Community Dance Aerobics in the Galapagos

Galapagos Culture, Santa Cruz Island, Things to Do

Finding Dance Aerobics in the Galapagos

Have you ever heard of bailoterapia

Literally, Bailoterapia translates to “dance-therapy.” I experienced this fun form of exercise on my Galapagos vacation.

What is Bailoterapia?

To Ecuadoreans, Bailoterapia means doing latin-dance inspired aerobics to the sounds of reggaeton, salsa, and cumbia. To me, bailoterapia is a fun way of getting off the beaten path in the Galapagos, and sweating off my hotel’s huge lunch buffet.

I walked into the big gymnasium in El Coliseo in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz. The crowd was all ages – women and their kids running around the gymnasium, teenagers, older women, and a couple men. I was dressed like a typical tourist in khaki pants with a huge dSLR camera. People stopped their stretching just to stare at me.

I took my place in the back…..way in the back. The instructor took the stage and started the warm-up. People turned their attention away from the weird Chinese girl in the back and focused on the exercise. Once we were all warmed up the instructor started the salsa, we all started sweating, and even some of the women smiled at me!

By the end of the hour, I had learned a couple new moves, sweated out a bucket, and danced to everything from Marc Anthony to Shakira to Wisin & Yandel. I would give a fair warning that the class is 100% in Spanish, but even if you don’t speak a word of Spanish, I think watching and imitating will get you pretty far. Overall, bailoterapia was a blast, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get off the beaten path in the Galapagos and see the non-touristy side of Puerto Ayora.

Bailoterapia (latin dance aerobics) in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos

About the Bailoterapia program

The aerobics classes are sponsored by the government of Ecuador in major cities. The classes are free for the community, and held daily Monday-Friday in hundreds of parks across Ecuador.

The program is called “Ecuador Ejercitate!” or “Ecuador exercise!” and is sponsored by the government of Ecuador to help its citizens stay healthy and combat obesity. The program was founded in 2012, with a $6.5 M investment to initiate classes in 278 points in the country.

How to get to Bailoterapia

As of today, the classes in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz island are held 7-8pm Monday-Friday in the big auditorium “El Coliseo.”  From downtown Puerto Ayora, it is easy to catch a taxi in the street. Entrance is free! If you are traveling in mainland Ecuador as part of your vacation, you can usually find a nearby bailoterapia class in parks in major cities and many towns as well. Just ask a friendly local.

Have fun and happy dancing! 

The door to the gymnasium “El Coliseo” where the community dance aerobics are held

Meet the Author

Lisa Cho is an expat living in Ecuador, originally from San Francisco, California. She writes about the Galapagos Islands on this site and about her mainland Ecuador adventures on

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