CHICAGO — Israel Alvarez is better known as El Zumbero de Chicago.
He is a certified Zumba instructor who for the last seven years has been offering free workout classes all over the city.
He came to Chicago from Veracruz Mexico where he had started his mission to empower women through exercise as an aerobic instructor.
“I think it’s my mission. It’s my passion,” he said. “I really like to support women.”
He lived with his family in Pilsen and taught lessons at a local gym but then decided to take his moves to the street.
He teaches lessons daily at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. because he says those are convenient times for his students, many of them single working moms.
Many times, locations vary because it’s hard to find a space that will allow him to teach for free. He has secured Thalia Hall for the 9 a.m. class.
Zumba student Erica Bureman found Alvarez on Facebook four years ago precisely when she was looking to lose the weight she gained after two pregnancies. She said she lost the weight and gained so much more.
“He doesn’t just exercise. He doesn’t just do Zumba. He empowers the girls,” she said. “And when you have someone that empowers you, you don’t stop right there, you go over the top.”
Even though he is a certified professional Zumba instructor, Alvarez brings his own moves, music and flavor to his classes. He focusses on music from the 80s and 90s in Spanish and English which he knows the majority of his students grew up dancing to. He teaches a wide range of ages and backgrounds.
“I think that I’m here for something big and I really want to support women and other people and give my passion to other people around the world,” he said.
More information on Alvarez's Facebook page: www.facebook.com/elZumberoDeChicago/