Special to UM News
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (August 24, 2016)—By day, John Salerno works to improve health equity among minority populations as a research coordinator at the University of Miami’s School of Nursing and Health Studies. By night, Salerno teaches the fundamentals of LA-Style salsa dancing at the Patti and Allan Herbert Wellness Center.
When Salerno was just 2 years old, his family took a leap of faith and emigrated from Panama during a time of political turmoil and moved to Miami. In 2009 Salerno became an undergraduate student at UM, where he first fell in love with salsa dancing. After learning the basics from friends, Salerno was hooked. He quickly pursued his passion, becoming a professional salsa performer and instructor.
“Dancing salsa has brought so much joy to my life,” says Salerno. “But teaching others to experience the same joy is even more fulfilling.”
Salerno extended his stay at UM to continue his graduate studies, and now the salsa dancer is a full-time research staff member at the UM SONHS Center of Excellence for Health Disparities Research: El Centro, managing projects, programs, and events.
Not only does Salerno believe salsa improves his physical well-being, he also attributes his overall happiness and productivity at work to his favorite pastime. Salsa dancing helps the researcher stay active while having a positive impact in his work and personal life.
“When you dance salsa, endorphins are released in your brain, giving you a greater sense of well-being,” explains Salerno. “You are also burning fat while you dance, and when you look good, you feel good.”
Salerno has been an active member of the Herbert Wellness Center for more than seven years and is glad he can give back in the form of salsa dance instruction.
“We always welcome skilled and certified University employees as our class instructors,” says Michelle Kasparian, assistant director of group exercise and community classes. “As employees, these instructors help us to connect with the University community, and they contribute to a sense of shared values and University pride that is unique to our programs.”
Salerno, who has been teaching salsa for five years, encourages the UM community to try salsa dancing as a fun way to work out and a great way to express and release yourself through the art of dancing with a partner. His Beginner LA-Style salsa class teaches the basics and fundamentals of LA-Style salsa that is sure to get you on the dance floor in Miami and abroad. His class meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. in the Herbert Wellness Center.
Adds Salerno, “This class is perfect for someone who wants to learn to dance and likes to have fun!”
In addition to Beginner LA-Style Salsa, the Herbert Wellness Center offers dance, youth and adult aquatics, martial arts, and tennis classes open to both members and non-members. Registration for these classes begins Monday, August 29 and closes Monday, September 12. Classes begin the week of September 6, and a free trial for each class (first meeting only) is available through September 12, excluding youth aquatics. Registration is not required to attend the free class. Class registration is available online or by visiting the sales office Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.