About Zukossa Fitness

Zukossa means to Shock

Zukossa is a coined term derived from Soukous and Makossa, referring to popular genres of West and Central African music. For me, the birth of Zukossa Fitness was triggered by shocks and challenges with my own health. As a single parent and graduate student, I endured chronic health problems that interfered with my life and education, and I often felt alone.

Creating Zukossa Fitness was an intentional divergence from western ideals of health, fitness, and well-being. Returning to my Nigerian roots and origins in order to care for my body has had a significant positive influence on my health. It has assisted me in reducing the physical and mental stress that my western diet, sedentary lifestyle, and lack of appropriate exercise had caused my body for so long. I was determined to build a lifestyle in which health and well-being were a regular part of my life rather than an afterthought.

These days, our jobs, families, and other connections or regular interactions may all produce a lot of stress, anxiety, and concern. We strive to provide a safe haven in the middle of life's daily hardships by providing fitness, education, and entertainment. Dance is progressively becoming a forgotten art among some generations who are afraid of seeming silly or just unwilling to put down their phones and participate in a social activity with others. One person at a time, we plan to transform that reality. We urge everyone to take part in this art form and learn how to dance as a social skill. Dance is a healthy activity that provides physical exercise, improves mood and spirit, and has a variety of other benefits.

We are a team, but we are also a community of like-minded, dedicated individuals that stick together in good times and bad. In the face of personal troubles, health issues, and even global tragedies like the current COVID-19 epidemic, we support one another. We have taught Zukossa in Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Senegal, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica! Zukossa provides an innovative and fun dance fitness program that is perfect for people of all ages and experience levels. Spectators are drawn in by our sense of rhythm, intriguing body motions, and basic dancing talents. Therefore, we aspire to keep going and never stop standing by our people in the community.

We are a family. We are supporters. We are Warriors!

If you are looking for a new and exciting way to get fit, then be sure to check out our website and Facebook page for class information.

Dr. Janet Awokoya

The gift of dancing is the center of my life as an immigrant from Nigeria. From a young Nigerian girl who grew up dancing and singing along to Sunny Ade, Fela Kuti, and Brenda Fassie to an expert on 1.5 and second-generation immigrant youth in the African Diaspora. In terms of health and fitness, I embarked on a personal quest to reclaim my health.

I was in graduate school, gaining a lot of weight, and in desperate need of a creative and physical outlet. I truly believe that unless you have a strong body, your mind cannot function optimally intellectually. Like many others, I tried various classes, lifted weights, and did other exercises that occasionally worked but weren't always good for long-term weight loss.

In the early 2000's, I frequented Crossroads, a nightclub in Bladensburg, Maryland that catered primarily to members of the African Diaspora. On any given Friday night, you could find me on the dance floor dancing by myself or with Nigerians, Ghanaians, Jamaicans, or Dominicans, all dancing in one spot in the DMV. We would leave the dance club dripping with sweat oooo! Heh! Those were the days! However, as a single parent, I could only participate every once in a while. Furthermore, I didn't always have the energy, time, money, or babysitter help I needed to get the results I needed. I needed to find a dance fitness class to participate in during the day. I found Zumba! Shortly after taking a few classes, I flew down to Miami, Florida, where I was trained by the creator of Zumba, Beto Perez. I became the self-proclaimed African Zumba Queen! I passionately taught Zumba for six years, in various venues in the DC Metropolitan area. Celeste also became a Zumba instructor and began leading a class of adults at the young age of 15.

That’s how finally, In 2006, the Zukossa Fitness Team was born, with the strong desire to expose a larger number of people to Zukossa, focusing primarily on artists and dance traditions' interactions and intersections in the African diaspora to the fitness world.

But the truth is, I could never have done this by myself. I count on the help and companionship of my loving daughter, Celeste. We are a mother-daughter team, who relentlessly work together, practicing and creating choreography and dance steps and unifying diverse communities, so we can inspire individuals to achieve personal health and wellness through education, music, fitness, and travel. Our classes incorporate West African, Caribbean, and Latin rhythms and creative, originally choreographed routines to encourage participants to be the best versions of their authentic selves.

My daughter has always been supportive of me, and through Zumba and Zukossa, we have been on amazing adventures together! We are prepared to overcome any barriers and leave no stone unturned to ensure the success of our effort. With our enthusiasm, devotion, and persistent efforts, we hope to propel the Zukossa Fitness team and our community of Warriors to new heights and contribute to making the world a better place to live. Working closely with my daughter is an incredible experience for which I am grateful every day, and we aim to spread this great energy to others!

Celeste Awokoya-Gregory

Hello! My name is Celeste Awokoya-Gregory, also known as Celeste the Locpreneur because of my love of Locs and entrepreneurship! Since high school, I have dabbled in many different creative outlets including poetry, fashion, singing, and of course, dancing!

I am a content creator and an entrepreneur that takes a great deal of joy in uplifting, motivating, and inspiring others! I'm a dreamer, a doer, a thinker, and a do-it-yourselfer who likes to get things done. I have an out-of-the-box perspective that motivates me to be adventurous, as I like discovering and doing things that are outside of my comfort zone in order to break through all of life's obstacles and reach the pinnacle of achievement.

I've been dancing since I was three years old, beginning with ballet and tap and progressing to hip hop and other genres as my interests grew. My mother constantly encouraged me to stand out from the crowd, and those words struck me so hard and sparked my spirit that I haven't looked back since. I kept pushing forward, overcoming every obstacle in my path, striving to be the star that blazed so brightly that it would never fade and would live forever in the hearts of everyone who saw it. Even though it has taken many years for me to see the fruits of my labor, my most recent venture, Locs & Business, has made all of my struggles worthwhile. As a Loc advocate, I take particular pleasure in sharing resources and information to help people develop their businesses and present people of color with no barriers to earning income.

My purpose in all I do is to assist you to become aware of your own strength, beauty, power, and capacities. I approach everything I do with this goal in mind and I can’t wait for us to grow, learn, and dance together!