Staff Spotlight: Troy Donato

by Lisa Maguire

Six years ago, Troy Donato experienced a life-changing injury: he broke his hand playing tennis, his life-long passion and sport of choice. Troy had played tennis for 12 years and it had always been his main form of exercise. He played in High School, (after being cut from the soccer team, he laughed), and then played for West Chester University.

While out of commission, he realized that he needed to get off the couch and stay moving. Enter Musulain Toomer, HAC Zumba Instructor, and Zumba enthusiast. Troy took a class and was immediately hooked. He’d never danced before, and jokes that his moves in those initial classes were probably a “sight to see,” but that was the most amazing thing to him – the class was so fun, so energetic, and so engaging, he was instantly hooked.

Troy found himself attending classes more and more often, and making more and more friends – he says he couldn’t imagine his life without Jen Palacio, the pal from class that encouraged him to become an instructor. “I don’t consider myself a dancer,” he remembers, “so the thought of becoming a Zumba instructor was intimidating. There are some moves that I just can’t physically do, but I’ve learned over time, that’s okay.”

There are a lot of things that go along with becoming an instructor, not only do you have to learn moves, but a lot of Zumba instructors come up with their own moves that match their followers’ ability levels and interests. Additionally, what makes an instructor truly stand out is their ability to provide a sense of “life and party” to the class. Troy found himself being pulled to the front of classes more and more often, and before he knew it, his instructors were encouraging him to get certified after only three months of taking classes! “I was not a very good instructor when I started. It took a great deal of practice and hard work –  I considered quitting many times because I felt like I was not getting it. It was the encouragement of many instructors at HAC that keep me working hard until I got more confident.”

For Troy, Zumba was an entirely new extended family – even though he’s now a part-time head college tennis coach at Wilmington University and a part-time assistant tennis professional at DuPont Country Club, he still finds time to teach at HAC, another gym, and participate in special events like the Chinese Festival, which he’s led the Zumba fun since 2018! “I love the energy of the class,” Troy beams, “I leave happy, and it makes my day to make others happy in the same way.”

Troy is exuberant and excitable – a glowing part of the HAC Group Fitness team. His favorite part is that everyone moves differently, and Zumba is about getting the moves in, not necessarily getting them perfect. If you’ve never taken a class with him – or by him – you’re truly missing out. He’s recently started teaching the Tuesday 10:30 am class – come join the party!


Hockessin Athletic Club opened its doors on June 10 2007. Boasting over 100,000 sq. ft., a 5-pool aquatics complex, and over 200+ weekly group and aqua fitness classes, it is Delaware's premier fitness destination. 100 Fitness Way, Hockessin, DE ·

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