Mt Evelyn Zumba instructor rewarded for random acts of kindness
A Victorian mother of four who’s been hosting free Zumba classes to boost people's mental health and morale in lockdown has been the latest recipient of the TODAY show’s segment, Random Acts of Kindness, supported by The Lott.
Josie Rothon, a Zumba instructor of 22 years, made the decision to run the dance classes online after she faced sudden unemployment.
Josie now hosts the classes twice every weekday onZoom, which attracts people of all ages, genders, and fitness levels.
To keep participants entertained, she regularly organises fun and interactive themes for everyone to enjoy, such as Halloween, Bollywood and AFL.
The classes have gained such popularity that people as far away as the United Kingdom are tuning in weekly to participate.
Josie is no stranger to giving back to the community. Last year, while her son was in the hospital recovering from a broken arm, she offered her classes in the hospital tearoom.
The Victorian has faced her own share of challenges in more recent times, with her two-year-old Golden Retriever Maisie being diagnosed with bone cancer. According to her family and friends, Josie turned down community offers for a ‘GoFundMe page’, despite her battle to cover diagnosis and treatment bills, ‘believing someone else needs it more'.
Josie received a $15,000 surprise for her community-minded spirit as part of the Random Acts of Kindness. We spoke to Josie after the segment.
“I cannot believe it. I’m still shaking!” she laughed.
“When the camera crew were outside, I was in absolute shock horror. It’s honestly unbelievable! I didn’t answer the door at first because I was getting ready to run a Zumba class.
“In March last year, I was stood down from my part-time waitress job. I didn’t know what to do.
“I thought to myself, ‘what can I do to keep myself and my participants active during lockdown?’
“I’ve always said the classes are free for everyone as people are struggling like me financially, but donations are welcome.
“Within the first week, it grew significantly. I have on average 150 participants per week.
“The best part of my job is hands down the medicine of dance. It brings everyone together! I give people a daily infusion of humour, dance, and exercise.
“Some of the ladies on Zoom I’ve never met. But it feels like I’ve known them all my life, and they feel like my best friends. We’re all a family.
“I’ve had people from the UK, Denmark and even Texas tune into the online classes! It’s worldwide.
“One of the participants from the UK is so obsessed with the classes, and she stays up until midnight to tune in. Imagine dancing in the middle of your bedroom at midnight?
“The money will help me tremendously. The only income I have is my Zoom Zumba. $15,000 will be my annual salary at the moment.
“I said to my class this morning, ‘it feels like I’ve been paid for a whole year’. It’s truly magical.
“I can’t thank you enough.”
If you want to learn more about Josie’s Zumba classes, head to ‘Josies Live Zumba’ on Facebook. Well done, Josie.