Glad We Met: Eloiza Jorge

Four times a week, Eloiza Jorge leads Montclair YMCA classes of sometimes close to 100 members of various ages, backgrounds, and sizes in a series of exercise and dance steps that start with Salsa and travel through Merengue, Cumbia, Samba, and Bollywood moves. She always looks relaxed and confident, and she definitely has fun; Elo’s attitude rubs off on her dance fitness students who sometimes join her at the front of the class.  The energy is positive and accepting, and while not everyone does the steps as they were originally meant, everyone has a great time while getting a fantastic workout.  Students credit Elo’s positive attitude and ability to encourage even the most awkward students to attempt and conquer the most challenging moves.

“I want [the dancers] to feel comfortable in their bodies,” Elo said when asked about her goals in teaching dance.  “And I want to expose people to world music and educate about its roots.” Admittedly, Elo began teaching dance fitness for more personal reasons.  She gained so much energy and positive body image from the classes she was taking, that once she felt confident enough, she challenged herself to start teaching them.  Elo explains, “Weekly dance classes made up for not being able to go dancing at nightclubs or take folkloric dance classes in NYC.  Dance had been a big part of my life before children – this was the perfect way to lose the baby weight in a fun atmosphere. The thought occurred to me: I could totally do this.  It was a fantasy I confessed to my coach and she challenged me to do it; so I did, and here I am.”  After beginning with a class of just a few students, Elo now leads classes that are among the most popular at the Montclair YMCA.  Check out the short videos of her routines at the end of this post.

Elo is also an adjunct professor at three (yes, three!) universities in the area.  She supervises student teachers and teaches education classes to future teachers.   Helping them learn teaching methods and become great educators has been Elo’s priority for many years.  She particularly enjoys helping her student teachers gain the confidence to try out their own ideas and develop techniques that address a diverse array of students.

A more recent passion is personal coaching, more formally called Integrative Life Coaching.  Elo describes it: I work with women and their longing – the longing for full-out living, more passion, profound meaning and deeper satisfaction.  We co-create a safe place for the client to be who she really is. The sessions are an opportunity to practice bringing our playful, fierce, profound, creative, free, authentic selves to light.  Coaching with me helps women design the lives they yearn to live. Elo stresses that while it is therapeutic, it is not therapy; coaching is more client driven.

When asked about what qualifies her to be an integrative life coach, Elo first mentions her own healing work and having a life coach herself.  However, her Masters in Education from UC Berkeley and her certification from the New York Open Center give her “paperwork” to back up her natural listening and advising skills.  Elo says that the year-long program at the Open Center helped her to hone abilities she already had, and she solidified the approach she wanted to use with clients.  Elo works mostly with women, especially those who are experiencing major transitions and shifts in their lives, like motherhood, divorce, and career changes.  See Elo’s Coaching page on her website Deepening Wisdom for more specific examples and testimonials from clients.

The many aspects of Eloiza Jorge’s life don’t seem immediately connected, but looking closer, they all relate to mentoring in some way.  Whether it’s leading dance classes, teaching at local universities, being a personal coach, or mothering two young children, she is always helping others find paths to better themselves.  Healing.  Transformation.  Acceptance.  Eloiza Jorge is on a quest to help as many of us through these stages as she can.

How does someone who gives so much time to other people take care of herself?  Elo admits that while she would like to meditate more often, she makes space for silence at least once a week.  She also writes for herself and on her websites – see below for a list. Teaching dance at the YMCA also helps her to balance her work and family life.  The physical movement and positive energy from the students always end up cleansing any sour emotions by the end of a class.

Thankfully, Eloiza Jorge is a Montclair native who plans on sticking around for the long haul.  Her son is starting Kindergarten in the Montclair Public Schools this fall, and her daughter will follow his lead after she finishes her time at the Playhouse in West Orange.  It’s people like Elo that make Montclair a vibrant, caring, and exciting place to live.

Elo has generously offered to extend her “Pay What You Can” for coaching sessions through June. Click through to the website below to contact her directly.

Eloiza’s websites:

Deepening Wisdom – topics include Truth Telling, Acceptance, and Embracing Imperfection.  It’s a great introduction to Elo’s coaching style.

Elo’s Playlist – various songs (and videos) used in Elo’s dance classes.

Holistic Familia – Elo’s take on raising a family with a positive impact on the world and your entire family.

Kristin has a very unique weblog about goings-on in and around Montclair.

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  1. I love Elo’s music selections! In my opinion, it is the most essential part of the fun. The music she picks moves YOU, and before you know it you are smiling and grooving, and you hour of “exercise” is over. I love that she draws such a cool crew. Regular folks just being themselves and feeling good together. That’s my kind of party! Keep it up Elo and see if you can get us a bigger room!

  2. Elo is serious inspiration. She has coached me informally and inspired me to become a Zumba instructor. It’s an honor to know her and the community is a brighter place with her presence.

  3. Elo is IT! Despite her super busy life, she is ALWAYS smiling, in class and anywhere you meet her in town. And YES sunnysideup, she needs a bigger room, with good AC and fans. That space up there, on Mondays and Wednesdays is too small for us zumbistas (and a couple of zumbistos). I can’t wait for next class to hear my favorite music from Africa, the Caribbean, North Africa or India. Go Elo!

  4. I am so grateful that I met this amazing woman! She is a real inspiration to get out there and do it TODAY–whatever it is you’re thinking you wish you would do but put off until tomorrow. She’s my trailblazer for only getting better with age…LOVE her!

  5. The highlight of my week! a wonderful hour of authentic international flavors. For someone whose pre-mom life centered around travel and dance, this is my fix, my therapy, my soooo- me time. Love it love it love it! It’s like a bi-weekly rendez-vous with my most fabulous recollection of myself. The fact that the class is attracting a lovely mix of wonderful people doesn’t hurt. A bath of good vibes. mmmhh… is it time for the next class yet?

  6. I’m also glad we met!! Elo is like one big joyful hug. I didn’t realize how much I needed one until our paths crossed! She is compassionate but tough, genuine, silly and one helluva teacher lady. I am inspired by the wisdom in her writing, delighted by her yummy recipes, and absolutely live for her dance class – true. The collective energy in one of Elo’s classes literally lifts you off the floor – doing moves you didn’t know you had in you. I have never smiled more!

  7. I regularly attend Elo’s classes at the YY. The hour flies by. Love the world music playlist. I agree that we need a larger cooler space. Elo is a remarkable woman.

  8. Elo is awesome. She’s a great dancer and a wonderful person. She’s also full of wisdom and inspiration. I love going to her classes and running into her around town.

  9. This class is the reason I go to the gym. Music is great and varied; Eloiza changes the playlist or mixes it up regularly. She really understands the relationship between music and dance. And her dance moves are really interesting, not just zumba-fied versions of salsa, merengue etc. You get a taste of so many interesting Caribbean/African/Indian dances. A nice community of people too: always enjoy talking to folks around me. Terrific class.

  10. Elo’s inner and outer strength are so apparent when you are in her presence. Her passion for life, peaceful nature and compassionate heart are contagious!

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