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Podiatrist Drops 25 Pounds As Hackensack Zumba Fitness Instructor

John Branwell of Hawthorne, a podiatrist, has also discovered a passion for Zumba. He has lost about 25 pounds since taking up the Latin American dance fitness program in May 2015.
John Branwell of Hawthorne, a podiatrist, has also discovered a passion for Zumba. He has lost about 25 pounds since taking up the Latin American dance fitness program in May 2015. Photo Credit: Contributed
John Branwell of Hawthorne and the Retro Fitness Hackenasck Zumba Instructors.
John Branwell of Hawthorne and the Retro Fitness Hackenasck Zumba Instructors. Photo Credit: Special To Daily Voice

HAWTHORNE, N.J. -- Hawthorne’s John Branwell is all about feet. By day or by night, Between his podiatry practice and passion for Zumba, Branwell’s vocation and avocation are firmly rooted in feet.

  • Who : John Branwell of Hawthorne
  • What : Podiatrist by day, Zumba instructor by night
  • Did you know: In a little more than a year, Branwell lost 25 pounds through Zumba

Branwell, a podiatrist for 23 years, joined his first Zumba class in May of 2015. Now he takes five classes a week, has lost 25 pounds and even became a certified instructor. The feet he works on are stationary and stable, but he gets his own moving quickly in the popular Latin American dance fitness program.

“I wasn’t much into gym activities or weightlifting,’’ Branwell said. “I heard about Zumba, I like to dance and I love music. The rest is history.”

Branwell’s weight loss was a byproduct of Zumba. While he wanted to shed pounds, he found he was having fun in the classes. “Losing weight was a bonus,’’ Branwell said.

Branwell said he enjoys the music and the people with whom he takes classes. “It’s surprising how much I enjoy it,’’ he said. “I had a feel for it from the beginning, and I had a couple of instructors that I just clicked with. They know how to teach Zumba, and I really felt comfortable right from the outset.”

Branwell said he tried a Spinning class, but found it too aggressive. When Branwell discovered Zumba, he found the combination of dance and fitness perfect for his lifestyle.

“I was meant to be in that first class,’’ Branwell said. “I didn’t think I could do it at first. The more weight I lost, the easier it got.”

In March, Branwell learned about a course to become a Zumba instructor. “I asked my instructor if she thought I should take it, and she said absolutely,’’ he said. “I like to be in front of people. I’m not shy. I want to be the class leader. I’m not going to make a career out of it, but it’s something that works well with my schedule and my fitness goals.”

There is little connection between Branwell’s full-time work and Zumba, but he finds his personality plays well in both spaces. “I think it’s just the way I deal with people,’’ Branwell said. “I make eye contact, introduce myself and make people feel good. People like that.”

Now that Branwell has become a Zumba fanatic, he wonders why it took him so long to find his fitness passion. “I’m going five nights a week, sometimes six and can’t imagine not doing it,’’ he said. “Sometimes when I’m an instructor I’ll tape it and go back to watch it, and see all these people following me. It’s amazing what you get back from people.”

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