Popular El Segundo Zumba Instructor Karla Vega Dances Her Way into Clients’ Hearts

The right moves.

The line grew outside the door of the largest studio at the Bay Club in El Segundo. Several people anxiously peered through the glass wall hoping they would make it off the waitlist. It was easy to spot Karla Vega in her matching day-glo yellow bandana and T-shirt with orange tennis shoes and black leggings—even though she was not standing in front of the class. 

As Latin music started blaring, the class quieted down. Within seconds, the room converted from small talk to Karla’s domain. And in that domain, Zumba rules.

Zumba, founded by Colombian dancer and choreographer Beto Pérez in 2001, is an interval workout with a spicy flair that gets your heart rate up and boosts cardio endurance. “We take the ‘work’ out of workout by mixing low-intensity and high-intensity moves for an interval-style, calorie-burning dance fitness party,” explains the official Zumba website. The class is a total workout that combines cardio with muscle conditioning, balance and flexibility while boosting energy.  

Even if you can’t replicate the same movements she demonstrates with vibrancy, she’s going to make sure you work out both your body and soul.

While growing up in Huatabampo, Mexico, running was Karla’s exercise of choice. It wasn’t until she lost part of her college scholarship while attending Universidad Kino in Hermosillo, Sonora that she found a part-time job at a local gym. Karla soon learned that fitness instructors were making $30 per class while she was earning $30 for five hours. 

Despite never taking a group fitness class herself, Karla made a deal with the gym that if any instructors were unable to teach, she would substitute for them until she became credentialed. When an instructor canceled the very next day, Karla taught her first fitness class. The members lauded Karla’s enthusiasm and instant appeal. Soon she was given her own classes.

After moving to Tijuana in search of better opportunities, Karla worked in human resources while also teaching classes on the side. “I was telling my coworkers, ‘I have to go teach classes,’ of those days doing double duty.”

While teaching classes at Curves fitness center, she discovered Zumba. Loving the music and energy of the program, she quickly took Zumba training courses in Corona. Eventually she earned licenses in several facets of Zumba, including toning, aqua, Sentao (serious core workout), gold (for older adults looking for a modified class), kids, step and Zumba in the Circuit. 

By 2010 she was married and moved to Los Angeles. She started taking classes at the YMCA in Westchester. She applied for a work permit, but before she even received it she had secured a volunteer position at the Westchester YMCA. Not long after, she became an employee. Karla embraces the idea of manifesting your future by determination, planning and foresight.

An admitted workaholic, she now has more than 20 years of experience as a fitness instructor, as well as a dedicated following in the South Bay. Currently she teaches several Zumba classes at the Bay Club in El Segundo, as well as a Sunday early-morning class on the beach in Playa Del Rey and an online class on Thursdays. 

Laughter, excitement and energy encapsulate the feeling you get when you take Karla’s Zumba class. Even if you can’t replicate the same movements she demonstrates with vibrancy, she’s going to make sure you work out both your body and soul.