Monday, May 18, 2015

ZINspiration Monday with Claire!

Claire is a Surrey, United Kingdom native who found herself in need of a change. Here's her story.

My story began on a Saturday night in the local pub with my friends. One of the girls was talking about how great Zumba was on the Wii and how hard you have to work, when I piped up ‘you can go to actual real-life Zumba classes you know?’, having attended a couple a few years ago and remembering how much I had enjoyed it.  So, straight away we got on the internet and searched for our nearest class and found one on a day and time that all three of us could manage. In the middle of the pub, we made a fairly drunken ‘pinky-promise’ that we would all go. Two of us stuck to our promise.
The first class we tried was a bit too tame, I didn’t find it ‘energetic’ enough in comparison to my recollections. The second class, the instructor didn’t even turn up. Then the third place we tried, which was perfect. I felt like Goldilocks, this seemed just right!

From day one, I was hooked. I think everyone feels completely daft at first, when most of the class know the routines and you’re just standing there staring at the instructor, confused and feeling that everyone is looking at you like you’re some kind of weirdo for not being able to do it. But that never happened, no-one laughed at anyone for doing it ‘wrong’ – the general attitude being ‘as long as you’re moving, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing’. The way the instructor got the whole class going was inspiring. People were smiling, laughing, interacting and having a genuinely brilliant time, as well as actually exercising. And it is that atmosphere that made me keep going back. But not only that class, I often went four or five nights a week – even when I had to be brave and go on my own!
 
I hadn’t been particularly happy at work, my relationship wasn’t going too well and I was constantly looking for an excuse to get out of the house, and after the loss of my dad a few years beforehand and most of my family living so far away, I felt lost and fairly lonely. Having suffered with depression previously, I knew there was a chance I would slip back into the old cycle and that I had to do something positive with my life.
I tried my hardest to get anyone and everyone I knew to come with me and try this experience as I wanted them to feel as great as I did (and probably bored all of my friends with my Zumba ravings!).  As I attended more and more classes to get my ‘high’, I started to feel a change in myself, not only physically, but mentally. I began to tone up and lose weight and with that, cut down on comfort eating because I felt like I was doing something good and didn’t want to ruin my hard work. I also felt my confidence levels were boosted, especially when people started to comment on how I looked healthier. I could feel myself starting to stand a little taller and smile a lot more. I had a lot more energy and was sleeping better and waking up feeling refreshed, rather than tired and uninterested every day.

My working days seemed to become shorter, knowing that I had a Zumba class to go to in the evening. I would talk about it to my colleagues, my friends and basically anyone who would listen. I even put friends on hold on a Friday night so that I could Zumba first and meet them later!  Even now, my friends know that they have to book me in advance, as there's no way I'm cancelling class - my participants NEED me! I lost 42 pounds along the way.
 
After a couple of months, my friends had really noticed how good it was for me. I was taken aback when one of my closest friends told me how proud he was of me for keeping motivated and how he’d never known anyone to have embraced anything as ferociously as I had and how much he could see a change in me for the better. To which I simply replied ‘I just love it’. He and a couple of other friends suggested maybe I should try to become an instructor – which I loved the idea of, but thought there wasn't a chance for me.  

But the more I thought about it, the more I thought that perhaps I could learn and that I could make a good go of it because I had the motivation and the will. I want to make other people feel as good about themselves as I had started to feel.
I love watching these other, crazy ladies wiggling, whooping, jumping and giggling for all their worth and escaping for an hour from the ‘normality’ of daily life. It is an incredible sensation to see people enjoying themselves and letting go for that short moment.
So, needles to say in August 2012 I went to B1 and became an instructor!
I am sure that my dad would be very proud of me and what I have achieved so far and that compels me to keep going forward. I know that I drive people nuts with my ‘obsession’, but I can’t help it. I feel good, happy and more confident and content in my own skin than I ever have. I always have something to look forward to and if I have a ‘down’ day because I know that when I get to class, I will be welcomed with beaming smiles and happy folks every time.

I am so thankful to my friends for that ‘pinky-promise’ that has changed my life for the better.

 

My advice to others is that we all have to start somewhere and just getting to class is a massive step, so just go with the flow and do what you can and you'll soon find yourself smiling and enjoying the class after getting over the initial self-conscious feelings - nobody is going to judge you for your size, shape and age, etc. - you're there, doing it and that's what matters. And stick with it!

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