Monday, March 30, 2015

ZINspiration Mondays with Suzi

Suzi lost nearly 70 pounds with Zumba and eating right. She is now an inspirationl instructor and a great role model for her kids! Here is her story.

It all began two years ago, in April 2013. I went on holiday to the Canary Islands and spent the whole time covered up as I was so uncomfortable being overweight and felt very self conscious. I decided to do something about it when I got home.

A friend of mine had just started at a local gym and asked me to tag along with her to Zumba. To be honest, I had no idea what Zumba was... I had seen it advertised here and there but as someone who never did the gym thing I never got to see a class in action. So, I arrived at the gym, layered in clothing under the illusion that layering hid everything (yeah, right - I know better now!). I was dripping after about 5 minutes and thought I was going to pass out. I hid in the back and stared back and forth from the clock to the door to the clock... I was so out of shape it was scary. But, as soon as it was over I felt amazing. I had finished it; I had lasted the hour. And that was it... I was hooked!!

I went to classes 3 times a week and that's when I started to chat to the instructor, Maggie, who became my amazing mentor and friend. She kept me motivated and kept the classes exciting. I just hated missing them! I went to master classes and amazing charity events and was inspired at every turn.

When my instructor suggested I take the B1 course the following February (in 2014), I said 'why not?'. I knew Zumba was going to be a huge part of my life so whether I did it just for me or to teach in the future, I knew it would be such an accomplishment. So, I got my B1 license with the amazing Herman Melo. I filled in for my lovely instructor a few times after that and once I had done a few classes and got over the nerves I knew I wanted to be up there inspiring others, showing them that I was once where they are.

Zumba has changed my life not just physically but mentally and emotionally too. I was a shy, quiet girl with major confidence issues and Zumba gave me an outlook I have never had before! I'm now happy, confident and full of energy. I started my journey at 15stone 6lbs. (216 lbs.) and I am now 10stone 7 lbs. (147 lbs.). I struggled to change my eating habits at first... being a mum of 3 young girls all under age 8, I would just grab and go a lot. Meals were pretty much pasta- and potato-based and my portions were always huge as I would hardly eat all day then pig out with dinner. But, once my body started to change I wanted to keep it that way. I never want to go back, so I now look at food and see it as fuel rather than a treat. I had a lot of support from my fabulous mentor Maggie who would keep me going when I had a day where I felt like pigging out!

Once my Zumba journey was well on its way I decided to try a few more things. I started using kettlebells and saw my body change yet again. I was toning up quickly so that was it... I went on to do my gym instructor course and got certified as a kettlebell instructor. I am now teaching 6 classes a week, 3 Zumba, 2 kettlebells and a circuit class and I still amaze myself everyday!

So, a big piece of advice is to always have a great support network before you start... someone who you can call or text when you feel the urge to overdo it. I would also say to anyone who is sitting there thinking "I will never be able to change" - this is just the way I was! Believe me, don't live your life never knowing what your body is truly capable of. We are amazing!

Need more ZINspiration? Check it out here!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Z Beat's Spring Grab Bag Giveaway!

I'm getting ready for Spring (despite the snow and cold)! Let's shake off the winter with treats to get you ready for a new season of dance, fitness, and fun.
Enter below before midnight EST on April 4th (so, enter on or before Friday!) for your chance to win:
  • Zumba drawstring bag... this thing is huge - perfect for all of your class essentials!
  • Zumba bracelets to add to your collection
  • Post-class snacks: FRS energy drink and Detour protein bar
  • Bath and Body Works Shea Butter moisturizer (one of my faves)
  • EOS chapstick... ya know, the egg-shaped kind
  • A surprise gift, not pictured here :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
A winner will be selected randomly via Rafflecopter. No purchase necessary. Any questions/disputes will be decided by The Z Beat.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Cross-Training with Barre Classes (guest post!)

Today's post comes from a very special guest blogger! You may remember Kristi from an early ZINspiration Monday post. She is a Zumba instructor and health/fitness blogger. Today, Kristi is sharing how she uses Barre classes as a complement to Zumba.

I'm so excited to be a guest blogger for The Z Beat! I've been following along for a while now and love seeing all the instructor spotlights, music posts and of course all the other health and wellness info. I've spent the last couple years focusing on my health, making some major life changes and even became a Zumba instructor! You can read my blog at or follow me on Facebook.

Because I needed a little variety in my workouts after the holidays I decided to sign up for a 60-day challenge with my local barre studio to mix things up, and boy has it! If you are looking to tone, tighten and strengthen your arms, legs, booty, abs and back this is the workout for you. 

So what do you need to know before you step up to the barre for the first time?
  • Low/No Impact: Like aqua classes, barre is a great way to work your muscles without putting lots of stress on your bones and joints. AND it's a great workout for expecting mamas. It uses small targeted movements with light weights to strengthen and plenty of repetition to build intensity.
  • The music is bumpin'!: Who would have thought? I was worried that barre would be reserved with classical music playing...not true. I was VERY happy to find out that the playlist is pretty similar to my Zumba playlist!
  • Work it!: Barre targets your muscles and overloads them to the point of fatigue, then stretches them out. Get ready to test your inner strength, trust me it's totally worth it!
  • See and feel the difference: I'm nearly finished with my 60-day challenge and am very happy to report that I have lost several inches, my Zumba classes have become a little easier thanks to my toned and tightened muscles and my lower back (which tends to give me problems) feels strong and stable. You will see some amazing results if you stick with barre.
If think barre could be a good fit for you I encourage you to shop around and find a class that you enjoy. There are lots of different barre methods out there so don't worry if you aren't a fan of the first class you attend. When in doubt do a Yelp search or ask around and see if any of your friends have tried a class, or better yet, plan a girls night out and try out your local studio in good company.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Home Office Connection Experience

Here's a sneak peak into my experience at the NYC Home Office Connection. If you've never been to one, they include a master class and updates from the home office. Great way to feel connected to the broader Zumba community.

To the folks who I met in person - it was great to connect! And to so many of you readers who were there but we didn't run into each other... darn. Hope to meet you another time!

Pregame music on my way to the train. Love me some 90s dance music!

Choreographing a new warm up routine on the train!
The Line... we waited for a while but it was nice to connect with people while we were standing around!

Master class with Armando - he was AMAZING!
Then there was this group-cumbia-hold-hands thing... I decided to take a picture rather than get mixed up in it.
After the master class, Nancy and Gina from the HO gave some updates. They previewed a Zumba cruise (for real!)... more details on that by email to come.

Not pictured: Introductions of all the ZESs and ZJs! I didn't take any pics but Marysol, Kim, Michele, and Val were all there! (I had to leave before the event ended so I didn't get a chance to say hi to everyone - hi, ZJs!)

One of the best parts of the evening was when we heard from Soaringwords, an organization that brings joy to injured and ill people in hospitals. A team of ZINs partnered with Soaring words to dance with kids in a local hospital. They were truly inspiring!

Have you been to an HOC? What did you like? What else would you like to see?

Monday, March 23, 2015

ZINspiration Mondays with Tameka

Tameka lost a TON of weight by doing Zumba and changing her eating habits. She became a ZIN to inspire others... and I'm sure she'll inspire you! Here's her story.

Zumba has changed my life in every way possible. In the past , I tried tons of ways to lose weight. Seeing myself at 270 pounds, I finally decided to try something new.

Tameka before Zumba (beautiful but ready for a change)

I always loved to dance so I tried a Zumba class with my girlfriend at the YMCA. I loved everything about it... my instructor's energy, the songs, the movements. I was hooked!! I was so excited to find an activity that I could do, that I rearranged my entire life so I could attend as many classes as possible.

Once I got going, I changed my diet and started experimenting with smoothies and clean eating. Over three years I dropped 120 pounds!! It literally melted off... I think a lot of it was because I had an outlet to get rid of a lot of my stress!!!

Tameka after!

After thinking about it for a long time, I decided to get my Zumba license. I now transfer that passion and love for Zumba, music and dance to my members!!! I feel complete as a person. I'm actually heading into a new phase of my life as I'm turning 40 this year, but because of Zumba I still get carded (lol!). 

GREAT job, Tameka!

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Half Marathon PR (and why I can't enjoy it)

I ran a half marathon last weekend. My abbreviated running bio is that I didn't grow up running, had a so-so experience at a half in Spring 2010, took some time off from running during grad school, and did my first run-all-the-way half marathon in the fall. This past weekend, I felt great the whole way and beat my fall finish time by 11 minutes (and that's with stopping to say hi to my father!).

So, why do I have these nagging things in my head trying to diminish my accomplishment of a PR (personal record)? WTH?

I'm NOT writing this for praise or pity. My brain knows how awesome it is to accomplish any goal, and especially to accomplish something that you had to work for over time. And, I mean, half marathon! Yet, I can't help but feel a little less than excited about a few aspects of this whole experience... so I'm sharing my thoughts because I bet some of you can relate. Here goes.

Seriously? Argh!

Strange self-deprecating thought #1: It wasn't a full marathon.
You train so hard that it starts to feel easy (which is the whole point of training!). This may definitely sounds crazy, but there have been times where I have double triple checked by GPS watch to see if I really had been running for X hours or covered Y miles... as if I couldn't believe I had actually done it. Anyway, you work your tail off to get ready for an event like this and then feel like... maybe you could have done more. How many times I've thought, "well, it's only a half marathon... I mean, a full marathon, there's a real challenge!"... I tried to combat this feeling by posting this on Instagram the morning of the race - but reminding myself of this sentiment is tougher than it should be!

A photo posted by Jennifer Lauren (@thezbeat) on

Strange self-deprecating thought #2: I didn't win.
Ok, I'm being a little cheeky - obviously I didn't expect to win, or even finish in the top 50%. But running can feel like it's all about the numbers: how many miles, how long, pace, elevation, number of power gels - you get the idea. And even though I PR'ed you just can't help but compare yourself to others. Could I have been faster? Maybe. I'm always torn between pushing beyond what you think your limits are and pushing too hard to the point of injury or hitting a wall mid-race. The reality is, you'll just never know... you can't recreate a race because there are too many variables (training effort, weather, what you ate the week before, etc.). You just have to trust that you did your best on race day.

Strange self-deprecating thought #3: I gained weight! Perhaps the worst mind trick of all. I didn't sign up for this half marathon to lose weight. It didn't even cross my mind. But, seeing your weight go up - even just by a few pounds -  after running 13 freakin' miles (not to mention all the training) is just hard to swallow. I know that this is not a new or me-specific phenomenon. Lots of other runnerbloggers have written about this. I mean, I even wrote a post about how muscles retain water after exercise as part of the recovery process. But, c'mon dude.

Strange self-deprecating thought #4: It's over.
All good things come to an end. Apparently all things that are kind of torturous but somehow also empowering also come to an end. I wonder if thoughts #1-3 are just part of some sort of postpartum thing that runners go through. Once it's over, you can't go back and change how fast you went or your pre-race fuel. You also aren't distracted by your training schedule. You're just back to being plain old you.

So... what's left to do? Maybe plain old me needs to sign up for my next race. :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Meet a Zumba Jammer: Valerie S.!

If you've been reading for a while, you know I'm a fan of Jam sessions. I've also profiled a few Jammers - Sarah, Kim, and Marysol. Their job is to make our job easier and more fun! I had the opportunity to interview another awesome jammer, Valerie S., who specializes in Reggaeton. Her story is funny, poignant, and real. Read on to learn more about Val!
The Z Beat: When did you get your B1 license? Other specialty licenses?

I got my B1 license in 2010 under duress (see below!)! My Zumba Kids & Kids, Jr. (then, Zumbatomic) in 2011, my Toning in 2013 and my B2 only a year ago (so I could apply for Jammer!).

The Z Beat: Do you teach Zumba full time? If not, what else do you do?


I am a full-time group fitness instructor and personal trainer. I also handle basic social media for Synergy Fitness and I help all the clubs with their group fitness programs. 

The Z Beat: What got you into Zumba? How has Zumba impacted your life?

What got me into Zumba was nothing short of bullying!!! I was not much of a group fitness instructor. I taught Spin and subbed other classes, but I wasn't really a lover of classes at all. I hadn't had enough exposure to good teachers, in hindsight, and I did much more personal training because of it. I preferred to lift and do cardio on my own.
I remember looking in on Peggy Vint, the first instructor to bring Zumba to Synergy Fitness, and thinking 'OMG...who MOVES like that!?'. I taught a spin class that overlapped her Zumba class by about 40 minutes. My spin class was off the chain!! Along comes Zumba and half way through my crazy spin class, you could actually hear the Zumba class over my spin music. MY spin music!!! So after my class, I would look in (along with everyone else at the gym) and think, "Wow. That looks like fun. I wish...". About a year later, Peggy came to me and said, "Hi! We're opening a new place and I need Zumba teachers, so go get your cert, K? Love ya, let me know when you do it. Bye!"
I had never even taken a Zumba class! These women scared the heck out of me! So I took a Zumba class... Confused, irritated, intimidated... and who are all these women coming 1/2 hour early to get their SPOT!?!? But I went, and then I got licensed with Tanya Beardsley. Amazing. Instant love was I going to remember all this choreo (and about a million other reservations)? Thankfully, I started with a small class and was able to slowly build my confidence and stamina and things started to become second nature (things like, ya know, moving my feet...).
One day, I got a call that Peggy needed a sub. I was TERRIFIED! I walked in to a crowd of 50 people, all decked out in my Zumba cargos with tassles and bells on my bracelets and a Zumba shirt and bandana and they looked at me and said, "you're not Peggy" and a dozen of them just left. The rest of them tolerated me. Not dying or throwing up was the best thing that came of that class. Months passed and the call came... 'Peggy is leaving. You need to fill her spotS' S. WHAT???? WHY ME??? Turns out, the students asked for me!
The first week I taught, I did Zumba Mami and the whole front row stopped dancing. Like, they stood still and just looked at me. They told me, "Peggy did that song. Her dance was different. If you're not gonna do it like Peggy, just don't do it." This was when the fight or flight kicked in. I would give myself the pep talk every time...'you're a single mom...there are three kids that need you to make money and be strong and you don't have a choice'.
It took a week for me to fall head over heels. I started to look forward to returning to each class. I would always use my nervousness as energy and in that hour I would feel what they felt - whatever you want to call that feeling. That feeling is the first way Zumba impacted my life. That hour, all the aches and pains, trials and tribulations, pressure and stresses just disappear and I - WE - are just there.
A few months after I took Peggy's place, a woman came to me after class. She came to me and handed me a Christmas card and said, "You will never ever know what you have done for me. You saved my life. Don't answer and I know you won't judge, but it is time for you to know that you are the reason I'm still alive."
Now, I know that I, Val the Zumba teacher, is not really the reason, but I know that coming to that class to return to herself - that hearing that I am struggling, too, and somehow making it and that Zumba 'saved' me, too - was actually what kept her going day after day. Since, then, there have been so many people who claim that "I" have inspired, encouraged, motivated, helped, pushed and/or saved them. We all know this wasn't me. This was Zumba. This magical world of inhibition. This safe-haven. MILLIONS of us feel this feeling. Zumba's tag line "Let it move you" speaks volumes. It has changed my life completely, for the better. It took me 40 years to find who I am. Now, whether it's the Mom at school, the friend from high school, the childhood buddy, the guy at CVS...I am Val, the Zumba teacher.

The Z Beat: When did you become a Jammer? What’s the best part of being a Jammer?

I just got my contract a few months ago. A call came out for rhythm Jammers and my friend, Dana Morissey, was applying for salsa. She asked why I wasn't applying for reggaeton jammer and I had several answers. First, come on. Who the heck am I??? More practically, I don't even meet the criteria. I needed to take B2. She pointed out that there was a B2 training the day before the application deadline. Not only were there those reasons, but I'm raising 3 kids pretty much by myself. I can't spend that money on something I have no shot at to begin with. Well, Dana thought different. Long story short, she took a collection so that my students and others could pay for my B2 training, so that I could apply. To this day, I am stunned that all these people, especially Dana (if you know her, you know why) believed so strongly that I could be a contender. And, um, I had no choice. It was a long process but, here we are!
I hope the idea of rhythm jams will gain more momentum. The idea of jams has always been to get choreo, which has some people thinking 'why pay $30 to go over a rhythm and get only 2 songs when I can pay the same and get 4-5?'. But, Zumba is a program that is supposed to be uniform. This is what will keep us going as a program. We all know that there are a bazillion Zumba instructors, but we need to make those bazillion all come together and know their rhythms inside and out. So you're only getting 2 songs in a rhythm jam, but you're getting and fine tuned and reminded and motivated and WORKED. The choreo is a bonus!

The Z Beat: What do you think is the hardest part about being a Zumba instructor?
The hardest part about being a Zumba instructor, for me, is the toll it can take on my body. It's hard teaching full time. Keeping yourself healthy and conditioned and pain free is hard to do. Even harder is working through injuries. In this business, you generally don't get paid if you don't work. This, being my only job, doesn't really give me the chance to stay off my foot when it hurts!

The Z Beat: What else should we know about you?
You should know lots. I'm super intimidated by everyone! I hide that behind a sense of humor (a sometimes highly inappropriate sense of humor, lol). I automatically assume if someone is laughing in class, that they are laughing at ME and if they leave it MUST be because they hate me. I actually LIKE my 3 kids. I HAVE to love them, but I don't have to like them...but I do like them. A lot. Even though being a single mom is hard, I love that they can grow up and say they had a strong independent Mom who loved them beyond words and I love that they will (I pray) understand how important it is to do what you love and love what you do. What else.... I eat like crap, I will never take a selfie and I am ALWAYS a minute late...for everything.

The Z Beat: When and where are your upcoming Jams?
My next Jam is Sunday, March 29th at 2:30pm at Synergy Fitness in Syosset, NY. I'm playing with dates in April, but I have a tentative Jam scheduled at Beyond Fitness in CT in early May! I'm looking to venture out of NY for some Jams, so if anyone out of 'here' wants to have a Reggaeton Jam, ring me up!
If you're a Jammer who wants to be featured on The Z Beat, please contact me!

Monday, March 16, 2015

ZINspiration Monday with Pamela

Pamela kicked depression and got healthy with the support of her friends and of course, our favorite workout! Here's her story.

When things were at their lowest, I had retreated from life and was going thru a depression. I didn't want to leave my house. At my heaviest, I was 237. Moreover, my mother had cancer.

Through my mother's illness, I "accidentally" started losing weight. Call it stress, depression, whatever, but I had lost 22 lbs. without any effort. I decided maybe I could walk a little and lose even more. Then my last child moved out and I started eating healthier and not keeping any junk food in the house at all.

To make a very long story short, walking turned to running, and then a friend suggested Zumba. She got her B1 and was going through the same weight loss journey I was. I got my B1 license in January 2014, and I just did Gold training in February and am looking forward to starting that class soon.

Zumba has made my life complete. I've found where I need to be and wish I had found it years ago. Zumba helps me be healthy and makes me want to help others and that's what it's all about... being the best you can be and helping others do the same. I've lost 97 pounds over the course of my healthiness journey and I feel the best I've ever felt.

The hardest part of getting healthy was getting past the years of not being fit and trying to keep the will to go forward. It helps to have someone to encourage you and keep you accountable. My friend and I did that for each other. Another hard part is the haters... and, let's be honest, there are many. There are people that will tell you "you are losing too much weight," or belittle your attempts to get healthy.

My advice for others would be simple... eat healthy and exercise and you will see results. There is no magic pill. You have to do it yourself by hard work and dedication to a healthier lifestyle.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Scale Cycle

I came across the infographic below from Green Mountain, a retreat center focused on health and weight loss. I think it eloquently and clearly captures the possible biological and psychological impacts of weighing yourself.

Photo credit:
I'm not anti-scale; in fact, I think everyone who struggles to maintain or lose weight needs a reliable measure like a scale, tape measure, or even an outfit (time to take notice when it gets too tight!). But, I definitely think people can go overboard with weighing in.

There are many reasons why your weight can fluctuate from day to day. Your body is designed to retain fluid during muscle recovery after lifting or toning exercises and when you're dehydrated. If you let the number on the scale dictate your mood (which, I hope it doesn't!), you can drive yourself crazy worrying about minor ups and downs that in the end aren't actually a reflection of your eating and exercise.

Photo credit:
What do you think of the Scale Cycle?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Hard to Teach Dance Moves Made Easy!

I try to keep my choreo pretty straight forward and easy to follow. To me, Zumba isn't about getting super artsy with the moves - it's about getting a fun workout! But, I do find that some of our go-to moves can be hard to pick up.

I never want anyone to feel frustrated, so I do sometimes preview a move before a song or during the intro. It got me thinking about how to best to teach certain moves... so I took to YouTube and found some great advice!

The Samba
I love the samba, but I had to stop doing a song in my class because it was too fast and almost everyone was modifying it. Here is a great little video with tips that I will definitely share the next time I do this move in a routine!

The Oft-Dreaded Body Roll
You either love it or you hate it. In this clip, the instructor describes thinking about drinking a glass of water and really breaks the move down. Very helpful!

Ok, you might be thinking that everyone knows how to squat - but does everyone squat properly? Heck no. It worries me that students may hurt their knees by doing squats the wrong way when I'm not watching. Here is some great advice.

Pas de Bourrée (or, back-back-front)
I never call this move by its formal name... the French makes it sound way harder than it is! But, the footwork involved in this move can be intimidating. Check out this breakdown to teach the move to your students:

What moves do you break down for your students? Do you avoid tricky moves all together?

Monday, March 9, 2015

ZINspiration Mondays with Victoria

For Victoria, finding Zumba was symbolic of returning to taking care of herself. Here is her story.

My story began in 2009 when my youngest of three suffered a horrible head trauma from falling down our basement steps. Let me just say she is nothing less than a miracle and has suffered no lasting affects.

After she was healed, I took a good look in the mirror and didn't recognize me any more. I found a Zumba class at my daughter's dance studio and took the leap to get fit. I fell so in love with the program and it's message that I became an instructor in 2011, shedding over 50lbs!

When I was at my unhealthiest, life was very stressful. I was so busy taking care of everyone else around me that I forgot to take care of myself. It started to take a toll on my own health both physically and mentally. I was hurting in so many ways. My arthritic pain was at a high, my mood was extremely low and I knew that I had to make a change.

The hardest thing about getting healthy was feeling guilty about taking the time for myself and away from family. I already worked outside of the home and felt that it was just more time that I wouldn't be able to give up. Then I saw how my family was supporting me... my husband and children used to push me to go out and join a class, even though I said I was too tired or had "something to do". They saw the change in me and how much it made me happy. I was relieving stress and exercising while having so much fun!

In turn, everything around me started to change. I was feeling better and it showed from the way I smiled, spoke, and went about my daily life. But more than the weight loss, I found something else on this journey. A way to give back! I am big on fundraising for important causes and helping others as much as I can through Zumba. I want people to see and feel the Zumba Love that I have felt and show others what it can do! The BEST part is that I get to share it with my little miracle! She's at my side helping to raise money, awareness and paying it forward every chance we get. I couldn't be more blessed!

My advice to anyone trying to get healthier is to make sure you surround yourself with positive energy. You want people that are going to be there to encourage you and help you achieve your goals. It's also so important to take care of your mind because you need a healthy mind before you can truly get to having a healthy body. Believe in yourself and just know YOU CAN DO IT! We are all made in different shapes and sizes, but you no matter can be healthy!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

When Fitspiration Goes Bad

I recently shared a Buzzfeed article on Facebook that really got me thinking. The article took what the Internetpeople call Fitspiration memes and pointed out how they can go too far.

I had mixed feelings, because I've definitely posted things in this category on my Instagram and Twitter pages. At the same time, I completely, wholeheartedly, 100% agree that many of these memes take things too far:
  • They don't account for the challenges of real life.
  • They assume that motivation has to be aggressive.
  • They can be triggering for people with eating disorders and body issues in general.
Here are a few of the memes Buzzfeed corrected.

Photo Credit:
I mean, seriously? Does anyone think it's a good idea to lose 10 pounds in a week other than the producers of The Biggest Loser? You gotta be realistic and safe if you want lasting change.
Photo Credit:

I really appreciated this one. Last Friday I had a long run scheduled (preparing for a half marathon on March 15th!) and my body just wasn't feeling it - combination of not enough sleep, improper fueling the day before, and a weird back/neck cramp thing that I woke up with. I ran about 2 miles before realizing it just wasn't worth hurting myself.

Photo Credit:
This one is particularly offensive. We all know that people come in different shapes and sizes. You can be in tip-top shape and not have a body that looks like this (and, maybe you not want a body that looks like this - where are the curves??). It scares me that young women are subjected to things like this online.

Moral of the story is let's motivate and inspire each other without putting ourselves down or being wildly unrealistic. Let's aim to be healthy, not skinny. That's the real "fitspiration"!

You can read the full Buzzfeed article here.

Monday, March 2, 2015

ZINspiration Mondays with Marylin

I'm excited to share Marylin's story, because her ups and downs are super relatable. Here is how Zumba helped shape her life.

This is my story... I was an average size child. When I hit puberty, I gained a considerable amount of weight and low self-esteem settled very quickly. At 17 years old and 180 pounds, my mom took me to a doctor to help me lose weight. It worked, and I was down to 145lbs.

It didn't stop there. I moved to the US and went back to 180lbs. College life, fast food etc....Then I met my ex husband; that's when my life fell apart. Self esteem was below ground level, I was in an abusive relationship and very depressed and suicidal. With the pregnancy of my first child, I became hypertensive. Subsequently, I was put on BP meds. 2 kids later, 240lbs, I gathered what I had left of strength, took my kids and moved out. 

Slowly I began to find myself again and wanted to be happy. I tried all sorts of diets, weight watchers, Jenny Craig, MediFast: you name it, I tried them. They all worked but the weight came back. Fast forward to 2010, my love for Latin music was satisfied with 6 months of salsa lessons, but once it became about competition, I dropped out. In 2011, my daughter told me that they had Zumba at her summer camp. I decided to check it out.

I became hooked!  I met several instructors who after a while, encouraged me to begin teaching myself. I also began to focus on portion control, food choices, and weight training. 60lbs later, I had reached my initial 180lbs. Depression is still my enemy... I gained a few lbs from drowning my pain in chocolate, but with the meds, I feel much better and more ready to inspire others. I got my B1 license in February 2014.

Zumba saved my life because my health has improved a lot and it's my true calling. Finding my life's purpose makes me happy, hence staying away from depression and suicidal thoughts.

Just like I did, you can get healthy again. Of course, there’s no doubt about making healthy food choices in order to get healthy. The good thing about Zumba is that it kills 2 birds with one stone. Physically, you get moving and burn lots of calories, you tone up without realizing that you’re doing a workout. It works! Mentally, and emotionally, Zumba is a lifesaver. It enhances your mood, you have fun, you smile! 

After a rough day, we tend to go home, alienate ourselves and turn to sugar, at least I do. But if you go to a Zumba class, you release all that pressure and stress of the day. A small example in my personal life: One day I went to my doctor with a headache that would not go away (my blood pressure was high), but after being off blood pressure medication for over a year, I was not inclined to go back on them. My doctor said to me, go to a Zumba class today and see how it goes. I didn’t go to a class but I used my DVDs at home and my pressure went back to normal and my mood was so much better. Zumba really changes lives.