Kristen Kilduff Fernandez, Mrs. West Bay, is an anesthesia technician in the operating room at Kent Hospital, as well as a local Zumba instructor, who’s hoping to motivate more people to be active this Saturday, as it’s National Dance Day.
The event, which is free and open to the public, is a grassroots initiative to encourage the nation, young and old, to move. The Dizzy Feet Foundation, a non-profit organization started in 2009 by prominent figures in Hollywood such as Katie Holmes, Nigel Lythgoe, Adam Shankman and Carrie Ann Inaba, among others, created the event to support, improve and increase access to dance education in the country.
For Fernandez, a West Warwick resident, holding an event to promote National Dance Day was a no-brainer.
“I’m set on training, eating healthier and being a better person,” she said.
Beginning at 10 a.m. at the Arctic Gazebo on Main Street in West Warwick, Fernandez, along with two other Zumba instructors, will shake their tail feathers until 1 p.m. They are welcoming people of all different dance backgrounds and levels.
“You don’t have to be an expert – everyone can move,” Fernandez said. “It’s a fun, free event for the whole family.”
This year marks the first in which Zumba, a Colombian dance fitness program that incorporates hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, martial arts and belly dance moves, is noted as an effective means of exercise.
With that in mind, Fernandez and her team of instructors will each teach a half-hour of Zumba, as well as collectively perform a routine with participants. The collective dance, said Fernandez, will be filmed and submitted to the televised reality show on FOX for airtime.
“The show features people from around the world who took part in the event,” she said.
To help participants do their best, a video of the routine is available online at youtube.com/user/dizzyfeetfoundation.
As Mrs. West Bay, Fernandez, a member of the Rhode Island Healthy Schools Coalition, is eligible to compete in the Mrs. Rhode Island pageant, which will take place in February, though a date is yet to be selected.
Her two daughters, Ava, 4, and Viviana, 2, as well as her husband of five years Christopher, are being incredibly supportive and are encouraging her to take part in the pageant.
“We’re all eating healthy and exercising together,” she said. “Being in the Mrs. Rhode Island of America pageant is about me reaching a goal. It’s allowing me to make National Dance Day a bigger event than I think it would be than if I was just doing it on my own.”
Also, she recently participated in the Tough Mudder event, an intense, 10- to 12-mile obstacle course designed by British Special Forces that allows people to test their strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie. A half-million people throughout the world have participated and raised more than $3 million for the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit organization that aims to raise funds and awareness for injured military veterans.
Through Tough Mudder, Fernandez realized she is, in fact, one tough mother, as she left the event with battle scars.
“I tripped on an obstacle but still finished the course,” Fernandez said. “I said, ‘My teeth are there and my nose isn’t broken so just bandage me up.’ I did it as Mrs. West Bay but my goal is to complete it as Mrs. Rhode Island.”