Christina Gonzalez now holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physiotherapy from The University of the West Indies (UWI). The dancer and choreographer – who is known for leaving it all on the stage with her electrifying performances – is now crossing a new stage of her life as a college graduate. She is thrilled, not just about what she has learnt, but the impact she will make.
“I loved learning about the human body and how exercise affects its overall efficiency. I enjoyed having in-person experience with members of the medical team. My cohort and I were taught by physiotherapists, surgeons, neurologists, cardiologists, and even dermatologists. It was a wonderful experience,” she told Flair.
The studying process, she confessed, was demanding — both mentally and physically. Her three-year sojourn included, on average, eight hours of lectures daily and practical sessions. Outside of regular school, she did mandatory hospital or clinical practice hours. Though it was challenging, she can honestly say it has been one of her best decisions to date.
When she wasn’t hitting the books or taking a pragmatic approach to learning, she was busy booking shows as a dancer, choreographer and fitness instructor.
“I am known for fun, exciting Caribbean-inspired dance choreography and fitness routines which include, but are certainly not limited to, soca, Jamaican, Afro-folk dances, Latin, contemporary and dancehall,” she said.
In recent years, she embarked on a career in bodybuilding and won the bikini fitness title at the annual Jamaica Amateur Bodybuilding and Fitness Association (JABBFA) competition. And she models, too. So how does she do it all? Admitting that her experience with juggling it all was not always easy, she draws inspiration daily from the desire to expand her horizons. “And, in the words of Oprah Winfrey, become the best version of myself,” she shared.
Sacrificing some amount of self-gratification, prioritising is very straightforward when she has a goal in mind. If a particular event or thing does not contribute to attaining that end goal, then it isn’t a priority.
With that in mind, she reflects on this beautiful feeling of being a graduate once again. This is not her first trip to pursue tertiary studies. Gonzalez graduated from the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in 2008. There, she earned a diploma, with distinction, in dance theatre and production, and received the 2008 Rex Nettleford Award for Choreography, which she earned during her three-year tenure at the Edna Manley College School of Dance.
The journey then versus now, however, is quite different. “The emotions are stronger now because balancing this course with my work as a dance instructor was very hard. I remember at some points being tired, miserable and complaining to my loved ones, who were always there for me; my mother Champayne Gonzalez, sisters, and my best friend Micah were always my listening ear, or shoulder to cry on. It was hard,” she recounted.
Gonzalez, like many other students, was forced to complete her studies online due to the global coronavirus pandemic and did so from March of this year to June. “The online experience was rough at first, but again I remained focused on my goal,” she added, sharing that she cried a great deal when she received the good news.
In the same way that tertiary studies wasn’t a new phenomenon, neither is fitness. Her parents, Champayne and Christopher Gonzalez, were fitness and healthy lifestyle advocates. “I enjoy this lifestyle, and it is a blessing that I can share it with others now from a professional perspective, based on scientific evidence.” The correlation is also present in her dance career and physiotherapy studies.
Dancing has always been about fun for Gonzalez; it’s a creative way to stay in shape and learn new skills. But her studies in physiotherapy have refined her teaching style from a health and safety standpoint.
At the moment, her virtual dance classes continue to grow in strides. She has one final dance even,t titled Dance Week IV, which will be held via Zoom from December 14-18. “I will offer five different classes over five days: Bruk-Out, Flexibility Training, Wining 101, Isolations 101 and Twerk 101,” she shared.
As for the future, Gonzalez has her sights set on growing and expanding.
“My plans are to continue to expand on what I currently offer. So I was only a dance and fitness instructor, but now, with the degree, I can help individuals to recover from musculoskeletal injuries, as well as help persons with or without underlying health conditions to gain and maintain physical well-being and to ultimately live a better quality of life. All based on scientific-based knowledge of the human body,” she said.
IN PHOTO: Christina Gonzalez on the set of recording artiste, Gyptian’s ‘Something Special’ music video, which she not only appeared in but also choreographed.