When Army Sgt. Catherine Marte left active-duty service, she struggled to find her place, feeling lost without the camaraderie of a military unit. A woman of action, Marte did what she knew best by putting her energy into physical fitness. At the gym, she found community in the most surprising of places — the Latin and African beats and rhythmic dancing of Zumba Fitness®.
“One day I came into the gym, I heard this music and it just drew me in — literally. I was like, ‘What is happening? Okay, I’ll go take check out this class,’” Marte said.
Soon friendships blossomed. Marte found a community of military spouses and before she knew it, she signed up to be a Zumba Fitness® instructor.
“The funny thing is, I’m a military spouse but as a sergeant in the Army, military spouses were a pain — always calling me about their soldiers,” she said with a laugh. “My network ended up being this wonderful community of military spouses who love fitness and I’ve grown to adore them.”
Marte says the way Zumba Fitness® combines music and the dance spoke to her.
“Being able to be in a room with people where you don’t feel judged, you feel inclusion, is so great. You can just dance away the stress,” she said.
“For so many of us military spouses, this is an outlet from the day-to-day struggles of having to support families, children, and everything else in our lives. I can say to everyone, ‘No, this is my time.’”
Marte also has a certification in STRONG by Zumba, a program that blends mixed martial arts, kickboxing elements, and the biometric elements of exercise.
“This is my current thing right now!” Marte said. “It makes you feel so strong.”
As her family has moved with the military, Marte joined gyms and met new friends along the way. While stationed in Georgia, she taught Zumba to platoons as part of their PT requirements. She says that some in the platoon struggled to maintain the cardiovascular endurance and stamina required for the class.
“Oh, they found it far more challenging than they expected,” she said.
Recently, her husband retired and the family has settled in Deerfield Beach, just outside of Miami, Florida. Marte finished her degree in kinesiology and operates as a choreography specialist — known as a Zumba Jammer — for Zumba Fitness where she holds exclusive instructor workshops worldwide.
Her advice? “All right, go for it! Get your certification,” she said. “You won’t regret it.”
“It’s a great opportunity for the emotional, mental and physical outlets, but it’s a good opportunity to engage and connect with others to find your community.”