Friday, July 31, 2015

Ensure Your Safety with Insurance!

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

Ok, I'm going to openly admit that this post is a little on the boring side, but it’s important! All of us LOVE teaching Zumba and of course do our best to make sure our students enjoy their classes and stay safe. The thing is you never know the complete history of your students health, how fit they are, how coordinated they are or how prone to injury they may be. This is why I decided to talk a little bit about group fitness instructor insurance this month.

According to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning the most common injuries in group fitness classes involve the back, knee or ankle. Many of these injuries disrupt the workout schedules of the injured and (this is where the insurance comes in) could potentially bring liability claims against the instructor.

So why do you need insurance? And what do you need to know?
·         As an independent contractor you need your own policy that can move around with you depending on where you are teaching.
·         Big box gyms carry insurance for their facility, but you still need to carry your own personal group fitness instructor policy.
·         Your policy will protect you against bodily injury and property damage claims.
·         In many cases policies also include professional and legal liability protection.

How do you get group fitness instructor insurance?
In many cases it’s as simple as filling out a form and purchasing online. There are plenty of companies out there offering coverage and like all other kinds of insurance they vary in price and coverage.

What provider should I use?
This of course is up to you and I would recommend that you do a little research to find the policy that fits your needs. Here are a few providers to check out:
·         K&K Insurance (full disclosure this is the company I use)
·         Nationwide

So do a little research, choose a provider and get some coverage! It’s easy, relatively cheap for a year of coverage (mine was $154 last year), and will cover you should the worst happen. My policy is due to renew in a few weeks and I am quite happy to pay a little of my earnings for some peace of mind.
Have any of you needed to file a claim to your insurance company? How did it go? Any tips for the rest of us?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Question of the Week: How do you prepare to teach?

As I was listening to my playlist, rehearsing my new routines (to make sure I have them down) and practicing my two older songs (to make sure I still remembered them), I got to thinking. Everyone has their own pre-class rituals, and we could probably benefit from hearing from each other. Here's a round up of ideas from fellow ZINs.

"I prepare by reviewing my playlist, seeing if I want to add a new song, take out an over-played one or bring back a class favorite. Also, because I teach multiple classes, I get my clothes ready on Sunday so that I have all my outfits for the week out."
-Brenda R.

"I have 3 different classes that I teach. I prepare for each class by listening to my playlist over and over again the day before and the morning of each class, taking out songs that have been in for more than 5 weeks or so and adding one or two to make sure it's as close to a full hour as I can get. I also make sure that each playlist follows the formula, has the proper warm ups (step touch, cardio, toning), pre cool down and cool down stretch song, and has all of the basic rhythms in addition to lots of awesome international rhythms. Going over my choreography, I try to make it so every part of the body gets a workout so I want each song to have different kinds of moves to make it fun and interesting for all of the participants. I LOVE what I do and I am so blessed to have 3 classes at the age of 57!!!"
-Judy E.

"I try to prepare my playlists for the week on Sundays. If there is a new song I want to do, I make sure I practice it. I listen to my playlist at work on Monday at my desk to make sure the order of songs is good. Sometimes I have to make changes as I may have put 2 cumbias together or songs with almost identical steps together, or maybe I feel the playlist is too easy/hard for that particular class."
-Patria M.

"I have a nice little chat with God. :)"
-Darla B.

"I usually give myself a rest day on Sundays so I can get my body ready for the week. I think about my classes... who's said they're coming... who said they have to miss this week, and then I go through my songs and pick some favorites plus make sure I have the main rhythms covered... salsa... cumbia... merengue... reggaeton... a good mixture. I don't like all of my songs to sound the same. I have several students that come to all of my classes so I make each playlist for each class different. I want each class to be different and special so I change things up for them a little. Then I listen to my playlists a bazillion times. I always listen to the playlist for the class I'm heading to right before class so I can go through the moves in my head. I like to say a quick prayer as I'm driving to class just to ask for safety for my students and to let them have a enjoyable time and get a good workout in. I try to eat a little meal about 2 hours before class so the food is settled. I can't teach on a empty stomach because it drains all of my energy. Then I always have a snack like almonds or a banana after class as I'm driving home."
-Amy T.

"With 3 classes Mon & Wed each week, hydration is huge. Lots of veggies & clean eating. I arrange my playlist with a varied mix of all types of rhythms, listening to the flow of it repeatedly."
-Kelly C.

What do you do to prepare for class?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Motivation Monday: National Dance Day

National Dance Day happened over the weekend, which you know thanks to Kristi's alert a few weeks ago! I love this idea - people sharing their passion for dance in a way that brings us together.

Photo Credit: Zumba Fitness
I found it really inspiring this year to see all of the photos and videos on social media. It reminded me that we're part of a larger community - in the Zumba world and beyond it. ZHO (Zumba home office, that is) shared great images of dancers striking a pose on Facebook and Instagram... I loved following them!

Happy #NationalDanceDay! It doesn't matter when, where or how you Zumba dance...These dancers around the world show us...
Posted by Zumba Fitness on Saturday, July 25, 2015

Of course, the folks at So You Think You Can Dance were leading the charge on NDD. They offered up some cool choreography from Twitch and Travis Wall that people around the world learned. Here's Twitch's instructional video:
Then, the magic happened. Here are some clips of people replicating both Twitch and Travis's moves.
I love being reminded that dance can bring people together like this, even the nurses and patients in the hospital in this last clip. Truly inspirational!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Worst Case Scenario: Fitness Instructor Edition

You've prepped for your class and you're ready to go. You've done this plenty of times, what could go wrong? Well, we don't always talk about it, but sometimes you-know-what happens. Here's a survival guide for the worst case scenario.

Wardrobe Malfunction
If it slips, dips, or rips, you're just going to have to go along with it! Most wardrobe malfunctions can be covered up - a shirt tied around the waist, a strategic tucking, or a quick piece of tape from the gym's front desk. If you've had a severe malfunction, say a quick apology but try not to stop the class - this will minimize attention. I promise you some or all of your students probably didn't even notice. After all, Janet Jackson just got BET's Ultimate Icon award - so, you'll make your comeback, too.

A Blank Mind
No matter how many times you rehearse a sequence of kickboxing moves, yoga positions, or dance routines, you're bound to have a straight up "I have no idea what to do next" moment every once in a while. Be sure to pick a standard move ahead of time that will always be your go to when that happens. That way, you're not spending time trying to figure out what to do - you immediately start jumping jacksing, grapevining, or toe tapping so your brain can focus on what the heck you actually wanted to do.

Bodily Functions
Ew, I know. This is the one that nobody wants to talk about. But look, they happen. If you're not feeling well, it's OK to excuse yourself for a minute (you can assign the class sets of squats, pick a "leader" for a song, or have them stretch on their own) to avoid an issue before it happens. If it's too late for that, once again, say a quick apology and move on. Most students are just focused on keeping up. And if it's really bad, end class early, apologize, and offer to add X minutes to your next class at the same location to make up for it. Then get the hell out of there.

Where is everybody?
This may not be as bad as ripping a hole in your pants or trying not to puke on your front row students, but it can be awkward if you only have one or two students in a class. Most group fitness classes are not designed to double as personal training, and we feed off the energy of the group. If you find yourself in this situation, you have to BRING IT - all the energy you have. Get into the "audience" and move with them. Ask for special requests.

What other situations have you found yourself in? How'd you get yourself out of it?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

When Pain Really Isn’t Gain

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

We’ve all heard the saying or seen the signs posted in gyms and fitness studios that pronounce “No Pain, No Gain.” As a group exercise instructor and also someone who works out regularly with a personal trainer, I can attest to the fact that there are days after a hard workout or high-energy class that getting out of bed takes a wee-bit longer than normal.

But sometimes, pain isn’t necessarily something that should be worn as a badge of honor and it really is our body’s way of letting us know that there might be a problem or that maybe we need to take a rest day. Thing is, how can you tell the difference between knowing you worked those triceps a little harder than normal as opposed to the feeling that maybe something is wrong?

I am no doctor and I caution anyone reading this who may be in pain to consult one immediately, but there are some things I have learned from medical professionals and trips to my own physician that may help you determine whether it’s time to simply ice it down, heat it up or make an appointment.

First, are you sore for more than three days? If so, there is a chance something might be wrong. Usually, legs take the longest to recover but if after three days you still have trouble doing anything lower body or the same exercise you previously did, you may have to reevaluate. Don’t just brush it off.

Second, are you varying the areas you are working out or do you stick to the same areas every time? A lot of times, there is a misconception that if you want to flatten your belly, that is the only place you should focus on and ignore everything else. If this is what you do, there is a chance you are overworking and straining that one place on your body and injury is more likely. If you are not working different areas on a daily basis, try varying your routine. If after a few days, the soreness doesn’t go away, see a physician.

Third, what does the pain feel like? This may sound silly but I always know if I have to worry that a recurring calf strain I have is actually a problem by whether or not the pain is a constant throbbing or simply sore when I walk on it. This may not be the case with everyone but soreness does feel different than pain. In the winter, I stepped off the curb while walking my dog and even though I had worked out in the morning doing calf raises, I felt a twinge and an “explosion” and knew it wasn’t just soreness and that something was wrong.

Fourth, are you listening to your body, drinking enough water and getting enough rest? One of the hardest things for me was – and still is – understanding what my body was trying to tell me. I want to go all out in everything I do but sometimes, that is when I hurt myself so I learned to start listening when my body told me it was hurting. Now, here is where you have to look within yourself and be honest because there is a fine line between being pushed out of your comfort zone and going full-out and hurting yourself. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water and giving your body time to rest before going right back at it again.

Finally, does your doctor know what you’re doing and if not, why? The best thing to do before starting any sort of physical exercise is to get a physical and identify any areas that may need special attention or modification. This is the best way to know whether you are experiencing soreness or if there is truly something to worry about. If the doctor identifies that you are pre-arthritic, for example, and you start to feel joint pain, that may indicate a more severe problem for you than soreness.

Remember that a good workout doesn’t have to cripple you for days and if you don’t experience any soreness, it doesn’t indicate that you had a bad workout. All our bodies are different but we only get one… so take care of it!

Monday, July 20, 2015

ZINspiration Monday Quotables

In the age of Instagram, nothing inspires me to do a set of squats between commercial breaks than seeing some inspirational quotes. No, I'm not talking about fitspo stuff, that no excuses, you can look like this tiny model, workout three times a day and only eat lettuce nonsense. I mean a solid inspirational quote. Here are some of my recent favorites.


Friday, July 17, 2015

A Big Announcement!

I feel like we've become friends in a way - me and those of you out there who regularly read this blog and write back to me. You know a lot about what runs through my head. More then some of the people I see on a regular basis! That's why it's been so strange keeping something kind of big a secret.

Here goes.

I'm having a baby! First kid, 15 weeks along, due in January. Oof, feels good to say it out loud!

There have been all these things I've wanted to ask and share related to fitness and teaching. For now, I'll give you a quick run down and share some more detailed thoughts on another day. (And, I promise this won't turn into a pregnancy blog... I'm just not that kind of girl.)

- Having to keep my heart rate at an acceptable level (my doc says 150 BPM) while teaching is tough... I'm used to using my energy as a tool to get students to move more. I'm a little less jumpy and animated than usual... but still teaching full 60-minute classes and feeling good at the end.
- Why on Earth do people push you to eat so much? "Eating for two" is a myth... yes, you're definitely hungrier (some days I'm shocked at how much I can eat - yesterday I had THREE breakfasts) but I really don't need the whole world encouraging me to stuff my face all the time. I'm trying to strike a balance between getting enough of what I need, some of what I don't need but really want, and as little junk as possible.

- I'm really wondering how long I'll want to keep teaching. I'd like to keep going as long as possible, which to me means 1) as long as I feel good and my doctor says it's ok and 2) as long as my students are still getting a great, uninterrupted, and motivating workout.

- What will it be like going to a fitness conference at 20 weeks pregnant? I know I won't be able to do as much as I had hoped, but I'm still planning to be an active participant. On the positive side, you'll probably recognize me when you see me at sessions and events!

There's more. But, like I said, I'll come back with updates here and there as things move along. Glad we don't have any secrets between us anymore. ;)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Oh, the places your Zumba business will go!

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

Being a Zumba instructor means that you ARE a business person. Yup, an entrepreneur. Whether you are trying to build a business as an independent instructor at a local studio, or you are among other fantastic instructors at a corporate location, you will need to focus on building your own brand so you can stand out in the competitive fitness marketplace.  Keep in mind, you aren’t just “competing” (and I mean that in the nicest way possible) with other Zumba instructors, you are “competing” (again I mean that nicely) with other fitness platforms.  The key is to be unique and have an identifying characteristic that stands out from the other instructors and other fitness formats. When you hear, “Your style is so different from everyone else here”, that is NOT a bad thing. In fact, it means you are memorable.

Building your brand requires A LOT of work. Let me say it again because it is worth repeating. Building your brand is A LOT of work. I don’t mean just physical work (because that seems fairly obvious that you are going to dance until you have blisters on your feet and salsa until you almost can’t take another step), I mean mental and emotional work. magazine published a study that said, “You are going to hear NO more times than you can count as you build your business. However, what you do with that answer have everything to do with your success”. 

Your success is contingent on how you define success. Is your success becoming a sub and experiencing as many gyms as possible? It your success getting your own class, or five of them in as many as gyms as possible? Or for you is success in the number of people that attend your class? Remember, you can have a great class with 10 people or 50, YOU can create your own success. Success doesn’t always mean getting a YES because maybe that YES isn’t a good fit for you and where you want to take your business.

Being mindful of where you want to go (thank you Dr. Seuss), you can take a NO and literally create an opportunity.

Let’s take a closer look at what describes as the three generic types of No's.

  • Wrong information. You didn't explain well enough why YES a good decision is for the other person. Therefore, you must now do a better job of explaining.
§  Communicate your added value in a clear and concise message.
§  Demonstrate your unique characteristic.
§  Define tangible and attainable results that success can be measured against.
  • Wrong timing. The other person needs some time to ponder and thus is saying no to stall. Therefore, you must now be patient and ask for the yes later.
§  Maybe “now is not the right time”, that’s OK! Be enthusiastic and let them know you will follow up in X amount of time.
§  Smile. Be gracious. And leave your contact information with actionable next steps.
  • Wrong circumstance. There's something over which the other person has no control that's blocking him or her from saying yes. Therefore, you must now work with the other person to transcend the block.
§  Stay positive and engage your POC so they are enthusiastic and will want to help you reach the right person.
§  Keep it simple, and always point out the mutually beneficial reasons why it is a fantastic idea to work together.
Good luck with your business venture! We would love to hear your stories using the hashtag #ZumbaSuccessStories!

Monday, July 13, 2015

(Un)Motivation Monday

I love sharing stories that motivate and inspire ya'll to keep pushing toward your health and fitness goals. Remember Krishna, Cody, and Paula? Their stories were truly incredible - overcoming the odds to not only get themselves to a great place, but to support others on their own quests to get healthy. I've also shared some thoughts on persistence and will power.

Today is Monday. Mondays are supposed to be for motivation. Can't let the tradition (or the alliteration) go to waste!

But, do you ever just have a day where you're not motivated? It's not because anything bad happened, or because someone said the wrong thing. Maybe you're swamped with deadlines at work, or you have to have a difficult conversation at home, or you owe three friends a call (or all three - hello, reality!).

There are going to be some days where your health and fitness goals take a back seat. Today's Monday Motivation is this: it's OK to be unmotivated once in a while! We all need a break and we all have other things to think about sometimes. If you believe all the "fitspo" you read online, you're made to think that everyday you should bound out of bed, be thrilled that you get to exercise for 75 minutes, eat your well-planned meals of lean protein and veggies, put in a full day of work, spend time with your partner, and get a full night's rest. What a load of crap!

Personally, I think the way to stay motivated is to not let your busy/bad/moody/imperfect days get the best of you. We can all have an off day. It's when you let one off day turn into two off days, then an off week, then an off month that you get into trouble. We can't slip into the "I'll start on Monday" routine, because Monday. Never. Comes.

So, allow yourself some unmotivation every once in a while. Do what you gotta do. Then move on, because you deserve to feel good and treat yourself well at least 99% of the time!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Good Habits, Bad Habits: What makes an instructor great?

Today I'm sharing two awesome articles from RateYourBurn (it's a site for fitness instructor reviews - which is a topic for a whole other post!).

Photo credit:
The first is called 25 Habits of Amazing Fitness Instructors, and I thought it was pretty spot on. Things like having confidence, learning students' names, and building community within your class are all things that I've appreciated from other instructors in the past. It's definitely worth a read!

On the flip side, they also published an article called 13 Things Fitness Instructors Should Never Say in Class. It's a helpful list of reminders. I especially appreciated "anything that sounds like a complaint"... nothing is worse than a cranky instructor (yes, we know it's hot in here, and we're trying not to think about it!). I would have added "staring at yourself in the mirror", because nothing irks me more than taking a class with someone who seems like they're there for themselves and not for you.

If you're looking for things to say or do during class to motivate students, check this post from the archives where I worked with another instructor to gather up some ideas.

Keep an eye out for a future post from The Z Beat on a Zumba-specific list like these! Happy Friday!