Starting a New Life and Putting a Stop to Health Problems

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Instructor Laura Navarro leads a Zumba class at Silvia Nutricion center. (Photo: Anabell Romero)

Instructor Laura Navarro leads a Zumba class at Silvia Nutricion center. (Photo: Anabell Romero)

“Good morning!” says Silvia Cruz as she greets women who enter her nutrition center.

“It’s five dollars for a shake and the zumba class, or three dollars for the zumba class only,” she says as she’s collecting the money and putting it into a metal box.

Five years ago when Cruz and her husband Roberto Garcia came to the United States, they never imagined they would have their own business. The couple has been married for 25 years. After living a comfortable and stable life in Mexico, Roberto abruptly lost his job.

“My husband was an engineer for 15 years,” said Cruz. “Then his company went under new management, and my husband was laid off along with other employees.”

After nine months of desperately looking for work Garcia was successful in getting a visa to work in the U.S.  The family promptly packed their bags and left their home in Mexico to start a new life in the U.S.

“We came on the bus and we ended up in Wilmington,” said Cruz. “We lived in a hotel for six months with my three children. It was five of us in a hotel room.”

Five years later Cruz and Garcia opened their business in Wilmington, a nutrition center called Silvia Nutricion. At the center they offer zumba classes for adults and children; they have child care for parents to leave their children while they exercise; and they sell protein shakes and vitamins. They opened the center almost four months ago and it has quickly gained popularity in the community.

"I found out about the center through a friend," said Dora Clark, 43, a Wilmington resident. "I've been coming for two in a half months and I love it. It helps me stay in shape and be healthy."

The couple originally started their business from their apartment. They invited neighbors to their home and offered nutrition guidance, encouraging one another to live a healthier lifestyle by exercising and taking vitamins. They began to sell Herbalife products. Then Garcia landed a job at a jewelry store in Wilmington. After three years, the couple saved enough money to rent a space in Wilmington and open their own nutrition center.

“We do this to help people," Garcia said. "We’re not really focused on the business side of things. We’re focused on making sure people feel healthy, stress-free and we encourage exercise.”

Garcia was diagnosed with a nervous system disease that was life-changing for him. The stress of not having a job and not being able to provide for his family had taken a toll on his health. Doctors prescribed medication to temporarily relieve his pain, but he knew he had to change his lifestyle to prevent a stroke.

“I lacked energy. I always felt fatigue,” he said.  “Before starting the nutrition club I was overweight and since then I’ve lost 30 pounds." He says he feels much better since achieving a healthier weight.

Participants of the classes like the fact that there is no monthly cost commitment and moms can dance zumba while there children are being cared for. The five dollar shake/zumba combination is very appealing for Wilmington residents because it is affordable and they can attend classes in the morning or in the evening.

"It's perfect for single moms because they have a day care center and they also offer classes for children," said 18-year-old Laura Navarro.

Even though Garcia continues to work for a local jewelry store both he and his wife hope to expand their nutrition center and continue to inspire others to live a healthier lifestyle.

“Our health is important for many reasons: to live a longer life, to have better self-esteem and most importantly to have energy and never give up in our daily lives,” said Garcia.

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About Anabell Romero

Anabell Romero is an aspiring journalist who grew up in Wilmington and returned home after graduating from UC Santa Cruz. She is currently a graduate student at USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. She is very committed to her community and hopes to bring positive change. Since 2009 she has been Member at Large of the Wilmington Neighborhood Council. She also helped create The Wilmington Wire, a cooperative blog for the community. In addition to graduate school, she works for The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships as Program Coordinator. She has a fondness for informing people about issues that directly impact their community’s infrastructure. Her passion is driven by the fact that she grew up in a largely Latino neighborhood that continues to be faced with many issues that deplete the quality of life for its residents. Her goal is to trigger dialogue about community issues to help empower residents to bring positive change to Wilmington.

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