Routt County Zumba dancer rings in 80th birthday |

Routt County Zumba dancer rings in 80th birthday

Ben Ingersoll
Giselle Miller, who turns 80 on Friday, celebrates with her Zumba class at Old Town Hot Springs on Thursday morning.
John F. Russell

— Don’t tell Giselle Miller she’s too old to dance.

A jam-packed Zumba class at Old Town Hot Springs honored Miller on Thursday with a surprise party a day before her 80th birthday. Eighty, however, is just a number to Miller and one that won’t keep her from her thrice-weekly Zumba routine, she said.

“I’ve never been afraid of numbers, so I’m not afraid of my number,” Miller said.

A self-described jock, Miller dances to the beat every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday in the class that features all age groups and fitness abilities. Always in the front row with a smile pasted on her face, Miller values her fitness as much as anything else.

“I just like life,” Miller said. “I like to be in shape if I can be, as long as I can be.”

Zumba first was created by a Colombian dancer and choreographer in 2001, and its motto is “Ditch the Workout, Join the Party.” It features fitness, entertainment and culture in one rhythmic workout.

Miller was born in Colombia to a Colombian father but spent the first 18 years of her life in Switzerland, where her mother was from. She moved to the United States without knowing a word of English and escaped a busy Southern California scene to the Steamboat Springs area 38 years ago.

Miller is married with three grown children, three granddaughters and one grandson, who all live in Steamboat. She commutes 30 minutes from Thorpe Mountain Drive near Oak Creek to the Zumba classes, which she very rarely misses.

“What’s really cool is it’s a community,” Zumba instructor Jodi Glaisher said. “We welcome new people, but if Giselle hasn’t been here for a while, people are always asking if she’s OK. We all take care of each other.”

During the post-class party, Miller joked with Glaisher that she didn’t want another party when turns 100 and still is dancing. In a class packed with a variety of ages, Glaisher said Miller serves as an inspiration for those in attendance. The Zumba classes last about an hour each, but as long as her legs continue to allow it, Miller said she would keep coming.

“I just love them, and I want to be in shape,” Miller said. “I don’t want to be an old lady in a wheelchair.”

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

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