Our most popular Downtown Brooklyn Presents event this season by far has been Zumba @ MetroTech Commons. From the very first week, classes have been at capacity, and we’ve extended the season twice due to popular demand. Its success is not only evidence of people’s desire to get outside and exercise post-lockdown, but also a testament to the popularity of its instructor, Natarsha McQueen. We recently had the opportunity to ask her some questions and got to know a little more about Brooklyn’s renowned queen of fitness.
DBP: You have a dedicated fanbase that comes to your classes every week, but there’s a lot about you that they may not know. Tell us about yourself.
Natarsha McQueen (NM): I’m a 12-year breast cancer survivor, born and raised in Fort Greene, so I’m a Brooklyn girl to the core. I’ve got a beautiful rich heritage of African American, Jamaican and Japanese. I’ve naturally always loved to dance, so I started taking ballet at 5 years old. I spent my college years at the University of Maryland, but eventually moved back to NY and had a pretty fun career in modeling, and dancing in the theater. I have also spent time working a regular 9-5 at BET which was amazing, but I hate schedules, so my current career speaks to who I am.
I love music, I love brunch, ironically my favorite sport is boxing, and I’m also known to be pretty good at pool. If I’m not working, I’m either reading or crocheting… I’m very much a homebody. Of course, I love my work, but sometimes it can be frustrating in terms of representation. My goal is for Black women to see themselves represented in areas of fitness that they feel unseen & unwelcome, particularly in Barre & Pilates, which is why I’m so passionate about what I do. Fitness should be inclusive!
DBP: Our Zumba @ Brooklyn Commons series with you has had the biggest turnout of all of our events this year. Why do you think that Zumba brings so many people together?
NM: It’s just a truly fun environment where there’s no judgment and no stress. This year, we’ve all been inside our homes isolating from others so long that being able to connect with the world outside the home is a gift, especially since we’ve been disconnected from a sense of community. When the gyms closed, we all lost our extended family away from home. Everyone has that natural human need to interact with others and what better way to do that than with great music and dancing, languages that speak to everyone. That one hour allows people to escape from what’s happening around them and just be, myself included.