From an early age, Bella Gormley was dancing the Merengue, Cumbia and Salsa at home. As a teen, she performed traditional Mexican dances in a Folklorico company and sang Mariachi.

Thanks to her parents, who were from Mexico and Cuba, Gormley’s love for Latin-inspired music and dance runs deep. But when she walked into her local gym with the goal of getting in shape and taking some “me” time after having twins, little did she realize the connection she would feel to Zumba—and how it would impact the rest of her life.

Now Gormley is a GX coach, and her irresistible energy transformed the 24 Hour Fitness ad shoot when she came onto the set and led the cast in a class. We asked her about her fitness journey and how Zumba changed her life.

24Life: Tell us about your fitness journey. What got you started on your career path at 24 Hour Fitness?

Bella Gormley: I have 14-year-old twins, and when I got to a point in my life where I could dedicate time to myself, I wanted to get in shape. My mom mentioned Zumba, and I had grown up dancing in all the Latin-inspired ways, so I thought I’d try it. My first class I lasted a full 30 minutes. I thought I would kill it—and it was so tough! I wanted to lose weight, but it was also a way to find stress relief.

As the years went by, the other students and instructors would say, “You should teach!” So I got certified, and I’ve been teaching at 24 Hour Fitness for six years.

24Life: How have you navigated the setbacks of COVID-19?

BG: With the pandemic, we all have been dealing with feelings of just being down or lonely. Our day-to-day routine has changed. Teaching classes has always been a great escape for me—it doesn’t involve being a wife or a mom—and it has really helped keep me sane through this entire thing. I cannot go for weeks without teaching, so I knew I had to connect with my students somehow. I told my students, “Tomorrow we’re doing it! Let’s dance and not worry about what’s going on!”

Luckily, I was able to continue teaching my Zumba classes through Zoom. Even though I couldn’t see my class in the same way, it gave me something to look forward to. [Ed. note: Gormley is now teaching live classes outdoors at 24 Hour Fitness Simi Valley.]

24Life: What does community mean to you?

BG: What I love about our job is we make people feel happy. People remember you not for how you look, but how you make them feel. I always wear my hair down, which a lot people don’t like to do when they exercise, but that’s my signature. With Zumba you have to have fun, and it’s all about getting into the moves. My hair is an extension of that, and it makes me have more fun. I have students who have become instructors themselves and they all wear their hair down, too. A coworker used to call us the Hair Whip Crew!

As a GX coach, we have the responsibility—and pleasure, really—to build relationships with members. A few years ago, a student came up to me after class and said, “When I take your class, I feel my husband here with me. He has recently passed, and we loved to dance. When I’m here taking your class, I feel him here with me.” That’s one of my favorite stories—that was a big moment for me.

Photo credits: Tom Casey,; Bella Gormley