My Daughter, My Role Model

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She Helped Me Find a New Career

Karen Paxton, 46
Rachel Paxton, 19
Ames, Iowa

In her tiny dorm room at Brigham Young University in Utah, Rachel Paxton pushes all the furniture against the wall, then Skypes her mother, Karen Paxton, in Ames, Iowa. With Karen watching via webcam, Rachel performs an entire four-minute Zumba routine she's just learned. Within a week, Karen will be demonstrating the same moves in the Zumba classes she teaches at a health club in Ames. "Our system is kind of ridiculous," says Rachel, "but it works."

Karen is used to following her daughter's lead when it comes to this Latin dance–inspired workout. She first got hooked on Zumba in December 2009 when Rachel dragged Karen to a free class at a local rec center. Karen found the moves surprisingly easy, so when their health club began offering Zumba workouts, she and Rachel signed up for a class. "My daughter throws herself into it, so you can't stand next to her and do it halfway," Karen says.

What Rachel didn't know was that Karen had always dreamed about being a fitness instructor. "But I didn't know how to enter that whole world," she says. "I'm not exactly a size 4." So she was thrilled when, a month after her first class, her Zumba teacher asked if she'd consider training as an instructor. "When I told Rachel, she said, 'You have to do it!'" Karen began teaching just after dropping Rachel off at college last fall; now Rachel Skypes almost every week with dance moves. Karen loves her new job. "I am so happy," she says, "and I would never have done this without Rachel's telling me that I am not too old, too curvy, or too frumpy to follow a dream."

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