Finding dance aerobics in the Galapagos
Have you ever heard of “bailoterapia“? Literally, Bailoterapia translates to “dance-therapy.” To Ecuadoreans, Bailoterapia means doing latin-dance inspired aerobics to the sounds of reggaeton, salsa, and cumbia. To me, bailoterapia is a fun way of getting off the beaten path in the Galapagos, and sweating off my hotel’s huge lunch buffet.
I walked into the big gymnasium in El Coliseo in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz. The crowd was all ages – women and their kids running around the gymnasium, teenagers, older women, and a couple men, but seemed to be all Galapagos residents. I was dressed like a typical tourist in khaki pants with a huge dSLR camera. People stopped their stretching just to stare at me.
I took my place in the back…..way in the back. The instructor took the stage and started the warm-up. People turned their attention away from the weird Chinese girl in the back and to the exercise. Once we were all warmed up the instructor started the salsa, we all started sweating, and even some of the women smiled at me!
By the end of the hour, I had learned a couple new moves, sweated out a bucket, and danced to everything from Marc Anthony to Shakira to Wisin & Yandel. I would give a fair warning that the class is 100% in Spanish, but even if you don’t speak a word of Spanish, I think watching and imitating will get you pretty far. Overall, bailoterapia was a blast, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get off the beaten path in the Galapagos and see the non-touristy side of Puerto Ayora.
About the Bailoterapia program
The aerobics classes are sponsored by the government of Ecuador in major cities. The classes are free for the community, and held daily Monday-Friday in hundreds of parks across Ecuador. The program is called “Ecuador Ejercitate!” or “Ecuador exercise!” and is sponsored by the government of Ecuador to help its citizens stay healthy and combat obesity. The program was founded in 2012, with a $6.5 M investment to initiate classes in 278 points in the country.
How to get to Bailoterapia
As of today, the classes in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz island are held 7-8pm Monday-Friday in the big auditorium “El Coliseo.” From downtown Puerto Ayora, it is easy to catch a taxi in the street. Entrance is free! If you are traveling in mainland Ecuador as part of your vacation, you can usually find a nearby bailoterapia class in parks in major cities and many towns as well. Just ask a friendly local.
Have fun and happy dancing!