Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween, Zumba Style!

Happy Halloween! I have to say, it's not my favorite holiday (for the record, it's Thanksgiving... a day all about family and food? yes, please!), but this year I'm getting into the spirit. There are tons of Halloween routines on YouTube, but these caught my attention and got me ready to celebrate!

Here is Arijana (whose choreo we've seen before) with a Glee remix of Thriller and Heads Will Roll. Love it!

There was something a little creepy about the costumes and lighting in this next clip, but this is a great song (True Blood by Justin Timberlake) that's different from the usual Halloween tracks.

Um, then I found these zombie nurses, and I started wondering if I should quit writing this post.

Luckily I came across this Monster Mash, which is more my speed.

Hey, whatever makes you happy, especially on Halloween. Have a spooktastic day!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I've been using you.

And, I hope you've been using me, too. Allow me to explain.

I shared a little bit about how important social media and online communities are in my post about weight loss from a few weeks ago. This is becoming more and more true for me for a few reasons.

1) Tried DietBet: Haven't heard of it? The premise is simple: you buy in to a DietBet game for around $25 - $35, and you have 4 weeks to lose 4% of your weight. If you meet your weight goal, you win a share of the pot (after DietBet takes its 25%). It seems that 50-60% of people typically meet their goal. So, say there are 400 people participating in a $25 game - that's $7,500 in the pot that could be won. If 200 people make their goal, each person walks away with $37.50. You're not going to get rich playing, but the game provides extra motivation.

More importantly, players use site to encourage each other, troubleshoot challenges, and celebrate small wins along the way. I tried my first DietBet in September and loved it. The 4% goal is reasonable and I loved being in it with so many other people cheering each other on. If you're interested in DietBet, let me know and I'll start one - ZIN edition!

2) Joining Instagram: I finally took the plunge! I really enjoy following #fitness, #zumba, and #zumbalove posts. Seeing your sweaty Jam pics, race photos, etc. is totally inspiring and really does make me want to put on my sneakers and get moving.

3) Reading your ZINspiration: I didn't start ZINspiration Mondays for me, but boy, do I love reading about all of the things you've overcome and how you encourage your students. You guys rule. In case you've missed them:
  • Tiffany - lost 80 pounds and became an instructor to inspire others
  • Rob - lost weight and built new healthy habits
  • Kirsten - volunteers to teach Zumba for special education students in her community
  • Tony - used Zumba to get healthy and represents for men!
  • Karen - started working out with Zumba despite her osteogenesis imperfect, or brittle bone disease
  • Ray - lost 100 pounds with Zumba and a move overseas
  • Kristi - lost 70 pounds and documents her health journey at Becoming Supersonic
  • Ana - lost 70 pounds and became a health coach
  • Mariann - overcame myxedema and got B1 and Gold licensed
  • Amy - after a polycystic ovarian syndrome diagnosis and a number of setbacks, lost a ton of weight and became a Weight Watchers instructor!
  • Charita - became a Zumba instructor on Extreme Weight Loss
  • Jacqueline - found a passion for Zumba and got licensed at age 67!
  • Christine - lost 50 pounds and gained a ton of confidence

I hope you'll use The Z Beat and the online Zumba community (in Facebook groups like ZIN and Zumbafriends) as a support system for your own health journey. Here's to using each other!

Monday, October 27, 2014

ZINspiration Mondays with Tiffany Pacheco

Tiffany is from San Antonio, TX and shared her inspiring story of hardship and success! Here is her story:

When I started doing Zumba about a year ago, I was at my heaviest weight at 230 pounds. I knew something had to be done. I also have a visual impairment and I didn't really know where to turn to as far as fitness goes... but it was time for a change.

I attended a Zumba class and I was immediately hooked.  My instructor was really good and patient with me.  He always gave me priority in the front row due to my visual impairment. 

With the help of Zumba, I was able to lose 80 pounds. Now that I lost the weight, I feel more confident and have more energy. I'm putting that energy to good use, as I got my Zumba license on February 28th of this year!

The hardest part of transitioning from student to teacher is just realizing that teaching is way different from being a student. I love what I do and hope to inspire others to get healthy.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

ZIN 53: A Review

I did something new with ZIN 53. Instead of going straight to the DVD, I first listened to the CD. I found it really helpful to identify the songs I like most first... sometimes I don't love the choreo they provide and I think it turns me off to great songs without giving them a good chance.

This is what I tweeted when I first listened to the CD:
And, I meant it! Like the last mega mix, the chore rhythm songs were perfect - very recognizable and simple to choreograph. When I got to the DVD, I instantly loved the live class choreo for the first two songs, a merengue and a salsa.  Can't wait to learn them and use them... especially the salsa, my three regular salsas are just about ready to be replaced!

I also liked the cumbia (ironically, named Mi Gente like the recent ZIN song for which I have a love/hate affinity). It's a but slower than other songs, so it's prefect for mid-playlist intermittent training. I wasn't sure about Watch Out for This until I watched the live choreo for it - looks like so much fun! I didn't love La Zumbera right away but the choreo in the one-on-one class looks like a great hips/core workout. I won't use the Brazilian Funk song... I think it works for folks who are really into dance and music but I think my students like lyrics and songs that flow a bit more than this one does.

The end of the volume was great. Again, loved the live choreo for Solito y Sin Ti - it brought the song to life for me. The reggaeton song was really upbeat and different from other reggaetons I use. And, the crown jewel of the songs... Talk Dirty (a Jason Derulo original). I don't always love the songs they pick for remixes, but I LOVE this song and have been looking for an excuse to use it. I've had choreo in my head for it already, so I think I'll use my own... I can already feel the duck lips coming on!

What did you think? Happy choreographing!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Zumba Hacks Every Instructor Should Know!

HACK (noun): a piece of computer code providing a quick or inelegant solution to a particular problem
ZUMBA HACK (made-up noun): a quick fix or good idea that makes a ZIN's life easier
Here are a few Zumba hacks that I hope you'll find helpful.  There are a couple of ideas here that I know I saw on Facebook but don't have the originator's name - if it's your idea, please let me know!

  • Keep it close: This is an idea from Facebook - use a quarterback's wristband to keep your choreography notes handy! You probably wouldn't want to rely on notes, but it might ease the anxiety of introducing a new routine if you know you can glance at your plan.

  • Remember movement patterns: People ask me all the time if I count in my head or memorize lyrics.  I actually just remember choreo patterns - samba, knee lifts, samba, lunge tap - so I really only have to memorize a few words in my head for each song.  This is basically how they teach you how to learn the songs in B1 but I don't bother worrying about verses, choruses, etc. - just a teaser for the moves.


  • Export your iTunes list: I like to keep my classes fresh, and that means rotating routines and genres on a regular basis. It can be hard to keep track of, so I export my playlist into Excel so I can sort and filter for different songs and styles. You can simply select your songs (CTRL + arrow button to select multiple rows), hit copy (CTRL + C) and paste into Excel. Bonus points if you add a grouping and genre directly into iTunes, which you can also copy as part of the export. Then, use the Filter function in Excel to view all your salsas, cumbias, etc.

  • Notes on ZIN volume cases: I usually only upload the songs I think I'm going to use, or else I find my music collection unwieldy. But, I also don't want to forget the songs I haven't vetted, so I write notes directly on the CD cases. Something like, "Used tracks 1, 3, 5; want to listen to 7 again; 9 is a good salsa when I'm ready for a new one"... otherwise, I'll never get back to them!

  • Save your money on carpet sliders: You can actually put some duct tape on the bottoms of your shoes for extra slide-power!

  • Front row switch-up: We all love our front row divas, but sometimes you need to shake things up - maybe there are new students in the back who you know can't see you, or someone is invading your personal space. Instead of trying to get your students to move, YOU can move around the room to a new spot! You'll have to teach facing the group if there aren't 360 degree mirrors, but it'll be worth it.  This is another idea that I read on Facebook that I really liked.

  • Add time to take a breath: It's important to keep your class moving, but having a few seconds between songs every once in a while gives students (and you!) a chance to grab some water and regroup.  You can download pre-made silence mp3s here.  Just add them to your playlist like you would a song - no need to stop your iPod or CD mid-class to enjoy a quick breather!

  • Getting to know you: I love learning my students' names, but there isn't always an easy way to ask for names, and you're bound to forget a few. An easy way to get to know names is to ask everyone to write down their name and favorite song from your playlist.  When the song comes on, ask, "Whose favorite song was this?" It's a fun way to keep track of names and get to know everyone a little better.

What are your Zumba hacks?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Thinking About Group Ex Certification...

Photo Credit: ACE Fitness
Every once in a while, I think about getting ACE or AFAA certified so that I can teach other fitness formats and improve my Zumba teaching. Let me back up for a second. After college, I went straight to grad school, and a few years later I went back for a PhD. I just graduated in May and promised I would never go back to school and studying. No more teachers, no more books. But, this is kind of like, for fun - right? Different from regular studying? I guess I actually like learning. Thanks a lot, Mom and Dad. :)

So, I did a little research on the two certifications (there are others, but these are the biggies). Here are some interesting facts:

What the heck is the difference between the two?

According to ACE (so, this is their self-assessment):
"The ACE Group Exercise Leadership Specialty Certification is designed for instructors currently teaching modality-specific or pre-choreographed classes or personal trainers who are exploring a new direction in group fitness. The curriculum complements the education teachers receive in 1- or 2-day instructor training programs like Zumba fitness, Les Mills, Turbokick or indoor cycling.”

From other things I read, it seems that AFAA is better known to prepare people to create their own aerobics classes, whereas ACE's sweet spot is enhancing instructors' capacity to lead pre-choreographed or structured classes a la Zumba. AFAA focuses on: basic anatomy, nutrition, the fundamentals of designing group ex classes, injury prevention, and the business side of teaching.

Do you have to have a biology/physiology background?

No! But, it sounds like people who opt for AFAA certification tend to have more of a background in health and/or the science of fitness.

I know my stuff. Can I just take the test?

Mmm, notsofast.  They recommend studying for 1 – 3 months before taking the test. It looks like you would have to pay to take the test again if you don’t pass, so it’s probably worth hitting the books.

What does it cost?

ACE’s standard program is $299, but for $499 you can get the premium package with flashcards, etc. AFAA costs $299, but there is a recommended textbook for $69 not included.

Well, smarty pants, you did all this research… what do you think?

There are many times I wish I knew more about body mechanics to help my students.  I rely on my dance background for the basics, but I think a group fitness certification would be a big help. I think it’s a good choice for anyone who teaches a format like Zumba and doesn’t have a fitness or dance background.  But, I also think you could study up on the basics of anatomy, body mechanics, and exercise on your own for the low cost of $Free.99.  I would definitely recommend a certification for others who are serious about group ex and want to be able to maintain a gym job. It shows you have depth and that you can keep up with trends. It also validates your abilities to other instructors who may be more willing to call on you as a sub.

Who’s certified out there? Tell us what you think!

Monday, October 20, 2014

ZINspiration Monday with Rob Gurney

Today's ZINspiration comes from Canadian Rob Gurney who found Zumba and made other lifestyle changes to get healthy.  Here is Rob's story.

For 20 years, I smoked and had other unhealthy vices. I was working at the YMCA, where I started weight lifting and then was introduced to Zumba. We were actually having a staff retreat and for the break, we did Zumba as a group. I immediately picked it up and knew teaching was on my bucket list! I have memories from when I was young of my mother as an aerobics instructor and she looked like she had so much fun teaching, and I had finally found the same passion.

Since getting B1 licensed in December 2011 (generously sponsored by the YMCA) and volunteering as an instructor, I have lost 30 pounds and added muscle mass; my heart rate is healthier than it was when I was in my 20s. I also took Zumba Gold and group exercise training. I treat my body with respect and, in October 2012, quit drinking and smoking - I haven't looked back since.

I still volunteer and now also have a paid instructor gig for the University of Alberta.  My advice to others is to get support, set goals, do it in group settings, and reward yourself with a before and after picture. Start small, like getting rid of chips or drinking lots of water. Through diligence and passion your dreams can come true.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

All About that Bass? Fat Shaming and Body Acceptance

I really enjoy Meghan Trainor's song, All About that Bass.  I was listening to it yesterday in the car and started thinking some deep thoughts.

An image from the All About the Bass video. Do they represent different sizes?

Here's a snapshot of the lyrics:

Yeah it's pretty clear, I ain't no size two
But I can shake it, shake it like I'm supposed to do
'Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
All the right junk in all the right places
I see the magazines working that Photoshop
We know that sh*t ain't real
Come on now, make it stop
If you got beauty beauty just raise 'em up
'Cause every inch of you is perfect
From the bottom to the top
Yeah, my momma she told me don't worry about your size
She says, boys they like a little more booty to hold at night
You know I won't be no stick-figure, silicone Barbie doll,
So, if that's what's you're into
Then go ahead and move along

So, great! An anthem for women about loving your body.  But, wait a second.  She goes on:

I'm bringing booty back
Go ahead and tell them skinny b*tches Hey
No, I'm just playing I know you think you're fat

Wait, what? That's kind of mean.  It turns out, this is an anthem for some women, only those who think of themselves as having "a little more booty". But, plot twist - even skinny girls think they're fat so does that make this an anthem for them, too? (P.S. That's called body dysmorphia, and it's a real disorder.)

I wish we could find ways to help everyone honor and love their bodies without putting others down, and I'm not alone in that.  There's the Health at Every Size Campaign. And, there's Whitney Way Thore behind the No Body Shame campaign. She loves to dance and her campaign started with putting out videos of herself dancing.  Here's her "Zumba edition" video!

Critics of body acceptance warn that the movement is dangerous, that it encourages people to settle for and even intentionally maintain unhealthy bodies. I really understand this concern, and that's why the best messages about body acceptance recognize that loving and respecting your body is the FIRST step to a health journey. If you don't care about your body, why would you eat vegetables over pizza? Why would you go for a walk around the block? As Whitney says, body shame is "a complex, multi-faceted issue that is best dealt with by first unapologetically loving yourself as you are, without being shamed out of a gym or off a dance floor. A movement that knows positive change can’t start or be sustained until you are truly kind to yourself from the inside out."

One of the things that I love about Zumba is that we can all do it, even if we're starting slow. Zumba instructors are of all different sizes, and I think that sends a great message to students. What do you think?

P.S. I hope we can all continue to enjoy the song after this... no offense to Meghan Trainor intended!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Question of the Week: Brought to you by Ebola and my head cold

Don't worry, this post isn't really about Ebola. It is inspired, however, by the head cold I caught on Monday and all the talk of getting sick in the news. I started to feel that telling throat tickle on Monday night, and by Tuesday morning I was definitely sick. I had to cancel a Zumba class I was supposed to sub on Tuesday night - total bummer.

Needed one of these this week.
I foolishly thought I would be well enough by my regular Wednesday evening class, but by mid-morning I knew I wouldn't be ready. I contacted all the subs on my gym's list but didn't hear back from anyone. I knew the show must go on, so I took a power nap and went to class. I smiled and sang along as always, and made it to the end.

I posed the question on Facebook: Do you teach when you're sick if you can't find a sub?
  • About 75% of you said that you push through a head cold and teach, with the logic being if you can stand, you can dance. Many of you said your students deserve to have their regularly scheduled class. That's commitment!

  • Wait a second. Some of you warned against the culture of "being a trooper" or acting tough, because it's important to listen to your body. As Nancy said, "You're not doing brain surgery!" Good reminder to take a break from being a multi-tasking perfectionist (ahem) and to get the rest we need when we need it.

  • Wendy, Margie, and others said getting out of bed and going to class makes you feel better. On the other hand, a bunch of people mentioned that if you're contagious you put your students at risk. As Kristi said, "Not only do we expose our students, but their families too. Being a mother of 2 children, I'm aware their little bodies don't have the immunity we do." I think the rule of thumb is if you're at the beginning of a cold or have had a fever within 24 hours, you should stay home.

  • One person shared an instance when she was so ill that she fell asleep without finding a sub and was to weak to get to her class the next day. The gym was mad but she felt it would have been dangerous to drive. I've been that sick once or twice and know what it feels like to not be able to do anything. Should gyms be understanding about this type of situation or are we responsible to be there or get a sub no matter what?

  • We all agree on one thing - if your sickness involves frequent restroom trips, CANCEL class!

Feel free to add your thoughts below. And, if you want to weigh in on future Questions of the Week, please friend or follow me on Facebook!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

From the WWW: Observations about Zumba instructors

Have you seen this article? Blogger Lisa Newlin has a pretty funny, and somewhat accurate, take on trends among Zumba instructors. 

She starts by describing what Zumba is:
For those of you unfamiliar with Zumba, it is a torturous aerobics class where we constantly move our hips and do somewhat sexy dancing (although with the size of my hips and my protruding stomach, I would say I look anything but sexy. I look more like I'm having a seizure.)

She notes our affinity for bright colors, rubber bracelets, and Zumbawear (yep!). She says we all must be able to chew gum and walk at the same time (probably true!). She says we all must look good while we work out, which I would say is one of the more controversial statements. Just the other day there was quite a debate on Facebook about whether one should wear make up when teaching or not. 

Anyway, Lisa's article is good for a chuckle and a little insight into what might be on students' minds. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

ZINspiration Monday with Kirsten Vieira

Today's ZINspiration comes from Kirsten Vieira of Damascus, MD. She has taught Zumba for about four years. Kirsten volunteers at a local school and her story will inspire all of us to share our Zumba love!

Kirsten is in the headlock-esque hug in the middle!

My friend Wendy, a fellow ZIN and one of my mentors, taught a Zumba class at our gym that I attended regularly. One day several years ago, some special needs teens from the high school were doing a work project at the gym, and we noticed several of them with their noses pressed against the window watching us. Wendy, being the lovely person that she is, opened the door and invited them to join us!

The rest is history. The special education teacher was thrilled with the way the kids responded, and asked us if we would do a class at the school for the whole special education department. We did one, and it was SO MUCH FUN!! We started doing a regular class for them, at the school's request. Many teachers have commented on how the music and dancing have brought the kids out of their shells and have helped them express themselves.  It was so amazingly rewarding and exhilarating for both us and the kids! We felt like rock stars whenever we walked into gym as we were greeted with cheers and whoops of joy!

It's the most rewarding class that I teach all week. While I love all my classes and Zumba students, there's something unique about teaching people with special needs. I see kids who are non-verbal just light up when the music starts! Teens with down syndrome holding hands and dancing together, a paralyzed boy in a wheelchair grinning from ear to ear as his teacher pushes his chair in time to the music, teens who are overweight and "uncoordinated" experiencing the joy (and health benefits) of movement and music in a safe and positive environment... I could go on and on!

The rewards of teaching this class, while not monetary, are far greater than a paycheck. My rewards are the smiles, whoops, high-fives and hugs that I receive at each class.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

How I get ready to teach Zumba...

Where else do you practice your moves?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dance Fitness Exposé! Part II: Doonya

On Tuesday night I tried Doonya, a dance fitness format that was totally new to me! According to the website:

Doonya aspires to be the globally accessible fitness lifestyle for women and their families that instills confidence in body and mind, energizing them to be sources of joy to all who surround them. Through Bollywood-inspired movement, we blend science and art with awareness and expression. We stand at the Eastern and Western outlooks on wellness, celebrating the oneness of all cultures. 

Photo credit:

Like Zumba, the Doonya format repeats moves within each song and progresses from simple movements to full dance routines. I found it very easy to follow. The instructor consistently reminded us to just have fun and allowed us to add our own touches to the moves - so there was no pressure to perform exactly as she did. The music was mostly inspired by forms of Indian dance, but there were a few pop songs thrown in for fun.

Here is a short video with more information:

I really enjoyed this class. The studio was beautiful, the instructor was friendly, and my classmates were welcoming. I highly recommend this class if you want to brush up on Bollywood style or just try something different.

And, there's good news! The Z Beat readers can sign up for a FREE class at Doonya's studio in midtown Manhattan using promo code ZBEAT when signing up for a class here! The code expires on 10/31/14. Thanks to the Doonya team for this opportunity.

Not near NYC? Check out the Doonya DVD! The DVDs will definitely give you new Bollywood-style moves to infuse in your classes.

This is not a sponsored post, and all opinions are honest and my own!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Dancing Down Memory Lane

I know that, like me, many of you were involved with dance as a kid - whether it was in school, after school, or at home with family. I was looking at an awful dance recital photo of myself and it got me thinking about my pre-Zumba dance life....

Recital hair-dos:
For a curly-haired girl like me, these were the worst. You want me to get THIS head of hair into a bun THAT size? Don't think so.

Shamelessly practicing everywhere:
I remember dancing through the supermarket, the halls of my school, and at family functions. What's that? You've seen me doing this recently? Guilty. But I used to do it much more.

The Grind workout DVDs:
Remember Eric Nies? I went through a phase in which I did his workout DVDs everyday. I honestly still remember some of the choreo. The moves were so 90s, it cracks me up just thinking about doing the butterfly in my living room.

Adults requesting on-the-spot shows for their friends:Am I a clown? Do I amuse you? Ok, I secretly enjoyed it. The best might have been when I was a little kid and was asked to perform a routine with a friend. We picked the song Daisy Dukes (remember that one?). #Inappropriate

Pictures like this:
Oh em gee. Why was it OK to dress us up like flowers/ munchkins/ prisoners/ hippies/ whatever and parade us around like this?

(And yes, this is me. Also, point proven on why a bun was so complicated.)

P.S. LAST CALL (I promise): One day left to get your Single Single Double Tee.  $16 each, but only available until tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Who Got You Into Zumba? (Part III)

Here's the final installment of your awesome stories.

(And, one last plug for The Z Beat's tee shirt fundraiser! Please consider placing your order - only a couple of days left! If we don't hit 50 orders, we won't get our shirts. Thanks for supporting The Z Beat!!)

Diane: My sister dragged me to my first Zumba class about 6 years ago. There were only 2 classes in our area. The instructor was not very friendly or helpful and her music and routines were more about hip hop and dancing. She was even quoted saying dance was the most important thing in Zumba. There was a clique of women and if you didn't belong, you were ignored. So, a year and a half ago my sister and I became licensed instructors. We work for our City's Parks and Rec Program. Our class has had over 70 students some months; we are having a ball and have made new friends. Their friendship and stories about their accomplishments keep us going!

Alison: I took my first Zumba class about 3 years ago. My weight was out of control and I was really depressed. My sister told me to come to a Zumba class she was taking. Well about 10 minutes into class I almost gave up, but I didn't want to be the girl who walked out of a class. I stayed and did my best to keep up. Each class after that got easier and easier... I found myself looking for more and more Zumba classes. I just couldn't get enough! I am a very shy person and I was always in the back, but one night in class my instructor pulled me up to do a song with her! I don't think I was ever so nervous in my life! My instructor boosted my confidence in a tremendous way and I no longer stood in the back of the class. I can't thank my instructor, Sarah enough! Because of her I went to my B1 training this past May.

Tammy: I was really out of shape so decided to join the YMCA. I took my first Zumba class there and fell in love! I lost 15 pounds but then hurt my back… had to stop going to Zumba, put on 30 pounds and had to have surgery. I was told by my doctor that I had to strengthen my core and lose more weight or I'd have to have a disk fusion the next time. That was enough to scare me, so I went to Game Stop and bought Zumba Fitness Rush for the Kinect in June 2012. I did it every single day, sometimes twice, and dropped 65 pounds in 5 months!! I went from a size 18 to a size 4. For Mother's Day, my husband and children signed me up for the B1 training in June of 2013, and the rest is history. I hated exercise, but ZUMBA was so much fun that I didn't mind. Now I'm studying for my AFAA group fitness certification and exercise regularly (not just Zumba). I teach several classes and look and feel better at 39 than I did throughout my 20s!!!

Jules: Saw commercials about it, I knew I needed to work out but didn't care for it at all, even though I LOVED dancing. I went to my first Zumba class and LOVED it, and a year later I got my license.

Mollie: I had been seeing the infomercials and hearing about Zumba classes but there were very few in my area until a terrific Zumba instructor opened a studio in the next small town. She had taught around the area, but when she offered a free class in something called Zumba Gold, my friend and I decided to give it a try. I was 62 and had searched for years for an exercise program I would stick with.  Guess what! One 30 minute free lesson and I was a convert! I took Zumba B1 about four months later and Zumba Gold about 3 months after that and teach 3 times weekly to a wonderful variety of students! The memory work alone will keep my brain active and the physical activity is wonderful for me and I have fun doing it! How great is that?!

Maryann: The commercials for the DVD. I was teaching a dance fitness class called Cardio Party and ordered for ideas and then it was Tanya B...her love of the program was contagious in B1.

Mel: I was stationed in Ft. Benning, GA with my husband who is in the military. My friend Claudia asked me to join her in the gym for a Zumba class.. I didn’t know what it was! I was so frustrated because I did not know the steps but I kept going for 2 years. On Christmas of 2013 I had a light package under the tree with a confirmation for an instructor training from my husband. :-)

Stevie: My trainer [got me started] because I would always dance to the workout music. She told me our local YMCA has Zumba and I should try it.  So I went. I was so far in the back of the room, I was almost in the lobby, but I loved the music, I was having fun and So I just kept going to as many classes as they had, making friends and becoming part of the Zumba family along the way. Almost 5 years later, I'm in the front row of every class, I'm a ZIN, lost over 50 pounds, and I've even had the privilege of dancing with Beto. But more than that, however, is the moniker I now have:  Zumba Mama and that means the world to me!

Mindy: My amazing cousin, Ida from Smithtown, NY reeled me in to the amazing Z-Life. She began teaching in 2007 when not too many knew what Zumba was (lol!). We grew up dancing from a very young age. We shared the stage in many, many recitals. I was ready to go back to the grind of a corporate career. I was pursuing the “perfect” job LOL. Little did I know that after my cousins indefatigable persistence (because she knows me better than anyone). all I had to do was take 3 Zumba classes and that desire to re-enter the corporate world was squelched forever!!!!! In April of 2008 I did B1 with the amazing Tanya Beardsley. One month later, my cousin and met the amazing, Ali Ramirez, in a ZG Training. Today, thanks to my Zumba mama I found that “perfect” job – on the dance floor – and never looked back!! Ponce de Leon didn’t find the Fountain of Youth --- Beto Perez did!!

Monday, October 6, 2014

ZINspiration Mondays: Tony Santiago

This week’s ZINspiration is dedicated to the MEN who take Zumba! Tony Santiago is a cheerleader for fellow guys who enjoy this workout format despite being highly outnumbered and sometimes stereotyped.  Let's hear it for the boy(s)!

The Z Beat: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Prior to Zumba, I was a dance music activist and had an online radio show for years.  I started Zumba in 2012 at the New York Sports Club in Scarsdale, NY.  Elida was my first instructor.  I took Zumba because I had learned that I had type 2 diabetes and I needed something to do and Zumba looked like fun (based on seeing the infomercials).  Admittedly it was intimidating at first, especially since Elida was very high energy, and I was trying to keep up.  My stubbornness to get the moves right was the reason I’ve stayed with it, and eventually I fell in love with it.

I really kickstarted myself with Zumba this past February (as a way to combat personal problems).  I met a lot more instructors along the way and went to a master class for the first time. I started up the Z Factor groups on Facebook as a way to get out information.   Many students and eventually ZINS joined up and through that we’ve created a network.  The ZINS, specifically Julie D., convinced me to go on the path to teaching so I received my ZIN license in May.  I still have to get my full 60 minutes in, but it’s coming along.

The Z Beat: What is it like being a man in a female-dominated fitness movement?
I knew going into this that not many men were going to be in a Zumba class. But I didn’t expect the level of excitement by the female students over a man joining the group.  So even though I was dancing alongside the ladies, all eyes were really on me to see how I would handle it and stay the course because many men bail out (I’ve seen it!).  But I stuck around and after about a week I felt comfortable.  I eventually picked up the moves and made many friends.  I just had to think of it as having fun and just enjoying it all. 

The Z Beat: What seems to be the fear with men regarding Zumba?
The male ego.  The name “Zumba” may sound “corny” to them.  Guys also figure that it’s a “woman thing” (being that Zumba classes are dominated by women with some classes having no men at all) so they’re not going to embarrass themselves and look stupid, especially if they feel that they have two “left feet.”  Most new guys that try Zumba only stay in a class for ten minutes.  They’ll do the warm up song with no issues.  However, once the dancing really kicks in on the second song, guys might feel they can’t keep up with all of the ladies doing the routine with ease.  Once that song is over, the guys that are intimidated would leave, feeling that they no longer want to “look the fool.”  They don’t necessarily understand that people who have been taking Zumba classes for a while know the movements already since they’ve done it many times before. 

For men that do stay the entire class, they eventually see the fun, start to sweat, feel at ease with the encouragement they get from the female students, and realize at the end that they were getting a good workout in the process.  Those are the guys that come back.

The Z Beat: What should instructors know about teaching with men in the class?

During the instructor intro, work it into the speech somehow – there is no judgment and that you don’t need to have John Travolta’s moves to get a good workout.  Also, let guys know that it was a man who invented Zumba (Beto Perez, of course). Men also need to know by sticking the course and coming back to Zumba every week, they would be up to speed like the ladies in the class that have been taking Zumba for a while.

Also, and this happened to me in the beginning while taking another instructor, don’t make the guy a “target” or the butt of jokes if he’s not moving up to speed as the other students are.   It’s hard enough for a guy to go into a Zumba class in the first place, especially if he is the ONLY one in there.  He may take one or two jokes in stride but if he’s constantly getting picked on in front of the other women by the instructor, that will eventually turn him off and you could have lost someone that would really have wanted to be part of the Zumba experience. 

Just be encouraging and positive.  Somewhere in the second song, check on the man to see if he’s having fun and enjoying the class.  As long as an instructor is paying attention to the guy in a positive way, chances are that he may stick around past that ten minute mark. 

The Z Beat: Anything else to share?

I look forward to every Zumba class that I take and love the experience! I will NEVER give it up!  I even have a license plate that says “ZUMBRO”- lol! In cases where there are other guys taking a Zumba class with me, the bro-code kicks in, whereas we’re supporting one another for being the proud and the few. In general, I no longer think of myself as the only guy in a class, even when I am.  I just think of myself as part of the class and the ladies have accepted me as one of them.  It became a “family” in that sense. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Who Got You Into Zumba? (Part II)

These stories are so awesome, today I have a bunch of new ones for you (and more to come)!

Before we get to them, a quick announcement about The Z Beat's first Tee Shirt Special! Aside from the hilarious inside joke (don't all instructors think this every time they hear a song?), these Tees will provide a little support to keep The Z Beat going.

They're only $16, but they ONLY get printed (and we only get charged) if 50 people buy them in the next 6 days.  Please consider purchasing one, and thanks for your support!

Mary: Two and a half years ago I was overweight, depressed and low on energy, and my Zumba fanatic friend Mindy talked me into going with her just once a week. I was totally captivated by the instructor, Gee-Gifford, but it took a year to really get my bearings. Over the course of the next year I met several other fabulous instructors, most especially Robin, who showed an interest in me by inviting me to events outside the world of the regular class. By the end of that second year, I got my license and those two special people began to mentor me in their own ways, along with several others who showed me great kindness and support. Now I am 80 pounds lighter; I am healthier and happier than ever before; I consider both Gee and Robin dear friends, and had the great pleasure of going with them and several other ZIN friends to Convention last month. I am grateful that I have become a part of this vibrant community.

Torey: My cousins tried to get me to try Zumba for months. I used to have a low self-esteem and no confidence...very shy and overweight. I went with them one day and loved it. Then I got up the courage and tried it at my gym. I use to watch others do one day I took Omar’s class and became one of his biggest fans. He is not only my instructor but a great friend. He is the best and he motivates me like no other, and he has changed my life. I not only have great instructors I also have met some amazing friends who are all so positive! Because of Zumba I have lost over 60lbs and 5 pant sizes. I am now a Zumba addict and go at least 5 times a week. It has changed my life forever!

Lori: I always give credit of my love for Zumba to Brent aka Zumba Kraze! I walked into his class 3 years ago weighing 240lbs. I was the fat girl in the back of class trying to hide. I think it only took a week and I was a front row diva. I've now been an instructor for 2 1/2 years and weigh 130! It was his unbelievable passion that changed my life. I met Karla 2 years ago when I had to move to a different state. She welcomed me into her classes and has become a mentor and beautiful friend. I don't think these 2 fabulous people could ever understand how much of an impact they've made in my life as a person or Zumba instructor.

Sandy: Last May I was having a lot of back issues, laying on the couch gaining weight being depressed. My good friends Kim and Marie had me walking with them (as often as they could get me out the house) then told me I WAS going to try this Zumba that was coming to our little town. Of course I said no, I can't, I'm not gonna like it, I hurt etc. Well, they dragged me kicking and screaming (lol). I could hardly move, my knee and back hurt so bad they said I had to try it a few times (oh, by the way, they are in their mid 30s I'm 48) so I went back a few more times.....each time I did a little more and fell in love! In May (1 yr later) I got licensed in Aqua & kids and am teaching and feel AMAZING! My depression is gone and my back feels so much better with no meds or treatments (I still have to watch some movements and modify) and the doctor says I have built up muscles around my back to help with the support and the 30 lbs I lost took a lot of the strain off. My husband says to everyone "Zumba gave me back my happy-go-lucky wife"!

Charise: My husband & I took ballroom dancing at a small studio near our house. The owner of the studio always said that when my husband & I came for the group lessons the classes were SOO much fun.. She wanted me to teach Zumba for her! I had never heard of Zumba and I was only 6-7 months out of cancer treatments. Cancer had left me with a disabled leg & I couldn't believe she thought I could teach Zumba. I bought the DVDs (2008) and memorized the entire POWER DVD. Took the B1 training 1/2009 & began teaching the first week of 2/2009. My leg has slowly deteriorated over the years but I manage to continue teaching Zumba!

Ilse: It wasn't even 1 instructor!  It was all the instructors and a bunch of women in class that encouraged me to teach!  And I love being on the other end now where I can encourage a student to teach :)

Marjorie: Many years ago when I was in high school my Spanish class went to (not sure of spelling) "Folklorico de Mexico" and I just loved the dance and bright colored costumes. I never was in dance but in 2010 when I saw the infomercial I had to get it. I spent the next year trying to get my local gym into Zumba, then in 2013 I went for my training.

Peggy: My niece was doing it and always talking about it. After about a year she had lost 100 lbs! I was sold! I had to start! 1st class I thought I was going to pass out! But something told me to keep going. I was hooked! 40 lbs lighter and I became an instructor.  :)

Cory: Tanya B. [got me started]. I was teaching fitness at a women's circuit training club and someone mentioned Zumba.  I had never heard of it - there wasn't anyone teaching it in my rural central NY neck of the woods. So I googled Zumba and the first video that came up was "Hips Don't Lie/Bamboo" with Tanya B.  I said "OMG! I HAVE to learn this and I want to learn it from HER".  So I checked and found out that the great Tanya B was holding a B1 training at 24 Hour Fitness in New York City. That was August 22, 2009 and that road trip was a 50th birthday gift to myself. I was the only one in a room of 55 peole that raised their hand when Tanya asked who had never taken a Zumba class before. I was scared spitless but once the training began I was mesmerized!! At our break for lunch, in a rare one on one moment Tanya said she had been watching me and that she felt I would be great. OMG! Five years, a TB, B2 training and several of her master classes later I am still in love with Zumba.  And I miss Tanya B and her marvelous spirit that spoke to me that day and gave me the confidence I needed to go for it!