Wednesday, December 30, 2015

So. Pregnant.

I'm so pregnant. Like, so pregnant. I'm one day shy of 40 weeks, and somehow the days seem to be moving slower. Having lots of pre-labor symptoms (Braxton-Hicks, stuffy nose/sore throat, etc.), but no real action yet.

Here are a few random thoughts, in no particular order.

1. I took my last pregnant Zumba class at 38 weeks, and it was more fun than I thought it would be. I was worried that I would get too out of breathe but I was able to do almost everything. I say my "last" class purely because of scheduling and convenience... I actually did some Zumba on my own yesterday, checking out ZIN 60 (finally). I thought the first handful of songs were really good - love the classic choreo from Beto. Hopefully I'll check out the rest today.

2. I went for a walk yesterday and listed to a bunch of my Z songs. I was kind of worried that after not teaching for a couple of months I would forget everything. Nope, still got it, in my head at least! I'm definitely worried about learning new material with a newborn and limited brain capacity (hello, sleep deprivation!) but I hope it's not too much harder than it was pre-baby.

3. Aside from being very excited and anxious to meet our little girl, I'm really looking forward to getting back to a healthy routine. I have exercised pretty consistently throughout my pregnancy, but I miss running and setting challenging goals for myself. I miss marathon jam sessions and being able to push myself. It'll be nice to see the numbers on the scale start going on the opposite direction, too!

4.  One of my fears: not getting back into shape quickly enough to be the instructor I want to be. I worked so hard to be able to kill it for a whole hour long class, giving 150% of my energy (because let's be honest, if you only give 100% you get about 50% from your students) and doing it all with a smile on my face. I wonder how long it will take me to get back there physically, but also to have the same level of confidence in my teaching that I had before I took my body on this wild ride.

Is it just me, or can anybody relate to any of this?

Monday, December 28, 2015

Ring in the New Year with Healthy Habits

A guest post by Shelly Stinson

Sadly, statistics show that only one out of every eight people actually succeed at making their dreams a reality after setting a New Year’s resolution. While this may make you want to give up on whatever it is you want right now—whether it be weight loss, a higher level of fitness, or just better health—claiming defeat before it’s even occurred, the reality is that you can be the one in eight who makes it. How? By developing healthy habits.

As Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” In other words, if you just put some regular actions into place, this will be your year to make all of your health and fitness dreams come true. Certainly, there are many different habits that can get you there, but there are four that stand out as being extremely effective if it’s results that you’re after.

#1: Relieve Your Stress, Often

No matter what your health and fitness goal, being anxious and worried all of the time can prevent you from achieving it due to the negative consequences of too much stress (think lower immunity, more fatigue, and emotional eating). Fortunately, there are many options when it comes to regular stress relief, so all you have to do is pick the ones that are most appealing to you. For instance, some people prefer relatively low-key activities like meditating, practicing mindfulness, or talking to a friend. However, others find a great deal of stress relief in more intense physical actions such as playing sports, taking a hike, or dancing to their favorite songs. Figure out what relieves your stress best and do it. Often.

#2: Eat More Veggies

Not only are vegetables low in calories and fat (and the ones that do contain fat have the good kind), they are also loaded with a multitude of vitamins and minerals that your body’s systems need to function at optimal levels. Additionally, they help increase your energy, which is a bonus for anyone with a busy schedule. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t ever eat some of your favorites. As College News suggests, just give yourself a “Treat Day” every once in a while, eating healthfully most of the time.

#3: Make Fitness Fun

If you believe that hitting your fitness goals means spending the next 365 doing the same activity over and over again, you’re likely to give up sooner rather than later. While exercising is obviously a healthy habit to have, you also need to find a way to make fitness fun to stay motivated. Choose activities you enjoy doing and getting into shape will be more of a joy versus a dread. And if you’re not sure what activities those are, don’t be afraid to try new things like kickboxing or rock climbing. Who knows? You may just like them.

#4: Get More Sleep

The health benefits of sleep are numerous, ranging from lowering your risk of disease to helping you manage chronic pain. This makes getting enough shuteye a good habit to work toward this year if your goal is total health and wellness. So give yourself a curfew and make sure you stick to it. It also helps to create a bedtime ritual that makes you drowsy, so consider the activities that put you most at ease (like reading or a hot bath) and do them right before you go to sleep.

Do these four things and your New Year’s resolution is well within your grasp. Can’t you just feel it?

Shelly Stinson is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. When she's not writing she's usually exploring the outdoors or the Denver food scene. Follow her on Twitter: @shellystins.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Here come the resolution exercisers... Are you ready for 2016?

This post is from Melissa, a guest blogger on The Z Beat!

As 2015 comes to a close shortly, many of us take time to reflect on the year that was. I am no different.

What’s struck me this year is the many goals I achieved and the changes that happened. For instance, in January, I ran in my first half marathon in Orlando at Walt Disney World and while I didn’t finish, the confidence that even competing in it gave me propelled me to do many other things throughout the year.

In the early part of 2015, I started cardio conditioning at a local gym dedicated to spinning and found that I loved it. So much so that beginning in 2016, I will not only be teaching Zumba there, I will be getting certified to become a spin instructor myself. Additionally, I left my full-time job of more than 10 years to pursue a career in the fitness industry. It has had many ups and downs but I am happy I made the decision I did to help others achieve their health and wellness goals.

There are so many others I could list but it’s time to look forward to 2016 and the influx of new people who will no doubt be in our classes after making New Year’s resolutions. Are you ready? Here’s a few tips on how to keep those folks coming back to you and make their New Year’s resolutions a lifestyle.

1 – Be patient. Remember, they are just starting out with something new and may need a little more TLC in the beginning. If possible, “pair” them with a veteran in your class until they get used to it but try to encourage them as much as possible without setting them apart too much.

2 – Be motivating. ALL students need to hear to “keep it up” and such but newbies especially need this. In my experience, those new to exercise tend to hit the wall quicker and want to give up. Taking a moment to give them a high five or telling them they’re doing great may help push them through.

3 – Be yourself. Not much to say here but just be you. People will come back to your class because they like the way you smile or move your hips or whatever it is you do. Don’t change just because new people are in the room.

4 – Be “spontaneous.” What I mean here is that in order to put everyone on a level playing field, throw in a new song no-one knows the routine to yet or maybe a new exercise no-one has done before. Nothing will alienate someone trying out group classes more than when it seems like everyone already knows what to do and they don’t.

5 – Be prepared. Unfortunately, people who have been exercising and going to group classes for a while tend to be a little impatient when January rolls around so be prepared to hear a little complaining from your regulars about classes being more full and their “spot” on the floor being taken or the parking lot being full or whatever it may be. Just remind those folks that they were new once too and think about how they would’ve felt if some of the things they were saying were said about them in the beginning. Perspective usually helps calm them down.

6 – Be understanding. Sadly, not everyone will come back or stick to that resolution. Reach out to them once or twice if you haven’t seen them after a class or two but don’t take it personal if you don’t hear back or see them again. Everyone has their season and when they’re ready, you can always be there for them when they are.

I want to take a moment to wish everyone a happy holiday season and a prosperous 2016. Be kind to each other and stay healthy!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Zumba Memes Galore!

This post is by Dana, a guest blogger on The Z Beat!
Everyone loves a good Zumba meme! It’s a fun way to promote yourself as an instructor in addition to adding a little pizazz to your weekly class postings. Copy, share, post on Facebook and Instagram, and sprinkle them around! Have fun!
#cough #cough I am too sick to come to work, but I will see you at Zumba class!
C:\Users\E170290\Dana TWC New Computer\Misc\Zumba\sniffle sniffle.jpg

#roses are red #violets are blue I love Zumba more than I love you
C:\Users\E170290\Dana TWC New Computer\Misc\Zumba\truth.jpg

#so much to do #so little time
C:\Users\E170290\Dana TWC New Computer\Misc\Zumba\to do list.jpg

#choices #choices #choices #lookingfantastic
C:\Users\E170290\Dana TWC New Computer\Misc\Zumba\outfit.jpg
#best hour of my day #Zumba
C:\Users\E170290\Dana TWC New Computer\Misc\Zumba\hour.jpg
C:\Users\E170290\Dana TWC New Computer\Misc\Zumba\wepa.jpg
#this gal is on fiiiyyyyyah
C:\Users\E170290\Dana TWC New Computer\Misc\Zumba\fire.jpg
How do you express your ZUMBA love? We’d love to see your Zumba memes!

Monday, December 14, 2015

What Would You Do?

I giggle every time I see this video pop up on my Facebook feed (which is like, every third post right now). In case you missed it:

No rompas más mi pobre corazón me estás pegando justo entiendo......󾠙󾠙󾠙󾠙󾠙󾠙 caballo dorado saco ese baile
Posted by El Mimoso Oficial on Thursday, December 10, 2015

But, it got me thinking about new students or students who struggle to keep up with our classes. What options do we have? We can:
  • Offer more visual cues than usual to help him or her out
  • Use some verbal cues until he or she gets used to the class format
  • Ignore it
  • Kick him or her out of the room (JUST kidding. Don't send hate mail.)

Of those three options, I usually offer more verbal cues (along with visuals) than I normally would. And it's not because I mind if someone is on the wrong foot or arm - calories don't know the difference, right? But, I do worry about other students getting distracted, or worse, getting hurt because they've collided with someone sashaying in the wrong direction.

I also try to identify if the student is 1) oblivious to the fact that he or she is off, 2) aware of it but doesn't mind, or 3) frustrated by not being able to pick up the moves. The folks in group number 2 don't really need anything other than understanding peers; if they're happy, I'm happy. Group number 1 makes me nervous because that's when people can get hurt. For them, I may stand next to them for certain moves with directional changes until they catch on. And I feel for group number 3 - Zumba should be super fun, not frustrating! For this group, I exaggerate my cues and, after class (and discretely!) ask if they have any questions. Sometimes people ask me to review moves with them, which I'm always happy to do.

So, how do you handle a student gone rogue?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Tips for Sticking with Your Workout Schedule

This post is by Dana, a guest blogger on The Z Beat!
As winter approaches and the dark sets in early it is sometimes hard to get to the gym, especially after a long day at work or a long day spent with the kids. The good news is that most likely when you are done your workout you will feel INCREDIBLE and inevitably HAPPY that you made it to the gym. 
Need a little help actually getting to the gym? Read on…

Some Helpful Tips to Get You to the Gym:
  • Pack your gym clothes in your car so you have no reason to go home after work.
  • Block the time off in your calendar so you have a reminder pop up.
  • Find a gym buddy and make a gym date so you are committing to meet someone at a specific time.
  • Register for a class or reserve a bike so you have an actual time you have to be at the gym.
  • Make an appointment with a trainer so someone is expecting you to be there.
  • Tell someone that you are going to the gym. Saying it out lout and engaging others in your plans will help keep the importance of that plan top-of mind. Telling other people will also make you more accountable because inevitably someone is going to say, “How was the gym”….You don’t want to have your tail between your legs and tell them you didn’t go because it was cold outside.
  • Have a reward in your mind that you can take advantage of after the gym (a sugar-free skinny soy latte), or work towards something bigger (the new shoes you’ve had your eyes on, or that workout attire from your favorite store)
  • Post it on Facebook and let everyone know you’ll be at the gym. Don’t forget to check in when you get there (hehe)!

Here are some other motivational tactics to stay motivated through your fitness journey!
  • Keep your gym music fresh. High-energy music will help you work out with more intensity and focus.
  • Get enough sleep! Lack of sleep will derail your training program faster than anything. Most people overcompensate for their lack of energy by eating too much or skipping the gym altogether.
  • Be patient. Make a promise to yourself to stick with it for at least 3 or 4 months. Consistency is key.
  • Don't try to change every habit at once. Choose one habit to change at a time. For example, start with "get at least 7 hours of sleep each night."
  • Stick to your diet and exercise plan for at least 30 consecutive days. The more often behaviors are repeated, the more likely they will become ingrained and habitual.

What motivates you to get to the gym? Share your best tidbits and motivational tactics.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Some Holiday ZINspiration

While the holiday season is full of cheer, it's also full of calories! Not only are we regularly confronted with big meals, desserts, and drinks, social gatherings and preparations cut into workout time in a big way. It's a holiday double whammy! This week, The Z Beat is bringing you some extra motivation to stay focused on your health goals. Today, we have a round up of some of my favorite ZINspiration stories. You can see all the ZINspiration stories here.

Sonja went from being overweight and unhappy to the instructor with the purple hair, beaming with confidence and inspiring others to get healthy!

Rob built new healthy habits, quit smoking and lost weight!

Wendy went from a size 16 to a size 4, getting healthy for her family through changing her diet and finding Zumba

Ana lost 70 pounds, found enough confidence to shake off her shyness to become an instructor, and became a health coach to inspire others!

Nekisha ditched the meds and got addicted to getting healthy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Sleep-Fitness-Health Connection

I've been thinking a lot lately about the importance of good sleep, mostly because I used to be a stellar sleeper but at 8 months pregnant, things have changed! I also had the opportunity to try a new fitness tracker, the REM-Fit Active 200, which focuses its users on the importance not only of intentional exercise, but also of regular activity and good sleep (be sure to read to the end for a discount code!). This is another great holiday gift idea.

The REM-Fit Active 200 is unique in that it's made by a bedding company. Yep, these folks understand how to get some ZZZs! The tracker can be worn as a bracelet or as a belt/pocket clip on (which I really like because I wouldn't wear a tracker bracelet to work!). Through the REM-Fit app, you can view steps taken, distance traveled, and calories burned like other trackers. You also rack up ActivePoints, which reflect the intensity and duration of activity. I liked this feature because I've been known to march in place to hit my step count using my other steps tracker... but you can't fool the REM-Fit into giving you ActivityPoints!

But, the really interesting feature with this tracker are SleepPoints. When you go to bed, you hit a button in the app and when you wake up, you can find out have much deep, light, and REM sleep you got. Over a few days, I was able to look for trends (yep, I'm a data nerd!) and found that if I go to bed too early, I actually get worse sleep. Go figure! Here's why sleep is so important, according to Harvard Medical School:

Sleep is often one of the first things to go when people feel pressed for time. Many view sleep as a luxury and think that the benefits of limiting the hours they spend asleep outweigh the costs... Medical conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, develop over long periods of time and result from a number of factors... [but] insufficient sleep has also been linked to these and other health problems, and is considered an important risk factor.

The tracker came with the REM-Fit 300 pillow, which is made of memory foam and has temperature control features so it doesn't get too warm. I can't stand a hot pillow so I found this extra comfy for sleeping.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this pair of products as a holiday gift for someone who's into data and sees the connection between sleep and health. One thing that I found is that the step counter isn't as sensitive as other trackers, so if your main goal is getting 10K steps a day, you may be disappointed with the REM-Fit's way of counting steps. But, if you want a holistic view of health and a super comfy pillow, I'd give these products a try!

Good news! The nice folks at REM-Fit are offering you 20% off all of their products! Just use the code JC20 at check out. Happy shopping! 

Note: I received the REM-Fit Active 200 and 300 pillow in exchange for posting a review. However, all opinions are my own and honest!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Fitness-Themed Holiday Gift Guide!

Tis the season! With Cyber Monday upon us, you may be starting (or finishing?) your holiday shopping this week. Here's a list of some good ideas for friends and family looking to get or stay fit this year! Pro tip: You can also share this post to send a subtle hint to your loved ones. :)

Foam rollers are part massage, part torture, but are wholly helpful to recovery after a tough workout. I have one like this and it's been a lifesaver for my legs and back.

This "I love Salsa" bracelet is ADORable and totally trendy with its hanging charms. Perfect for a Zumba instructor!

Exercise bands like these are super inexpensive ($10-20 for a set) and allow you to workout on the road, in front of the TV, even in bed! They're a great addition to anyone's home gym.

Inspirational books are a great way to kickstart an exercise routine or spark a renewed appreciation for working out. I'm dying to read this biography on Misty Copeland, the first Black principal ballerina in the prestigious American Ballet Theater. If you're looking for humor, try Confessions of an Unlikely Runner, described as part Forrest Gump, part Bridget Jones!

Lastly, fitness trackers are all the rage this year. I'll be back on Wednesday with more info on the REM-Fit, a new-ish brand to the market that tracks not only steps but overall activity, sleep patterns, and more.

Need more ideas? Check out last year's top 10 gift list for more inspiration!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

10 Fitness-y Things I am Thankful For

This post is from Melissa, a guest blogger on The Z Beat!
We've all seen those "What I'm Thankful For" lists this time of year and with Thanksgiving upon us, I thought I would share 10 of the (mostly) fitness things I am thankful for this November.
1) Dressing like an Easter egg... and getting away with it - When I was growing up, whenever I wore something that didn't match, my dad would say "You look like an Easter egg!" As a Zumba instructor, wearing bold colors and patterns and "mismatching" are encouraged instead of frowned upon and I am thankful to be able to make a statement each time I teach.
2) My students - It's no secret that some days can be trying and I can feel defeated, but 99 percent of the time, my students lift me up and help me realize that I am not alone in facing my challenges. In most cases, they make me forget whatever I was upset about to begin with so I am thankful to be able to let go in class.
3) The ability to wake up each day and do something I love - There's an old saying: if you do something you love, you'll never work a day in your life. Zumba makes me feel that way and I thankful to be able to get up each morning and know that I can have fun, dance and still get paid!
4) The friends I've made - I can't begin to count the people I've met and the dear friends I have made just because I was at the gym, doing a run or teaching a class. Those connections never would've happened if I was sitting on my couch watching TV and I am thankful for each one.
5) Massage chairs/beds - At one of the gyms I go to, I have unlimited use of massage chairs and also a hydro-massage bed and all I can say is, thank you.
6) Seeing progress in others - I always encourage people to take before and after pics when they start a fitness journey. As an instructor, I can see changes in people because I don't see them every day. I am thankful to point out these positive changes for my students and friends.
7) A hot shower - Nothing feels better after a workout and a rockin' class than a nice hot shower. I am thankful for the moment I turn those knobs and instantly feel refreshed.
8) Inspiring others - Many people tell me how what I do every day inspires them to do this or that. What an honor that it to hear. I am thankful to be a good example to others when they need it and while I may just be doing what I always do, they are always watching.
9) Ibuprofen and Aleve - Not gonna lie, aches and pains happen a lot in my mid-40s so I am thankful for the times I need the help to be able to move again.
10) All of The Z Beat readers i.e. YOU - I am beyond thankful for Jennifer Lauren for keeping The Z Beat up and running and to all of you for reading my guest posts. I am blessed.
Would love to hear what you may be thankful for so feel free to comment. Until next time, stay healthy!

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Z Beat's Second Annual Thanksgiveaway!

It's that time of year again! I'm so thankful for the community of readers that engage with The Z Beat, and to show my thanks I have some great prizes for you to win!

We're giving away:
  • Over the shoulder lime green Zumba bag
  • Zumba manifesto magnet
  • Dance is Love Zumba towel
  • Set of four bangle bracelets (ya know, for after class)
  • A mystery gift to be included in the prize pack!
Use the form below to enter. You can enter one way or all five ways to get more chances to win! Happy Thanksgiving and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The fine print: No purchase necessary. To participate, enter using the form above by 12:00am on 11/30/15. A winner will be selected randomly via Rafflecopter. Winners may live anywhere, but must produce a valid address for shipment within 5 business days of being contacted by email. The Z Beat is not responsible for lost or deleted entries, and will make final decisions regarding disputes. Thanks for participating!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tools and Tricks on!

This post is by Dana, a guest blogger on The Z Beat!

Did you know as a ZIN member, there's a plethora of tools and resources available for you right at your fingertips as part of your ZIN monthly dues? I bet by the time you get to the end of this list you will have discovered a new resource. Ready, Set, Go! The web site has so.much.information. it is silly! Let’s take a closer look at everything the site has to offer. Once you log in on click on your name in the right hand corner and you will see a drop-down menu. Let’s explore:

My ZIN Home: This landing page is hub for all of the information that is relevant to you. It lists broad announcements. Pay attention to these announcements as they are great resources to find out when your ZIN™ NOW music is ready to be downloaded, as well as volunteer and job opportunities. On this page you will also be able to explore your local training options, find marketing materials and make sure that your Zumba classes are showing up properly.

Manage Classes: This is an important one! You have the opportunity to edit existing classes and add new ones through this interface. It is SO important to keep your schedule up-to-date so prospective Zumba participants can find you. (Note, these classes will also show up on your Zumba web site).

Manage Events: Hosting an event? Post it here! This is a great place to list your event for marketing purposes. Not only will you be able to link to it in your social media and marketing efforts, but you will get the exposure via the platform! (This is a great gem).
Manage my Website: Having an online presence is so important these days. Let’s face it, that is the way that most people are going to find you, ONLINE! Zumba provides ZIN members an easy-to-use web site builder packed with templates that are already created so all you have to do is drag and drop your information within the online tool, save and press publish and voila! I bet you can build a site in less than 30 minutes, and the instant value in terms of marketing and exposure is invaluable.

Marketing Materials: Zumba has taken the guess work and stress out of creating marketing materials. The marketing materials section literally gives your business cards, marketing pieces, and punch cards for your classes. All you have to do is type in your personal information, save and print. (Really, it is that easy!)

Affiliate Program: You get paid when other people shop. YUP, that’s right. Under the affiliate program, you just need to set up a code and let people know when they shop on to enter your affiliate code, they get a discount and you get paid. (Sounds like a Win-Win to me!) Speaking of, feel free to use discount code thezbeat for 10% off all of your purchases!

Instructor Trainings: This section will outline Zumba training opportunities by niche and state. Check back often for new instructor trainings that are added to the line-up. If you see something that you want to enroll in, don’t wait, these classes fill up quickly!

Instructor Trainings: e-learning is also a great way to “be in the know” and learn new skills. e-learning allows you to learn from the comfort of your home at your pace. In this section you can sign up and learn a new rhythm or even broaden your horizons and check out Plate by Zumba™.

Forum: The forum is a fantastic way to connect with your local, regional and national Zumba family. You can jump on a communication thread that is already started, or start your own! There are also live forums on Thursdays. There is a ton of great, easy-to-find information packed into this section of the web site.

ZIN™ NOW: If you don’t already know about ZIN™ NOW check it out. ZIN™ NOW gives you the opportunity to receive your ZIN™ Volumes and Mega Mixes digitally through ZIN™ Now. If you make the switch to digital (no additional cost), you will receive your music on the first of the month!

My ZIN Account: Is where you can check to make sure your personal information is up-to-date and edit your billing information. HINT, your ZIN Member ID is also listed on this page!

Don’t forget about this great online resource! And oh… you can also SHOP online here for Zumba wear! How could I forget??
What resource do you find the most helpful on

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Three Phases of Teaching Zumba

This post is by Dana, a guest blogger on The Z Beat!

Phase 1: The “I can’t wait to strip off my work clothes and start dancing” phase

1.    I know once the music starts that whatever was bothering me from earlier in the day will be gone… “POOF”!

2.    I am 100% certain that the smiling faces from my Zumba class will instantly make me smile and happy straight to the core.

3.    I am positive that when I start to “sparkle” (AKA sweat), I will actually feel the day dripping off of me.

4.    I am instantly in my comfort zone, and I know that I along with everyone else can forget about reality for the next hour.

5.    I am excited to know that everyone there is probably there for the same exact reasons as me!

Phase 2: The “phew, class just ended” phase

1.       I now have enough energy to power wash the side of my house, fly home or run a marathon.

2.      My clothes will be dripping, soaking, ring-them-out wet to the point people will inevitably stare at me on my way out of the gym.

3.      I will happily bounce up the steps and dash through the door as a brand new person!

4.      I know I can tackle anything else that comes my way for at least the next 5 hours.

    5.      And as I reflect on my day at work, with the kiddo and from class, I somehow only remember the positive aspects of my day because I burned off the crazy in class!

Phase 3: The “day after” phase

1.       I wonder which one of the songs made my legs so sore as I go back down the steps and out the door to work.

2.      I already start to think about the next playlist and figure out which songs I want to rotate in and swap out.

3.      I try to stop humming my favorite ZIN song of the day, but I can’t help myself.

4.      I plug in my earbuds and listen to songs on repeat all day long. 

5.      And… back to phase 1! I can’t wait to get changed, and start all over again.