Fitness in Kampala: ZUMBA


If you’re anything like me, one of your first complaints upon getting settled here in Kampala was: “How am I supposed to keep my hot, trim bod in shape?!” Okay. Well, maybe that’s a bit of a vain stretch but I’m sure, at some point, we’ve all longed for our workout routines from home. All of a sudden, you land in Africa and those affordable gyms, endless variety of fitness classes, and heck– clean sidewalks or trails to run on– are now a thing of the past.

Maybe you’re even further deranged and thought that you’d simply lose weight by living in Africa. “Yeah, but I’m moving to Africa, so I’m bound to lose a few pounds, right?”  The truth is, whether you’re actively growing your own garden or putting back three bowls of matooke a day, staying in shape still involves getting into a workout routine.

That’s where I come in. My new series of articles will highlight fitness classes around Kampala. I’ll take one for the team, spare you the time, and do the homework for you. Don’t get me wrong: This is mostly about you, but it is kiiiinda about me, too! You see, I’m that girl. I’m the queen of workout excuses and use distance, weather, traffic, lack of knowledge, etc. to get out of working out! My goal through this fitness series is to find the best classes that Kampala has to offer and wipe out all of your fitness-related excuses so that everyone can get fit doing a workout they enjoy.

So, let’s kick off this fitness series with my personal favorite: ZUMBA!

I’m still shocked by how many people have never heard of this calorie-burning treasure of a workout. Zumba is a dance fitness program created by Colombian dancer and choreographer Alberto “Beto” Perez during the 1990s that is gaining momentum and popularity as it continues to spread internationally. It’s a fitness class that uses Latin-inspired and International dance styles to essentially dance your body into shape!

Here’s how it works: the instructor choreographs various routines for you so that one minute you’re dancing the Salsa and, by the next song, you’re dropping it like it’s hot to a hip-hop tune. You’re guaranteed a great cardio workout and are sure to sweat through your tank top. The best part? You won’t even realize how hard you’re working because you’ll be having so much fun. With a motto like–“Ditch the Workout. Join the Party!” –I don’t know why anyone would want to miss out on the fun.

In comes Kathy Monty. She’s the best thing to happen to the Zumba community in Kampala, which should be obvious by her packed classrooms three nights a week. She leads her Zumba classes at Kabira Country Club in Bukoto on Monday, Thursday, and Friday nights from 6:15-7:15 p.m., but don’t be surprised if you’re still dancing a few minutes past the hour-long class. If everyone’s having a good time, she’ll just play a few more songs! The cost is 15,000 UGX per class and I find it to be a great value.  In addition, the music starts playing about ten minutes before class and the truly ambitious arrive early to stretch and fit in a few crunches and push-ups. (I secretly think it’s because they want to nab the good mirror spots!)

Now, men—while I realize that a classroom full of women in tight dance clothes sounds like a dream to you, I’m sorry to say that this particular class is for women only. Not only is the choreography geared towards women, there’s an unspoken intention that a Zumba classroom should be a place where women of all shapes and sizes can come and feel comfortable about their bodies and confident in their dance moves.

The crowd consists of an equal mix of expats and Ugandan women, ages 16-55. There’s also a great mix of skill level. Some women that are “regulars” know all the moves but there are always a few newbies that awkwardly try their best to keep up. Bottom line: this class is fun for women of all levels. No one is watching you, because all eyes are on Kathy as she leads the routines! The environment is upbeat and tons of fun.

Just a few last things to note: you must wear shoes (no bare feet allowed), it’s handy to have a water bottle and towel, and arrive a few minutes early to get a good spot.

Perhaps my one piece of bad news in this entire article is that Kathy will be on holiday for a month this summer. Her classes will resume on July 22nd, so put it on your calendar. I hope to see you there!

In conclusion, I highly recommend Kathy Monty’s Zumba class at Kabira Country Club. I’ll be honest. One of my shameless side-goals for living in Uganda is to learn and master some serious dance moves to add to my repertoire! In the coming weeks, I’ll be reviewing other types of fitness classes around town and am more than open to your ideas. You can reach me at

What: ZUMBA – Led by Kathy Monty
Location: Kabira Country Club: 63, Old Kira Road, Bukoto
Phone: 0312 227222
Times: Monday, Thursday, Friday nights from 6:15 – 7:15pm
Cost: 15,000 UGX

About Lauren McBride

Hey, I’m Lauren. I’m what you’d call an “expat by marriage.” When my husband and I stepped off the plane in Entebbe in June 2012, I had no idea what I was in for: the breezy traffic on the open road, enjoyable boda rides through the heart of town, or the gentle, lingering smell of exhaust blowing in my face. I continue to be amazed by the strong community in Kampala, the arts, the delicious food, and the fun hangs around this town. I’m committed to sharing the very best of Kampala with you through this website. Contact me anytime with your ideas, feedback, or jokes at