Karen Fadden remembers the day she learned about Zumba: October 15, 2007. She saw its creator, Alberto "Beto" Perez, on the Today show.
"I saw this thing on TV and said maybe it's my time to do something different," she says. She was working at People's Bank in Bridgeport at the time. "I came home and I said, 'I want to do this.' I knew I needed at least a year to see if it was going to be successful or not. Here I am, five years later."
Where she is -- along with her husband Steve -- is Karen'z Dance and Fitness, a spacious studio in a plaza at 510 Boston Post Road, behind Clockwork Comics and Lisiano's Family Restaurant.
What's Zumba? Karen describes it as "dance and fitness mixed together, set to international rhythms," mostly Latin, including reggae, salsa and reggaeton. The fitness program launched by Perez, a Colombian fitness instructor, has more than 140,000 locations across more than 150 countries, according to its official web site.
"It's social," Karen says about her class. "There's a bonding thing. They love it, and they can't wait to come here. I've had people tell me they came from work and forgot their clothes, and they'll go to Wal-Mart to get new clothes. They want to come that bad. When you miss it, it's like an emptiness you feel."
Karen and her husband formerly operated a studio in Milford for nearly two years, she says -- but they're happy to have relocated to Orange, just a short drive down the road from their previous location.
"I think we were in a great location there, and this is a great location too," she says. "This part of the Post Road in Orange definitely has more going on. It's a more hustle-and-bustle area. Every time we tell people where we are, they say, 'That's a great location!' There's definitely more traffic and more going on."
Still, you might miss Karen'z studio -- it's in the back of the building, so keep an eye out for their banners and sandwich board, visible from the road. For now, Karen is counting on word of mouth and some loyal customers. She says her old customers are more than happy to make the drive to get a chance to work out and dance in her classes.