Lucia Medina is a championship dancer, teacher and choreographer. She has one of the most popular Zumba dance lesson tutorials on YouTube with over 140 million views and counting! (See video below, she’s the one in the red/orange t-shirt.) Lucia, who now resides in Barcelona, Spain, continues to dazzle audiences and students with her superbly coordinated routines whilst oozing energy, positivity and a contagious smile that simply compels you to join in and (at least try to) emulate what she does. And why not? As the popularity of Zumba classes continues to skyrocket, it’s certainly one of the best ways to get yourself physically trim and lose weight, whilst increasing your energy and confidence at the same time.
We were honoured to have the recent opportunity to check in with her. So if you’ve ever wanted to know how a professional Latin-American zumba and salsa dancer trains, what they eat, as well as how they think and see their world, read on for our exclusive (and first foreign language) Interview with Zumba & Salsa Dancer, Lucia Medina! Read in Spanish / Leer en Español.
It’s great to get in touch and we hope you’re doing great. Welcome to Keep Fit Kingdom and thank you so much for taking some time to share with us. What do you think of the name Keep Fit Kingdom, (KFK for short)?
I think it’s attractive and youthful with easy access – initially I thought it might seem a bit serious until I selected a story to read. I like the information that you provide on topics that are always interesting to those wanting to follow a healthy lifestyle.
Our mission is to help a billion people reach 100 years of age happily and healthily – your thoughts?
I´m in favour of this lifestyle and I’m always on the look out for more information. It’s great to have everything in one website.
Thank you! Okay, so let’s start with a bit of background.
When and where were you born?
I was born on 25th January, 1982, in Montevideo, Uruguay.
What is your height and weight?
I’m 1.56m (5’1”) tall and weigh 57kg (9st).
Great. So, what got you interested in dancing? How old were you when you realized you had talent and who were some of your main influences growing up?
My interest was to find something to help me disconnect from my daily life and I discovered that dancing was a social sport. Not only do you learn to dance, but you also do physical activity without even realising it, and, moreover, you meet new people, you go out with them to different places compared to those you used to go to before and you have fun in their company. My cousins, who were new to dancing, came to my home city during carnival time. Everything started there and I was just in the right place and time. It happened without planning it. When I started dancing salsa I was already based in Barcelona and this was about 11 years ago.
I see. So who are a few of your favourite dancers?
Starting with my masters, Adrian Rodriguez Carbajal and Anita Santos Rubín, from whom I had the chance to learn from the beginning and even today we still walk our paths together.
Juan “Pachanga” Matos, one of the most talented people I know, who gave me the chance to work side by side with him. Then there’s the great Tania Cannarsa, who inspires millions of people around the world with her passion and physical movement.
Who do you admire most in the dance community?
I admire every person who fights to keep their identity while doing what they like without compromising their principles. I couldn’t list them all, but I´m the kind of person who would tell them personally.
Nice. So, what is the life of Lucia Medina as a professional Zumba and Salsa instructor like?
Well, nowadays, it’s not only my job but a choice of lifestyle. I’m a very demanding person and finding a balance between disciplined learning and fun cost me a lot.
I can imagine. So what have been the most outstanding moments of your career as a dancer?
Successes and wins are most important to me, not only the trophies, but the compliments at the end of a show. When people want to take a picture with you after finishing a workshop, or comment on your videos or choose you again as their teacher. And don’t get me started about the time when Juan Matos invited me to dance with him, that was “the moment”! (Laughs)
A memorable one! You are well-known for your Zumba instruction videos on YouTube; which Zumba moves do you enjoy doing most and do you have favourite music that goes with it?
The “Destroza”, zumba dance move, is a lot of fun and the song I choose depends a lot on what is currently being played on the radio. I do use mostly Latin songs though.
I see. You travel and teach a fair bit too: where have you travelled and taught so far?
Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, USA, Bulgaria, Romania, Italy, France, Finland, Thailand, Peru, The Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, Germany, Puerto Rico, Austria…maybe a few more.
Quite a few places! So, what makes the dance classes delivered by Lucia Medina fresh, different or unique?
That I always continue studying, training and trying to give them the best.
You don’t speak much English at the moment, but are you interested in working in English speaking countries (United Kingdom, USA, etc.) in the future?
Unfortunately, I haven’t taken enough time to study but I’m working on it! I would love to visit every possible country. Moreover, body language is universal, so a fluency in languages is not required, however to start a conversation is! (laughs)
That’s so true. Which dance skills are you working on right now? Which would you say are the most difficult or complicated ones to master?
Well, what is hard for some, might not be for others, so it’s relative. I’m working on deepening my movements and physical dissociation. I believe it enriches my dancing a lot and gives me more tools to be able to teach better.
How interesting. You always seem to look very happy when you’re dancing! So what is Lucia Medina’s secret? Is that just your nature in life generally even when you’re not performing?
The secret is to do what you like and not only what you can! My nature is to overcome myself and be happy but life is not always perfect and when problems arrive, you cannot show it! We must remember that students or spectators come to enjoy and disconnect from daily life, just like I did in the beginning.
I see what you mean. Where do current dance trends originate and how do you think dance will evolve?
Well, if we’re talking about dance that is “fashionable”, in reality, they’re born from traditional dances that continue to evolve. I don’t know how they’ll evolve in future, but you always cycle back to those traditional foundations.
Okay, onto the exercise you do. How many times a week do you train and what kind of training do you do; gym, cardio, flexibility?
Well, normally, I teach regular classes 3 times a week and train my friends. Other than that, I rehearse for my shows at least twice or three times a week and I have a personal trainer (twice a week) to reinforce my weakest body parts or the parts I don’t train while dancing.
Solid plan. What are Lucia Medina’s Top 3 exercises and training tips for developing better dancing ability that you can share with aspiring dancers?
Without a doubt the fundamental thing is the foundation. I always say you can distinguish one dancer from another simply by looking at their base. Therefore, my advice is to always practice anything new from the base. In other words, I always advise students to analyse their bodies and identify where every movement originates. Most movements are due to other movements so this understanding is essential for a dance to look natural. The theory is very important as well. And let’s not forget about those freestyle moves or “shines” (footwork performed when dancing solo). It’s great to dance with a partner, as this helps give you speed, balance, rhythm and style…
So do you think stretching helps prevent injuries – how much do you stretch per day?
Yes, I believe that stretching in addition to strengthening the muscles or weak areas helps prevent injuries. I do it after finishing my daily routines, when my body is warmed up, never before. Before exercising I warm up but I never stretch.
That’s a good tip. What’s been your worst injury and how did you work around it?
Well, I’ve had many surgeries and set backs that have complicated my career for short periods but they’ve never prevented me getting back on my feet. There was even a tumour at the base of my foot, just after getting second place at the 2017 world championship.
Sadly, the last injury is not letting me fulfill my ability 100%. A supraspinatus tendon tore from my bone and I ended up in an operation with two metal suture anchors. Right now, I have 37% limitation and even so, we got third place in this year’s world championship.
That’s incredible, great courage. What helps you recover quickly from injuries? Do you use any special therapies or techniques like massage, deep breathing, ice baths, herbal remedies, sauna etc?
My head! (laughs). You must be very focused on what you need to do in order to recover and bear with whatever it takes to get back on track as soon as possible! So I do everything within my reach, but mental strength and motivation are fundamental. I also visit an orthopaedist, do internal muscular strengthening exercises at home and I try to remain mentally focused.
Diet and lifestyle
That’s really interesting. What are Lucia Medina’s preferred ‘go-to’ foods to keep you energetic and performing at your best?
My diet is rich in fats and proteins and low in carbohydrates. For an energy boost, nuts and seeds are the best! I consume complex carbohydrates like oats, quinoa, etc.
Do you have any specific diet (Keto, Paleo, intermittent fasting or vegetarian etc)?
No, nothing in particular. If I had to choose, it would be more like Keto but the truth is I eat this way because I choose to, because I like it. But if I fancy changing at any given time, I do it, especially when It comes to grabbing a beer with my friends or having a glass of wine. I’m lucky I don’t really like candy!
Great to be flexible. What are your thoughts about yoga, do you meditate?
I should, since I’m a very active and nervous person who doesn’t sleep much, but I’m unable to!
Insights, Fun/Leisure & Reflections
A few other various and fun questions now. How has Salsa and Zumba been affected by the internet: do you think social media helps motivate people to become active or, on the contrary, just become lazy spectators watching others?
I think social media has helped to spread out and reach more people that haven´t even thought about going to the gym or a dance school before. But, we also know there are other people who claim to be teachers or artists just by taking classes with their “internet teacher”. I think it has been and still is a good way to share it with the world.
Indeed! Tell us one geeky thing about Lucia Medina that people don’t really know?
I’m obsessed about order (laughs), I can’t stand it when someone moves my things around or doesn’t leave everything exactly as they found it!
Aha! And if you could be a superhero, who would you be and what superpower would you most like to have?
Superdocile! Being more patient! (laughs)
What are some of your hobbies?
Watching TV series’, cinema, having a BBQ with my friends, getting to know different cuisines and just lie on the sofa with my cats.
90’s music, almost every genre, and nowadays, I have to confess I’m beginning to like reggae (laughs)
“Life is Beautiful”, “Man on Fire”, “Time”, “The Pianist”.
What’s been your proudest accomplishment so far?
To live from what I like to do, being where I want to be, being self-sufficient whilst never forgetting where I come from and where I’m going.
Nice to hear. Finally, what special message would Lucia Medina like to share with Keep Fit Kingdom readers, her students, fans and followers in Europe, Spain and around the world right now?
Fight to be who you would like to be and not what others want you to be. Stick with what brings out the best version of you!
That’s strong advice to end with. Thank you Lucia, for your kind participation in this interview. We hope it inspires more readers to take up Zumba (and Salsa) dancing by your example. We wish you all the best of success, keep in touch!