Working out at home is hard. Maybe Zumba Pete has the answers.
A Clearwater fitness instructor brings good vibes at a safe distance. | Column
Peter Cintron teaches a virtual Zumba class on Zoom during coronavirus social distancing.
Peter Cintron teaches a virtual Zumba class on Zoom during coronavirus social distancing. [ Facebook ]
Published Apr. 21, 2020|Updated Apr. 21, 2020

Peter Cintron, known to followers as Zumba Pete, stood before a snowy mountain range. A road to nowhere wound behind him like a Kipling poem. He gripped a bandana and addressed his virtual Zumba class.

“I want you to bring that attitude, because that is what we are here for! We can’t be in class, but this is the class!”

Yes, Zumba Pete. We had just started and he was already playing Fireball by Pitbull. The students were stationed in living rooms, patios and kitchens, moving inside the bricks of a Zoom meeting.

“Are we ready? I can’t hear you!”

View this post on Instagram

It's that time again for #Mondaynightmadness New Destination!!! Zumba 7:00 pm (Miami time ) *** Join me on Zoom *** Meeting ID 269 395 9599 Or click link to join: __________________________ Donations appreciated • •Venmo: •ZELLE •Cashapp: $Zumbapete __________________________ ***Tips*** •check in 5-15 minutes ahead •have an external speaker attached or bluetooh if you want big sound •make sure you mute your mic ( i will mute all before we start) •remember to make sure you are on your 5G wifi connection or LAN connection. •the better the internet connection the better the stream. ****IF YOU EXPERIENCE LAG ON YOUR SIDE, DISCONNECT AND RECONNECT YOUR WIFI**** Experience it for yourself! #Zumba #zumbafitness #zinlife #zumbacommunity #zumbaclass #zumbatampabay #fitness #Hiitsquad #hiittzone #hiitworkouts #Clearwater #dunedin #Palmharbor #pinellasfitness #clearwaterfitness #tampa #zumbaworldwide #zumbalivestreams #iamzin #zumbaclass #virtualfitness #virtualtampa

A post shared by Peter Cintron (@zumba_pete) on

Home workouts during COVID-19 quarantine can be the pits. The carpet is linty. The coffee table is sharp. The couch is comfy. How is anyone supposed to get motivated?

Maybe Zumba Pete could restore us. I am not a Zumba person, but not too long ago, I took high-intensity interval training classes from Pete at Crunch Fitness in Clearwater.

He’s the opposite of isolation. He learns names. He hugs. He takes sweaty selfies. He has been known to hunch behind punching bags and yell, “Hit it like someone’s trying to take your money!”

Zumba, a dance workout that combines salsa, reggaeton, merengue and cumbia rhythms, is his passion. I’ve watched him run, literally run from the weight floor to lead a packed hall of people swiveling their hips.

By day, he runs a mobile auto detailing business. He also does some work with precast stone — fireplaces, columns, things like that. Pete, 48, did not grow up musically inclined and never trained in dance. Ten years ago, in the midst of a divorce, a friend convinced him to take a class.

“Oh my God,” he said after. “I want to do it again.”

He trained for his Zumba license and has spent the last eight years teaching at gyms. When he heard about the coronavirus, he started formulating a backup plan without one. It was 8:07 p.m. on March 18 when he got word that class was canceled. He sent a message to students.

“We’re going live.”

Teaching Zumba requires about 6 feet in front and back and 9 feet on either side, so he pushed his sofa and dining table to the walls. He balanced his tablet on a laptop and balanced that on an air fryer. He got the angle. He made it work.

Since those first classes, he’s started filming inside an empty building. He changes the Zoom background, taking class to Egypt, New York, Italy, sandy beaches.

He’s not charging, only accepting donations. His detailing business has dried up by 90 percent in the pandemic, and times are not easy for Zumba Pete. But he’s a silver linings guy, thrilled to have new students from around the world.

Spend your days with Hayes

Spend your days with Hayes

Subscribe to our free Stephinitely newsletter

Columnist Stephanie Hayes will share thoughts, feelings and funny business with you every Monday.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

Last Saturday, some 60 people logged on. Pete danced in his yellow, Zumba-branded sneakers, gradually increasing the complexity of his combos. Dancers dropped messages into the chat. “Hi fam! I miss you guys!” Pete played Bad Bunny’s Yo Perreo Sola, which means “I twerk alone.”

It turns out I am very bad at Zumba. But my silver lining is that I got to try it at home, where the only one who could see was the neighbor building a chin-up bar next door.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter. We’re here for Pete’s positive affirmations, that sweet layer of can-do spread on a full body roll. For the George Bernard Shaw quotes he posts on Instagram. For the courage to get off the couch in an era when each movement feels like a victory.

It was time for the cool down. He turned to the alps behind him.

Posted by Peter Cintron on Friday, April 10, 2020

“The road of life has twists and turns. We never know where the road is going to go.”

Yes, Pete. Fortify us.

“That road takes you to any destination you want. It’s up to you to decide where you go.”

He made a heart with his hands and asked everyone to do the same. It was time for a sweaty selfie.

Clearwater Zumba instructor Pete Cintron's class makes hand hearts at the end of a session during coronavirus social distancing.
Clearwater Zumba instructor Pete Cintron's class makes hand hearts at the end of a session during coronavirus social distancing. [ Facebook ]

Take the class

For information on Peter Cintron’s virtual Zumba classes, follow him at @zumba_pete on Instagram or request to join his Facebook group.

• • •

Tampa Bay Times coronavirus coverage

LOST SOMEONE YOU LOVE TO COVID-19?: Help us remember them

UNEMPLOYMENT Q&A: We answer your questions about Florida unemployment benefits

CONTRIBUTE TO THE SCRAPBOOK: Help us tell the story of life under coronavirus

BRIGHT SPOTS IN DARK TIMES: The world is hard right now, but there’s still good news out there

LISTEN TO THE CORONAVIRUS PODCAST: New episodes every week, including interviews with experts and reporters

HAVE A TIP?: Send us confidential news tips

GET THE DAYSTARTER MORNING UPDATE: Sign up to receive the most up-to-date information, six days a week

WATCH VIDEO: How some in Tampa Bay are finding light amid isolation

We’re working hard to bring you the latest news on the coronavirus in Florida. This effort takes a lot of resources to gather and update. If you haven’t already subscribed, please consider buying a print or digital subscription.


This site no longer supports your current browser. Please use a modern and up-to-date browser version for the best experience.

Chrome Firefox Safari Edge