August 26, 2013 by
Photography by Keith Binder

Iris Moreano just can’t seem to sit still. The 66-year-old Zumba instructor keeps her days filled to the brim with such activities as exercising, gardening, and teaching. And she has no intention of slowing down any time soon.

Moreano moved to Omaha nine years ago with her husband shortly after he was diagnosed with a chronic illness. Living in a new town coupled with the new role of caretaker left her feeling a bit stressed. Not one to sit around and wallow in despair, she joined a gym to meet new people and relieve pressure. When the gym began offering Zumba classes, a total-body workout combining Latin and international rhythms with dance moves, Moreano signed up.

“I’m originally from Puerto Rico, so I grew up with that type of music: salsa, merengue, and cumbia,” she says. “It was a lot of fun, and I felt good afterwards.”

In 2007, Moreano became licensed to teach Zumba. While she currently teaches regular classes at Motion41 Dance studio at 125th and West Center streets, she also teaches at Curves in Elkhorn and at Fullerton Elementary School. All in all, Moreano teaches Zumba three to five days per week and substitutes when needed. But she has been known to teach six days per week with five classes each day.

“I don’t think I’m ever going to retire,” she says. “My age is just a number. It’s all about how you feel and live. Zumba is good for that because it’s like a party. I get e-mails from students saying that they can’t wait for the next class. So it feels good to help other people relieve their stress like I do mine.”

Moreano is also a full-time English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) teacher assistant at Fullerton Elementary, a position she finds “very rewarding.” In her spare time, she enjoys reading and tending to her garden. As a walking (and dancing) testament to the benefits of an active lifestyle, Moreano credits her clean bill of health to her on-the-go schedule. As for other Omaha seniors looking to become more active, Moreano has some advice: “Keep your mind busy but don’t take things too hard,” she says. “Try to stay positive. Try to exercise, whether it’s just walking. Do it for you. You’ve got to keep healthy and take care of yourself before you can help anyone else.”