Dominic Flores is a certified Group Fitness instructor with residences in Toronto and the New York metropolitan area. Originally from El Salvador, he grew up dancing cumbia, a traditional Salvadoran music.

“I’ve been dancing ever since I can remember,” he says. “Both of my parents really like to dance, so I definitely think I get my rhythm from my parents.”

He came to the U.S. at the age of 17 to pursue a career in modeling. Eventually, he gravitated to fitness instead. “I stumbled into a Zumba class randomly, and I fell in love with the workout from the first day,” he says. “I felt like I was back home enjoying an afternoon with friends and family. I connected with the music, and it was exhilarating.”

The rest is history: He became a Zumba instructor just weeks later and taught his first Zumba class eight days after completing his training. Since then, he has taught more than 4,000 classes, in the process becoming one of the most sought-after instructors in the New York area.

Dominic has been teaching fitness classes since 2012, and in the past four years, he has expanded his fitness certifications to include different fitness formats, including indoor cycle, strength training, and kickboxing. Whatever the format, he is guided by his belief that if he can change someone’s negative self-image, or make them forget about their problems for that one hour, he has accomplished his goal. “For me, the most important thing is to inspire people so they can be great at whatever they want to do.”

Dominic’s students are drawn to his classes for his high energy, but also for his empathy and encouragement. “At various times in my life, I struggled with my own weight, and I think that it is important for my students to know that we all face various challenges,” he says. “For some of my class participants, this might be the only time they have to do something for themselves in their entire day. I love that they choose to spend it with me, getting the best workout possible, when they could be doing multiple other things.”

A lifelong dream was fulfilled in March, 2020, when Dominic became a U.S. citizen. Within days, gyms closed due to the covid-19 pandemic. He immediately started offering complimentary Zoom classes, and as the weeks passed, continued to offer free classes to frontline workers as well as the unemployed. “I thought it was my duty as a fitness professional to keep people moving,” he says. “It gave people a sense of normalcy. Sometimes, group fitness is more about community than about individual goals.”