people who are in town for work conferences and are looking for something to do. Sometimes they bring their whole office to our class because it’s a great team builder and ice breaker.

Why do you think Zumba has become such a trendy way to work out?

The constant stress of health and wellness in our community is what keeps our business steady. People know that health and exercise are important, but many people can’t afford a gym or don’t feel comfortable in a gym environment. We offer a no-judgement zone in our studio that allows people of all levels, ages, and abilities to feel comfortable in our classes. Summer in New England is tough for a lot of gyms and studios, but business is booming for us.

Why do you personally love Zumba?

Honestly, I can’t remember the last time (before Zumba) that I smiled through an entire workout!