Saturday, August 30, 2014

On Patience (and an ironic epiphany)

I cooked up the first part of this post while I was running last night, somewhere around mile 3 of my planned 9 mile long training run: If you're a group ex instructor, you probably have some Type A characteristics: you're task-oriented, organized, and motivated to meet your goals. And if you're a dancer, forget it - I bet you thrive on routine and precision! But, fitness really requires a level of patience and flexibility, doesn't it? Some classes feel great and other times I'm ready for a nap 40 minutes in. Sometimes it takes me months of listening to a song before I can get my body to do what I want to it. In the world of fitness, it isn't always a straight line to success.

I'll use my half marathon training as an example of how I'm trying to move past my Type A tendencies. When it came to developing a training plan for the race (which is in 5 short weeks - holy cow!), I sketched out an idea of what I would do to prepare, with one long run each week of increasing mileage until the week before the big day. I looked at training calendars and various "methods," but I decided I couldn't force a plan. I wouldn't be able to randomly go away for the weekend with the husband or spend all afternoon at a Jam Session if I had a strict schedule. 

Ok, at this point of mentally writing this post I'm at mile 4.5 of 9. Cue the irony.

Wait, ouch, what's that? My left hamstring is tight. Ok - pull over, stretch, keep going. Hmm, wait a second, my stomach is cramping. Did I drink enough water? Shoot. Damn. Ouch! Did it just get hotter out here? Ignore. Ignore. Ign-damn!
There I was, mentally writing a post about being flexible and listening to your body, hobbling because my leg and stomach were begging me to stop running and I insisted on continuing. I finally called the husband and asked him to pick me up, and I was really aggravated.

A little more reflecting and a hot shower, and I realized we really do need to be flexible when pushing our bodies. Not every run, or every class, or every whatever-workout-you do is going to go as planned. It takes time and hard work, and a lot of self-forgiveness, to change your body and achieve your goals. And that's OK.

P.S. I did the other 5 miles this morning. :)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pro-Tips for Motivation and Cuing!

Today's post comes from Reneé at Bendiful Blog.  Reneé gathered good advice from other group exercise instructors (including your truly!) to help answer the age-old question of how to best motivate students to work hard and go the distance in class. 

According to Reneé, "one of the biggest struggles in being a group instructor is cueing and knowing what to say."  You might recall when I wrote about my own struggle to use Zumba-style visual cues while saving enough energy to make it through the whole class.  Reneé's post provides some good ideas for verbal cues and motivation that are more interesting than the usual "good job!".

For lots of good advice, read the full post here!

The Z Beat: In Case You Missed It (#TBT)

This blog is almost a month old, and it dawned on me that many of you just found it in the last week or two. In honor of Throwback Thursday, this is the story of The Z Beat, complete with links to every single post so far (including the early ones, when I was basically talking to myself).

After welcoming readers to my brand spanking new blog, to get to know each other I shared why I hated my first Zumba Fitness class and some other confessions about myself. I told you about my two training experiences - B1 and Aqua - and what I do to workout when I'm not Zumba-ing (hint: running and lifting!). I also shared some of my fave choreo from YouTube and some celeb inspiration.

I try not to be too know-it-all-ish (because, I don't!) but I have shared some thoughts on teaching - both supporting students to get the best possible workout and some tips for instructors. I also gave you my take on ZIN CD 52.

While some of you were at convention, the rest of us celebrated #ZBEATCON, a virtual convention that encouraged us to push ourselves and connect with others. Peggy won our first giveaway!

I've tried to make you laugh, with my list of Zumba Fouls, some funny memes, and the What Kind of Zumba Instructor Are You? quiz (answer: mostly Queen Latinas). We really shared a good e-chuckle over What a Zumba Instructor Says versus Thinks.

The best part of this blog so far has been sharing your stories. Christine, Jacqueline, Extreme Weight Loss's Charita (who wrote me the nicest note!), and Amy's stories were really powerful.  (Get ready for more AMAZING stories coming soon!) I also shared Judy's brilliant fix for a music fail and my experience at Michele's awesome Jam™ Session.

It's been a great month! Please send me your feedback and keep readin'. :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Insider Advice: Instructor Do's and Don'ts

This is what I imagine the Zumba police look like. Photo credit: NPR
Ok, ok, I know - I'm not the Zumba Fitness police. But, some of my students were chatting me up after class the other day, telling me what they like and don't like about different classes. Their insider advice is too good to keep to myself! Feel free to add your thoughts below or on Facebook so we can learn from each other.

Do: Know your audience.
Some groups will want more dance than fitness, others more fitness than dance. Some come to your class for a booty-shakin', chest-poppin' good time, and others just want to be able to follow along and get a good workout. Read the crowd, and choreograph accordingly.

Don't: Make it about nailing moves the way you do.
Not everyone dances like an extra from Step Up 2, and we're not there to make people feel bad about themselves. Always build in progressions so participants have a choice and can follow you at their own level.

Do: Teach.
Sounds obvious, but students tell me they like it when the instructor occasionally explains things, like what muscle group you're working or how to modify a move.

Don't: Focus on yourself.
Its all about you when you take other instructors' classes, but when you're leading a class it has to be about the participants. You want to make sure they're safely navigating the routines and having fun! I hear they can tell when you stare at yourself in the mirror, so it's something to be mindful of.

Do: Remember to have fun!
Your energy is contagious. When you're tired or having a rough day, ya know - FITYMI (fake it 'til you make it!).

Don't: Worry.
We all make mistakes and most of the time we're our own worst critics. Your class is there because they like you and they're more forgiving than you think.

What other Do's and Don'ts have you picked up?

Review: Jam™ Session with ZJ candidate Michele Pome!

On Sunday, 8/24 I went my second Jam™ Session (first one was with this lovely lady!).  There are two types: choreography, where you learn 4 songs plus a bonus song (more on that below), and rhythm, where you learn a lot about a particular type of music (e.g., cumbia) plus two choreographed songs.  This was a choreography session.  After the first one I participated in, I had new songs I could immediately put in my playlist - they break them down and you're pretty much ready to teach them when you walk out the door... so I was excited for my second session!

Here are 5 takeaways from Michele's Jam™ Session:

1. A prepared Jammer is a good Jammer. When we walked in, we got the choreography notes as well as a goodie bag with the essentials: a granola bar, hair tie, mints, etc. It was a nice touch! More importantly, she knew her stuff when it came to the music and routines!

2. You get a great variety of music. Michele included salsa, cumbia, tango, and dem bow (in the reggaeton family). There was something for everyone. She also pulled songs from new-ish Zumba mega mix CDs which was helpful because the CDs were still on the top of the stack, but I hadn't yet had a chance to choreograph most of them! I probably wouldn't have picked the tango off of a ZIN CD, but I'll totally use it now.

3. Jam™ Sessions help you get out of your own head. If you've been putting the same old sleepy leg in all of your songs, it's time to get to a jam - stat! Lots of new ideas to go around, whether you use the choreography exactly as it was taught to you or not.

4. It's a good excuse to shake what yo mama gave ya. If you're only teaching classes and not taking any, you're missing out on an opportunity to focus on you (which you shouldn't be doing while you're teaching) and get a good workout.  A Jam™ Session is like the ultimate master class - but it helps your practice as an instructor, too.

5. There are Pitbull songs I still don't know. How is that possible? Michele used one for her ZJ tip, which is a bonus song that uses the same choreography you already learned in a slightly different way. 

Thank you, Michele!

Have you been to a Jam™ Session? What did you think?

Monday, August 25, 2014

ZINspiration Monday: Amy Tippett

Today's ZINspiration comes from Amy Tippett of Grove City, Ohio. She lost over 80 pounds, 21 of which fell off after she found Zumba. Here's her story in her own words.

In 2006, I reached my all time highest weight - my face was covered in acne and I was having all kinds of health problems. I went to the doctor for some tests and she diagnosed me with polycystic ovarian syndrome. She told me I needed to lose weight or my symptoms could get worse and it would lead to more health problems. That was my wake up call! I told myself I didn't care how long it took, I would lose the weight.

I joined a women-only gym and after a whole year, I only lost 15 pounds. I would workout like crazy but I had no idea how to eat right. That's when my doctor suggested Weight Watchers. In January 2008, I started WW and I truly believe it saved my life! WW taught me how to eat right for the rest of my life. It was a slooooow process... but I reached my goal weight in 2010 and became a WW employee.

In 2011, my life was turned upside down. My dad got diagnosed with cancer and passed away, and shortly thereafter my aunt, Grandma and 2 friends also passed, all within 5 months. I gained 17 pounds back because I just didn't care anymore. Luckily, since I work for WW, I had a lot of people that helped me realize I had worked too hard to go backward. I wasn't quite sure how to get my passion back for exercise and being healthy.

My friend Kathy invited me to a Zumba Fitness class. One class was all it took for all that passion I had for exercise and living healthy to come back! Of course, I became a regular in that class and started going to other classes in my area. I lost 21 pounds and several inches. Here I am, a year and a half later, and I've become a Zumba instructor! I have the greatest jobs ever!!

It took me so long to lose my weight that I never thought I would reach my goal but I did... and you can too!! I was so nervous before that first Zumba class, but as soon as I got in there, I realized it was no big deal. Zumba students and instructors are like one big family! We're all there for the same goal... to live healthier lives. There's no judging... everyone is there to dance and have fun.

Thank you, Amy! Has anyone else met a weight loss goal through Zumba? Let's hear your stories!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Show Must Go On!

Today’s post comes from Judy Davenport, an Australian ZIN who had this very funny, go-with-the-flow, ah-ha moment when recently teaching an Aqua Zumba class.  Here it is in her words.
Currently Being Moderate

8.30am Sunday – a ZIN colleague sends me a text: “I’m really sorry for the early morning message, but I’ve got severe hip pain and can't move.  Any chance you could cover my 9.30am Aqua Zumba class?”

I jump out of bed and reply, “Yep.  Can do. I’ll get ready now”.

I’ve never taught at this club before, so we exchange a few more messages about which side of the pool I’m to set up on and where the speaker/PA system is stored and that I’ll need to supply my own iPod connection cable.  No problem. 

Then there’s this message: “A few weeks ago there was an issue with a cable that was snapped and lodged in the stereo … I hope they fixed it”.  Hmm.

9.00 am – I arrive at the health club and gradually find everything I need.  Sure enough, the metal jack is still firmly lodged in the speaker socket and there’s no way I can connect my iPod to it.  I race back home and grab an adaptor for the socket that requires a larger diameter jack.

9.20am – I'm back at the club and try the other connections (the other jack socket, even the USB port), but no luck.  Reception staff can't help me and time is marching on.

9.30am – I turn to the 15 or so expectant faces in the pool and say, “Good morning everyone.  My name is Judy and I’m covering for Milan who is out with a hip injury.  Now, we have a slight technical problem.  So we have a couple of options … we can regretfully cancel the class … or I can dash home and get my own stereo, but that will cause a 15-minute delay.” 

The class members come up with a 3rd option.  “No problem,” they say, “We’ll just do it without music!”

“Ok,” I say, “If you’re happy to give that a go, then so am I.”

I then add, “I tell you what, I’ll put the iPod on and have the music playing in my earphones so at least that way, we’ll keep to the beat.  How’s that?”  “Great!” they reply.  So off we go.

One or two songs in I think to myself, “Well, this can’t be all that motivating for the people in the class,” ... so I start SINGING the playlist (Tu Boca, Como Le Gusta A Tu Cuerpo, Guillao De Loko, El Baile Del Pirulino, La Nina Fresa).

As I’m going along, I realise that quite a few of the other songs are in English, so I get the class to sing along with me. 

We do: “Blame It On The Boogie”, “Great Balls of Fire”, “Delilah”, “Livin’ La Vida Loca” and cool down to “Quando, Quando, Quando”.  By the end of the class, they’re all singing, laughing, applauding and having a great time – as am I.

They were so gracious and lovely and said how much they enjoyed the class, that they really DID get a workout and how much they appreciated my efforts under very difficult circumstances.  Nobody complained directly about my off-key singing, which was very kind of them.  I can only imagine how torturous listening to that must have been!

Judy has since returned to the same class with back-up CDs, extra cables, and a lot of patience.  This story originally appeared in the ZIN Community Forum and is reposted here with Judy’s permission.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

ZIN CD 52!

There's nothing like getting new Zumba music in the mail - especially when it's a DVD month! I always make sure to listen to the songs a few times before I pass judgment.  Now that I've listened and watched, here are my thoughts.

  • La Chapiadora (merengue): Merengues are meant to be fast, and this one is FAST. I'd like to think of myself as a quick learner when it comes to dance moves, but I felt kind of silly trying to do some of the moves from the live class - either it's too fast or I'm not as cool as I think I am.

  • Mulata de Platino (reggaeton): I thought this song was OK until I watched the choreo... and then I felt in love with it! Songs that include the destroza have a special place in my heart. I recommend the song and the moves from the live class.

  • My Heart in the Beat (electro-Latin): I'm a big fan of Mara, but this choreo felt very similar to Crazy Love. It's good for a class of beginners or as a slower paced song for the purpose of intermittent training.

  • Bailando (flamenco-reggaeton): Did I gasp out loud when I heard track #4? Yes, yes I did. Every time I hear this song in the car I make up moves in my head. I love it. The choreo is just fine but there are a million moves you could do to this song. I never, ever do the machete but I think it fits perfectly in the chorus!

  • El Serrucho (cumbia): I'm a Cumbiaholic, so naturally I liked this song. The choreo is good, but a word of caution - it's not class tested! They do a sleepy leg around in a circle and I just know even the best of classes would get lost, facing backwards and not knowing what to do.

  • La Luz (tribal): This was one of those songs that I liked a lot more after watching the DVD. The song is high energy and you could tell the crowd was really enjoying themselves.

  • Tanto (electro-bachata): Good song with some cute variations on old moves (there's a turning knee lift I really liked). There's also a body roll section, which I like (work that core!) but my classes always groan when I use them in my choreo. :)

  • Dale Fuego (calypso dance): Love. It's hard to go wrong with a Calypso song and the choreo from the live class is super fun.

  • Descarga de la Luz (salsa): I love salsa, but it takes a lot to get me excited about a salsa song until I've heard it quite a few times (like the songs I grew up with!). The instructor from the live class has a lot of swag, which made it fun. It's a good, basic salsa song and you can do a lot with it!

So, what did you think?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cheating on Zumba (aka Crosstraining) Part 2: Lifting and Bikram Yoga

In Cheating, Part 1 I shared why I run and how it helps improve my Zumba practice. Today, I'll tell you a bit about the other ways I work out.

Lifting: there's nothing more satisfying than repeatedly lifting heavy things and putting them down - really! I love feeling strong and seeing increased definition in my muscles. If you have concerns about lifting, never fear - you won't bulk up (unless you want to) and you can start small. Two key pieces of advice: 1) Don't bother with the machines that isolate small muscle groups; stick to dynamic moves with free weights that use multiple muscle groups at a time, and 2) Talk to a trainer or use a web resource before you start lifting so you learn proper form. In the end, lifting will help you do more in your Zumba classes, strengthening your core and other muscles needed to be the best dancer you can be.

Bikram Yoga: Yes, this is the form of yoga in a hot room. Like, really hot. So hot that every time I go to take a class, I spend the first 5 minutes trying to come up with an escape route out of the room. You get used to it over the course of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises, and the warm temperature creates more flexibility in your joints and muscles for bigger, deeper yoga poses. Advocates of this form of yoga also say it helps detox the body and offers a range of other health benefits, but I'd say the jury is still out. For me, it's an intense workout (I get bored in regular yoga) and I go back to Zumba feeling more flexible than I was before.

What workouts do you do to balance out your Zumba practice?

The Internet is funny...

And clever. And inspiring. Here are a few of my favorite memes (for which I take no credit!). 


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Zumba-ing with the Stars

I'm not big on celebrity gossip or fanfare. I really think they're just like the rest of us, except that they have a profession which earns them both a lot of money and a lot of scrutiny. That's why I love these stories about celebs who use Zumba as a way to stay healthy and stay grounded - just like we do!

Jordin Sparks: Jordin is best known for her beautiful voice. Unfortunately, the immediate attention she received from American Idol wasn’t all good; some media outlets picked on her for her weight. According to Fit Sugar, Jordin lost around 50 pounds by changing her diet and – you guessed it – taking Zumba classes! She and her mom enjoy taking Zumba classes together, making her regular work-out a fun family event.

Kirstie Alley: Best known for her yo-yo dieting, Kirstie Alley found a love for dance through Zumba that pre-dated her appearance on Dancing with the Stars. Bonus fact: according to Shape mag, her sister is a fellow ZIN member!

Jennifer Lopez: Before she was Jenny from the Block, Jennifer Lopez got her start on In Living Color as a fly girl, dancing between skits and before commercial breaks (see below for a clip of her kickin' it 90s style!).  Couple her dance experience with her Puerto Rican roots, and I bet she’s a natural! She told Red Book, "As women… we take care of a lot of people, and we can't forget to take care of ourselves. If that means once a week you're going to go off without the kids or without anybody and just go shoe shopping…  or join a Zumba class, or take a painting class, or whatever, you've just got to do it.” Zumba is my way of getting me-time too, J-Lo!

Madonna: She’s in amazing shape, and she has been since before she made it big. Madonna started out as a broke dancer in NYC; now she can pay for any dance class she wants! Her choice? Zumba. Her style? I don’t know, but I bet she can do any fitness variation she wants! (Push-ups mid-samba? No problem.) Reports suggest Madonna’s Hard Candy gyms host quite a few Zumba classes, given Madge’s affinity for them.

Monday, August 18, 2014

ZINspiration Mondays: Charita Smith of ABC's Extreme Weight Loss

Photo credit:
Charita Smith was a mother in her early 30s who didn’t have time to take care of herself. At her heaviest, she carried 310 pounds on her 5’7” frame. After a failed audition for The Biggest Loser, she tried out for ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss – and her journey to better health began.

Charita told Women’s Health Magazine that the show had her working out for 4 hours a day, including running, circuit training, swimming, and hiking. When she tried Zumba, she said, "It made my body feel sexy, strong, fun, and flirty… like I was moving parts of my body that I hadn't moved in a long time. I found muscles that I hadn't been using before." 

Charita’s trainers Chris and Heidi Powell (a fitness power couple!) recognized her love of dance and knew Zumba would be a great way for her to get in shape while having fun. All three of them got their B1 certification on the show. Chris Powell said Zumba also gave Charita a way to earn income while squeezing cardio in – a bonus that many of us rely on!

In the end, Charita found a workout routine that she loved and that fit her lifestyle in Zumba. She also made significant changes to her diet, cutting portions and adding fresh, healthy foods. She lost 150 pounds on the show and continues to be an inspiration for others.
If you didn't catch her at the convention this year, you can find her on Facebook, or watch the full episode of Extreme Weight Loss for more of Charita's inspirational story!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Following #ZINCON2014

In the spirit on #ZBeatCon, I plugged into the convention via Twitter last night. Here are some of my favorite tweets from Orlando! (Don't forget, you have until Sunday at 8pm to enter to win a Z Beat swag bag full of Zumba goodies! Just let me know how you're getting into the convention spirit from home using the hash tag #ZBeatCon.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Celebrating #ZBeatCon (and giveaway sneak peak!)

In case you missed it, #ZBeatCon is a way for all ZINs to participate in the spirit of the convention, even if you can't be there in person. Click here for more details. This week, we're connecting, learning, practicing, and enjoying Zumba together and I'm inspired already.

I've done three things so far in the #ZBeatCon spirit. First, I subbed a class. It was my first time subbing in a gym where I didn't already know the members, so it stretched my comfort level. I had to sell myself as a teacher, convince them they'd love Zumba (it's usually a piloxing class!), and maintain my energy despite the ancient stereo that kept skipping my CD, which I burned just in case my iPod wouldn't work (it didn't). It felt good to do something new and adapt my style to a new group of students.

I also debuted a new reggaeton song in my class. I love the energy that naturally comes with a new song.  t was Bambalam by General Degree, and it was a major hit!

Lastly, I investigated some new dance pants - I have a major issue finding ones that I'm comfortable in (do they all have to be SO tight?). I've narrowed it down to these, these, and these. This may seem silly, but I never treat myself to anything and part of #ZBeatCon is giving ourselves the tools we need to improve as instructors... and I need me some pants!

Don't forget - participating in #ZBeatCon gives you a chance to win a Z Beat Swag Bag (details here)! Here's a hint at what the lucky winner might take home. :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Let's do this: #ZBeatCon (and GIVEAWAY!)

I am so, SO bummed that I can't go to the Zumba convention in Orlando this week. I was super close to registering, but decided I couldn't swing both the convention and a family vacation in the same week... and family vacation won (hi, mom!).

I hemmed and hawed about what to post today... then it hit me. The purpose of the convention is to improve your practice and network with other ZINs, right? And you can do that from anywhere, RIGHT?

Connect, learn, grow, and celebrate your ZINness in honor of the convention, from where ever you are! Between now and Sunday, #ZBeatCon is your way to participate. Below are some ideas for ways you can get involved - but the possibilities are endless. Use the hashtag #ZBeatCon on Facebook or Twitter to share how you're participating and inspire others!
  • Dust off your B1 DVD and perfect your technique
  • Scour YouTube to find new choreo, like these awesome numbers
  • Do a special class for your regulars - like a 90 minute master class or a playlist of all pop songs
  • Dance along to some clips from previous conferences, like these from  Pitbull and Mara
  • Sign up for a local ZJ's Jam Session
  • Splurge on a gift for yourself from the Zumba shop (and use affiliate code TheZBeat to get 10% off!)
  • Participate in a new class and get to know a fellow ZIN
  • Watch ZIN TV and share your favorite clips
Need one more reason to participate? One lucky #ZBeatCon participant will be selected to win a Z Beat Swag Bag! Just tweet or post on Facebook about how you're participating by 8pm EST on Sunday, and be sure you don't delete your post before then. (See the fine print below.)

PS - Follow me @TheZBeat for updates on #ZBeatCon!
PPS - If you're physically going to the convention, I'm really happy for you, I swear. Check out this article from Z Life for tips on having a great convention. Have a great time!

The fine print: No purchase necessary. To participate, use the hashtag #ZBeatCon on 
Facebook or Twitter by 8/17 at 8pm EST. Each participant receives one entry, regardless of the number of times he/she uses the hashtag. All participants will be assigned a random number and a winning number will be selected using Winners may live anywhere, but must produce a valid address for shipment. The Z Beat is not responsible for lost or deleted entries, and will make final decisions regarding disputes. Winner will be notified by Facebook or Twitter by 8/20. 



Photo Credit:
I started The Z Beat as a way for ZINs to connect, share a laugh, and inspire each other - ZINs for whom Zumba might be a passion or a source of extra income, people who have a "regular" job, people who struggle with their weight or need extra motivation to workout from time to time (yes, ZINs struggle, too!). 

This blog isn't about me. But, I'm guessing it would be more interesting if you knew a little about me... so here you go:

  • I have a full time desk job and a PhD. People who know the professional me rarely believe that I'm a Zumba instructor - I'm pretty serious about my work. Anybody else get that?
  • I lost about 30 pounds in my early 20s and have kept it off for over a decade (give or take the same 5 pounds that come and go). They say weight loss is 20% exercise and 80% what you eat, but for me exercise is critical - it's my gateway drug to eating well. I will count calories if I feel myself going off track. 
  • I was big into dance as a kid. Becoming a Zumba instructor as an adult made me feel like I had found my place in the dance world and that I could continue to do what I loved as a grown up! 
  • I'm half Puerto Rican, and half Polish/Austrian/Russian. You can't really tell what I "am" just from looking at me, which I think is kind of fun. More on this in a future post.
  • I have an awesome, supportive husband who absolutely hates to dance. I know he loves me because he'll do a merengue with me every once in a while - like when Suavemente comes on at a wedding. Pretty much only when Suavemente comes on at a wedding. And if cocktails are involved.

I have something exciting to announce tomorrow for all the folks who can't make it to the convention this week. Stay tuned!

Monday, August 11, 2014

ZINspiration Mondays: Jacqueline Gikow

This week's ZINspiration comes from Jacqueline Gikow, a new ZIN member who is 67 and says, "Living well shows that you can be fit as you age."

Jacqueline with her hairdresser - check out her color streaks!
Year of Zumba certification:  2014
My three favorite songs for Zumba right now are:  Waka Waka, Zumbao, Knee Deep (feat. Jimmy Buffett)
The funniest thing that ever happened while teaching was: My first teaching experience. I was like a deer in headlights. I totally forgot the songs, the steps and all my choreo. Luckily, the class was really supportive and I have improved since then.
Zumba has impacted me by: Helping me to have an active outlook, providing me with new friends and letting me help others achieve a healthy lifestyle.
My best advice for new ZIN members is: Exercise patience. It takes a while to build your practice. Take advantage of the ZIN membership benefits and have fun!
Other things you should know about me are: I specialize in Zumba Gold and Aqua Zumba. I currently teaching private classes at the Christopher Residence in Chelsea, NY.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Zumba Fouls

What would happen if your Zumba class had a referee?

Photo credit:

Off-Tempo Clapping
It’s actually 1-2, 1-2-3.
Penalty: Sorry, but you’re gonna have to snap when the rest of the class claps.

Awkward Staring
Eyes up here, buddy.
Penalty: Rotate! You’ll be finishing class from the back of the room, thankyaverymuch.

Floppy Merengue Arms
Those biceps aren’t going to tone themselves!
Penalty:  Drop and give me 20! Oh, you’d rather merengue properly? Figured.

“Singing” Along
Loud mumbling is not a substitute for knowing the words.
Penalty: Don Omar and Pitbull called; they’d like you to hum from now on.

Acting Bored
Come on, it’s a fitness fiesta!
Penalty: As many wepas! as it takes until you’re smiling like the rest of us.

Take that shimmy somewhere else, sister.
Penalty: No penalty needed – you’ll learn your lesson the next time someone “accidentally” kicks you during the charleston.

For more from the Z Beat, follow me on Facebook and Twitter!

Thanks to this website for the referee images.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Cheating on Zumba (aka, crosstraining) Part I

It's true - I've been cheating. In Part I of this two part-series, let me tell you why I run and how it helps improve my Zumba practice, too.

It's no secret that running has tons of health benefits, including reducing stress and making you happier. It's also an efficient way to burn calories when compared to biking or stair-stepping - on average, you burn about 100 calories per mile. I'm not naturally inclined to run and picked it up later in my 20s. Currently, I'm training for a half marathon in October... and let's be honest, "training" means running regularly and working my way up to being able to complete the half marathon injury-free. I don't have a master training plan or an aggressive time goal.  (For helpful training advice, check out this post from Runs for Cookies.)

How does this help my Zumba-ing, you ask?
  • Endurance. When I'm not running, I find myself getting winded or tired 45 minutes into my classes. When I am running, I'm still ready to go when it's time to cool down.

  • Confidence. Running makes me feel fit, almost instantly. This translates into better teaching in class - I can do the moves bigger and better knowing I'm physically prepared.

  • Time to think (and choreograph). The biggest gift running gives is time for you to think and relax. When I'm teaching, I have to focus - if my mind wanders I screw up the moves! Plus, when I'm running I listen to new songs and start making up the moves.
What connections do you draw between running and Zumba?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Taking the Party to the Pool

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Last week I went to my first specialty training - Aqua! I've never been into water aerobics (somehow bouncing around in a bathing suit never seemed appealing...), so I was an unlikely candidate for this certification. But, I recently signed up for a teaching vacation - more on that in a future post - and I wanted to feel comfortable teaching by land or by sea. The training was at The Club at Morristown, a beautiful facility, and was hosted by ZIN Magda Santiago who was a great mentor and source of information.

First things first - Richard Gormley. He was our ZES and he was incredibly knowledgeable and fun to work with. If you have an opportunity to train with him, take it - he's an aquacelebrity! After learning techniques and practicing choreography, the day ended with a master class - picture a group of ZINs making giant waves (us), topless dancing on the pool deck (Rich), and a lot of wondering what the heck was going on (innocent bystanders at the gym).

Here are a few things I learned, without giving away all the Aqua secrets!
  • Each of the core rhythms has Aqua modifications. The big differences are that 1) you focus more on pushing against the water (rather than jumping and lifting as we do on land) and 2) you make moves slower and use a big range of motion to get the benefits of the water's resistance.
  • Changing direction and using "resisting" arm movements make for a better workout.
  • Although you leave with 4 CDs of choreo and music, they tell you that you can use the same songs you do on land and modify them. I have mixed feelings... I'm so programmed to move in a certain way to my playlist, I wonder if it might be easier to just learn new stuff for my Aqua classes. I think I'm better at memorizing than I am at unprogramming my brain!
  • You teach from the pool deck, and you're using big, slow movements which feel great in the water but are really stinkin' hard to do on land (think standing on one foot repeatedly doing slow leg lifts in the sun or in the steam of a pool house).
  • Lastly, and most importantly, your participants are three feet underground looking up at you. All I'll say is - bathing suits + new angles = rethinking your Zumbawear choices.
I was really thrilled with the experience and would be happy to talk to anyone thinking about Aqua certification. It's a great format and was a day well-spent. Many thanks to Richard, Magda, and guest star and ZIN Jammer Diego Chuaca for a great experience!