UPPER FRUITLAND — Before he was a "Breaking Bad" actor, Jesus "Jesus Jr." Payan was a bodyguard, tattoo artist, and a rapper.
Now, the 6-foot-3-inch tall, more-than-400-pound actor has his sights on a new career: Zumba instruction. First, though, he has to try it.
The heavily tattooed Tularosa actor, known for his numerous roles as the "big, old scary gangsta," is going to participate in his first-ever Zumba class in Upper Fruitland at the end of the month, he said.
The class will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. June 28 at the Walter Collins Gym. Tickets are $10 per person.
"I would like to have my own videos eventually," Payan said.
Payan does not expect that Zumba will come easily to him, but he expects that some people might more easily relate to him because he is not a typical Zumba instructor.
"When they see my big old butt up there, struggling, but not quitting, hopefully others will keep trying," he said.
Payan accepted an invitation to try Zumba from local instructor Patrick Harris, who knows Payan through a circle of Bigfoot researchers.
Both share an interest in the paranormal and unknown, and they also are working together on a Bigfoot convention in Upper Fruitland later this year.
"Jesus Jr., he's been wanting to get in shape," said Harris, of Upper Fruitland.
A little more than a year ago, Harris received his Zumba teaching certificate. He now teaches the Latin-based dance exercise class 9-10 a.m. Monday through Friday at Kirtland Central High School in Kirtland. The classes are free of charge, though donations are encouraged.
"It makes me feel good to see people with a smile on their face, having fun, but also getting in shape," Harris said.
He invited Payan to join him for one of the classes, knowing that Payan has been wanting to get in shape, and knowing that the actor could help draw more participants.
Proceeds contributed from participants will go toward travel expenses for Harris, who hopes to go to Orlando, Fla., later this year to receive additional certifications at a Zumba convention.
For Payan, he expects the Upper Fruitland Zumba class to be the first of many.
"I would like to travel around to Zumba classes in New Mexico," Payan said.
Recently, he became especially interested in exercising after he co-starred with actor Mark Wahlberg in a to-be-released film, "2 Guns." Wahlberg told Payan that he needed to get in better shape to help his health.
"He was really concerned about my weight. He was like, 'You're going to die, man,'" Payan said.
He hopes to turn his weight around, despite having asthma and flat feet. Payan also suffered gunshot wounds to his legs during a security job.
"I'm excited. I love dancing, and music makes me want to move," he said.
Jenny Kane covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Jenny_Kane on Twitter.