‘Chicago Fire’ actor ain’t playin: Zumba’s his jam

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Updated: Extended #Cruzumba cut added

Cruz’s love of Zumba isn’t much of a stretch for the “Chicago Fire” actor who plays him.

Joe Minoso is a disciple of the high-energy dancercise that spawned some seriously funny moments on the last two episodes of “Chicago Fire” — as well as the hashtag #Cruzumba.

“Do it two or three times and I guarantee by the fourth time you’re hooked,” Minoso said in a phone interview Tuesday, when Firehouse 51 surprised Cruz by showing up at one of his highly Yelp-rated classes.

A certified Zumba instructor in real life, Minoso stumbled into the fitness routine in 2011 while working part-time at the athletic apparel company Lululemon in Evanston. The store encouraged employees to enroll in local exercise classes. Minoso chose Zumba, where students repeat dance moves set to the heart-pounding beat of Latin and international music.

“I was way, way in the back when the Zumba instructor came up to me and said, ‘Hey man, you’ve got to come to the front; you’re wasting your moves in the back,’ ” Minoso said.

Minoso, a stone-broke aspiring actor living in Rogers Park at the time, credits Zumba with helping him shed 60 pounds. Shortly after, the ensemble member of Teatro Vista landed a role on Starz’s Chicago-set drama “Boss.” He moved to Los Angeles in early 2012 in hopes of getting more acting work. The day his lease was approved in California, he found out he wouldn’t be staying: He got the gig on “Chicago Fire.”

Not too long ago, Minoso and some of the cast of “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago P.D.” were having dinner with producer Dick Wolf, who developed the NBC dramas. Minoso was talking about Zumba with “P.D.” star Sophia Bush. Wolf wanted to know more.

“I started explaining it to him,” Minoso said. “I said I’ve been telling these guys for two seasons that I know Zumba and wouldn’t it be funny if Cruz was a closet Zumba instructor? He thought it was hilarious and pushed it forward.”

One of Minoso’s favorite Zumba instructors, Christa South-Hamranova of Bucktown’s Dance Spa, did the choreography for the “Chicago Fire” routines. He also vouches for Maria Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel and Iida Borges.

“If you remotely like dancing and you need an excuse to get off your butt, definitely try Zumba,” said Minoso, estimating that he shreds more than 1,000 calories in an hourlong class.

While the “Fire” cast played along in Tuesday’s episode, Minoso has only roped one of his co-stars into the Zumba studio in real life: Charlie Barnett (Peter Mills), his former roommate.

“No one else has been brave enough to come with me,” Minoso said. “He hung in there like a champ. Charlie’s got moves.”

YouTube video uploaded by Erin & Jay

Barnett said he had a blast.

“I think Zumba owes Joe some money,” Barnett added. “He just bumped their stocks up.”

READ MORE: Check out the latest stories about “Chicago Fire” and more on “Chicago P.D.”

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