Salt of the Earth: Meet Caroline Wright the zumba instructor who kept Scarborough moving during lockdown
For this week’s Salt of the Earth, Caroline Wright, her journey began 14 years ago when her kidneys failed and she underwent four years of dialysis.
A life-changing kidney transplant in March 2010 transformed her outlook and 12 months after her recovery, Caroline took up Zumba to get fit.
Caroline, who lives on The Grove in Seamer, said: “I fell in love with the Latin rhythms and went to classes for four years. I enjoyed being lost in music for an hour. You don’t think about anything else and I would look forward to doing the classes.”
In March 2015, Caroline trained to teach the classes herself. After completing her gold level, she began classes at Ayton Village Hall in August 2015.
The classes proved popular and it wasn’t long before Caroline, 53, added a second session at Cayton Village Hall.
When lockdown came in March this year, Caroline found herself having to shield, the transplant meaning she was part of the vulnerable group. She felt totally isolated. She looked for a way to reach out and help others who felt the way that she did.
Husband Mal, who nominated Caroline for Salt of the Earth, said: “She worked very hard to ensure all the ladies that would normally attend her community fitness class were taken care of during the coronavirus period.
“Throughout the Covid lockdown, she was unable to teach her classes, so she has delivered classes by Zoom, totally free of charge, several times per week, every week.
“She’s basically been making this situation better for other people.
“After lockdown, Caroline resumed teaching in the community but some of her more vulnerable clients did not feel safe to take live classes, so Caroline has continued delivering free Zoom classes to support them.
“She’s a little angel and deserves recognition for her selfless support to the community.”
Those who attend Caroline’s classes have been quick to explain how Caroline’s classes have impacted their life. Lesley Cox, who has attended Caroline’s classes for the last two years said: “Caroline’s Zumba Gold classes have been invaluable to many of us, both physically and mentally. They have given us something to look forward to and helped to relieve a lot of stress and anxiety that some of us have been experiencing.
“Caroline is a great teacher and whilst working out, we just can’t fail to smile and laugh. She is a ray of sunshine and exudes energy and life into her classes.
“We are not just a bunch of ladies doing a Zumba class, we are a ‘Zumba Family’.”
Bernadette Hermon, who has been attending the classes online, said: “The classes for me were a life line as I live out in Staintondale and felt a bit cut off.
“Caroline is very unassuming and has no idea how she has helped , not only me from becoming depressed out of loneliness but many other ladies.
Dionne Davies, who met Caroline on the school run, said: “During lockdown , Caroline was on the very vulnerable list, so didn’t leave her home at all, but still managed to keep us (her Zumba ladies) smiling and giggling with her Zoom online classes.”
Sharon Carey, who used the lockdown classes to break up her working day, said: “I am not sure I have the words to sum up how amazing she is and how she has genuinely helped me through this difficult time.
“I am sure my family are also very grateful for Caroline’s help to keep me dancing, keep me sane and keep me going!
“When lockdown first came, I switched to working at home (full-time), home-schooled my 12-year-old daughter and looked after and shopped for both sets of elderly parents who were shielding.
“I was fairly new to Zumba but at last had found a fitness activity that I really enjoyed and wondered what I would or even could do in this new world of lockdown.
“I tried all sorts at first – copying YouTube videos, trying to remember routines to songs or trying to find classes online that I was capable of and would enjoy - but it was really hard to stay motivated, find the time and with all of the extra duties of a full-time job combined with home-schooling – it was tiring and very tough!
“I also missed the friendship and general social chat with friends at the beginning and at the end of Zumba classes. It was like we had nothing to talk about at home because we were
“Then someone told me that Caroline had started Zumba classes on Zoom….and things got a whole lot better.
“I had never attended any of Caroline’s Zumba classes and I felt really cheeky asking if I could join, but Caroline was friendly and welcoming and I felt like I had been attending for years!
“For weeks and weeks during lockdown and to this day we continue to Zoom two to three times a week.
“It made me feel that I had some routine back in my life and even now I schedule my working days around being able to Zoom with Caroline.
“I think it is so hard to describe the pressure the pandemic has put on people’s mental health and I know mine would not have survived without Caroline’s classes.
“It kept me fit and healthy and my brain in a fit state to take on the next challenge that the pandemic would throw at us.”
Pip Rowntree said: “Her enthusiasm and smile is like a bright light in these dark times, bringing together a virtual group of friends to “meet” over the internet.
“A little bit of normal life, when in most areas this was hard to come by. She deserves all the thanks in the world.”
Deborah Tacon said: “She is a ray of sunshine during dark times and we love her to bits.”
Caroline said: “ The response has been so overwhelming, I did it to give myself some structure to my day. It kept me sane and some of my other ladies as well!”
Caroline currently runs her online Zumba classes on a Monday, Tuesday and Friday morning and on a Thursday evening.
You can find out more and request a free link to her classes by checking out her Facebook page: Caroline Wright - Zumba Instructor - Scarborough.