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Global Columbus: Mazzy Sims

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Mazzy Sims performs a salsa routine during the matinee of Dancing with the Stars...Columbus Style on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at the Clarian Hotel Ballroom.  Audience members voted on the best performances by donating money to Children Inc., a childcare program in Columbus.
Mazzy Sims performs a salsa routine during the matinee of Dancing with the Stars...Columbus Style on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at the Clarian Hotel Ballroom. Audience members voted on the best performances by donating money to Children Inc., a childcare program in Columbus.

Mazzy Sims

Born: Bogota, Colombia

Age: 35

Primary language: Spanish

Title: Rumba instructor at Total Fitness. Rumba is an aerobic fitness class that is paired with Latin and international music.

Education: Studied sports administration in Colombia, a degree Mazzy later used to manage private gyms in social clubs before coming to the U.S.

Family: Mazzy and her husband, Jonah Sims, have two children: Matthew, 10, and Joshua, 4.

Hobbies: Working out. Mazzy visits Total Fitness at least twice a week to instruct classes but sometimes attends the gym daily.

How and when did you come to live in Columbus?

Mazzy and her husband moved to Columbus about four years ago when Jonah was selected to lead The International School of Columbus.

Tell me about rumba.

Zumba and rumba were both born in Colombia together, but zumba is a combination of hip-hop dancing with Latin rhythms while rumba is Latin rhythms with more of a workout. People enjoy the class for the dancing. Zumba started in Colombia with Beto Perez, whose teacher was named Neru. Neru and I are very good friends, so when I go to Colombia I go out with Neru, we practice together, we dance together, we do videos together. Neru even wants to come to Columbus. He has the official copyright of rumba; he’s been on TV shows and everything. Rumba was before zumba, but zumba came to the U.S. first and is more commercial.

What do you like best about your job?

I like seeing people with good expression, good energy. I take people who don’t know how to dance, like at zero, to a very high level. They finally say, ‘I can, I can.’ It’s very rewarding for me to help them change their life and dance. I’ve helped a lot of people lose a lot of weight and become healthier. I can see the change in people from the first time I met them to after two years have gone by. I can see the change when people didn’t abandon the class. You need to give it at least four classes. After three classes, your brain will do a shift. You just have to be constant, be patient.

What were some of your first impressions of the U.S.?

I maybe found that some people were cold, and they didn’t like change. It’s conservative here, and they didn’t want to know about my dancing and music because it’s different. They’d say, ‘Maybe she’s crazy.’ They still think that if they see my class. They ask, ‘What is that? It’s totally different.’ But when they try later, they like it and they come with many friends. Now people fight for the front row. I feel very happy in this town now; we’ve found many things good. There are great people, and I love working at Total Fitness.

What were the most difficult things to adjust to?

The food because it is totally different. In my country the food is more healthy. There are many more fruits that are difficult to find here because of the seasons, like mango and papaya. The weather is also hard. In my country we never have this type of weather. Never, never, ever, ever. In Colombia, 72 degrees is cold.

How have people reacted to you in Columbus?

They were welcoming. I like that because I have the opportunity to meet different cultures, different people. I can feel the love and the friendships. It’s nice to have different cultures, different foods, different languages because you can learn from each one.

What do you miss most about Colombia?

My family and my friends. My culture. Here it is calm and quiet, but in Colombia it is party all the time. It is loud with screaming all the time in restaurants. We are very active and loud.

What advice do you have for newcomers to Columbus?

All is coming with time. Some people first try to find friends when they come here, but you have to give it time. We stayed here, and we found good things in this town. It’s a nice place. It’s tough at the beginning, especially the weather for me, but you have to give it time to develop. The less you expect the more you’re going to get out of it. I found that people in this town can be reserved; they’re not always going to be very open to you and greet you, but then they become more amiable and open. You have to reach out and understand that’s the way things are in other cultures. At first I felt alone, but now I know hundreds of people.

What’s your favorite place to visit and why?

There are nice things in all different places. In the U.S., I like Florida because the weather and environment is similar to Colombia. In South America we like Buenos Aires. It’s an interesting place with very European architecture — French, Italian, colonial. The people are nice there, and the food is great.

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