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?

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