Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Eating Right Pre- and Post-Exercise

One of the top questions I've been asked to address on The Z Beat is "What should I eat before and after I workout?" If I had to guess, this is a popular question because there's a lot of conflicting information out there. When I first started researching information for this post, I looked like this stressed out stock photo lady:

 Once I pulled myself together, I found some good info to share. Taking advice from the Washington Post and WebMD, among other places, common recommendations for pre-workout food are:
  • Balance carbs and protein
  • Stick with low fiber foods
  • Eat something low in fat and sugar
  • Hydrate with your meal
Here's a great infographic courtesy of Pinterest with some helpful tips.

You'll want to try different combinations, because everyone is different. For the longest time I would eat a banana before a long run - until I realized it was causing a tummy ache 4 or 5 miles in! Now I eat oatmeal or grits and I feel great.
When it comes to post-workout fuel, the best time to eat is within 30-60 minutes of exercise. Your body needs 10-20 grams of protein and can absorb lots of nutrients in this window, too - so prepare yourself a nice healthy meal and enjoy your post-workout glow! Here are some ideas from Fitness Republic.
What's your favorite pre- or post-workout meal?

Monday, April 27, 2015

ZINspiration Monday with Nekisha

Nekisha found herself unhealthy and unhappy, and decided to become "addicted to health"! Here is her story.

My life before Zumba was very different from my life today. I was on blood pressure, thyroid and cholesterol medicines. I was tired and just didn't know how to get my self going. I knew I had to do something when, after driving home from my child's all star game, I got out of the car and passed out in my driveway. Yikes.

The next day I went to the doctor and was told to change my lifestyle and move more "before you're not here anymore." I took that very seriously and here I am.

My friend introduced me to Zumba and from there I was addicted to getting healthy and fit. The hardest thing was getting over looking at the scale and the impatient me wanting it over night. My two best friends inspired me... they kept pushing me not to give up on what I wanted. Over three years, I went on to lose about 100 pounds.

I got my B1 license on August 29, 2014. My favorite thing about teaching is the faces and smiles I get because I'm helping so many people! I love being a part of their day, getting them fit - there's nothing like it! I absolutely love what I do.

I would definitely say to anyone wanting a new way forward and not knowing how to start to not worry about your dancing skills or what others will think of you; it's for your own good so just do it!!! My 4 kids and husband are happy that I'm healthy and motivating others. I am so very blessed that I may I will see 2 of my boys graduate from high school and I will be able to walk the stadium without getting out of breath. Yes, I'm a very blessed woman indeed!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Question of the Week: How often should I change my playlist?

If you're part of Zumba's social media communities, you know that we often see the same questions coming up over and over again. In the Question of the Week series, I try to synthesize some of the answers I read. Note this is advice from you (the proverbial you, as in "all of yous out there who respond to people's questions on Facebook). As I always say, I'm not in charge of the Zumbaverse so please consider this a compilation of ideas, not a set of hard and fast rules!

In case you missed previous Question of the Week posts:
So, today we ask: How often should I change my playlist?

Everyone has their own advice, and many people swear by whatever their B1 ZES suggested to them. Here are some ideas.
  • Keep 15-20 songs in your playlist. Add a new song each week and remove the oldest one.

  • Use 75% new songs (meaning, you introduced them within the last 8 weeks) and 25% oldies-but-goodies.

  • Introduce one new song each week and mix up the rest, retiring some songs forever when they get too overdone.

  • Use the same playlist for at least a month, giving students a chance to pick up the moves.

  • Add three new songs a week to keep it fresh. (Editorial note from The Z Beat: Whoa! I would never be able to remember three songs a week!)

  • Rotate through the same 3-4 playlists until they become too easy for students.

I admit that I'm more of the 75%/25% type - maybe even 50/50. About half of my songs are usually new, introduced within the last 4-6 weeks, and half are oldies. I always worry that students will get bored (and, maybe they do) but a few of them get so excited when they hear their favorite oldie that I just can't help it. But, every single playlist I've ever used has been unique - I switch up the warm ups and cool downs, and I rearrange the order so it's never obvious as to what's coming up next.

In the end, you have to do what works for you and your class. If you get really nervous about introducing a new, you probably shouldn't offer three new songs a week - talk about anxiety! If you get bored very easily and know that it impacts your energy, you should mix it up more!

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

10 Things Fitness Instructors Think During Class

We've all been there.

1. Is it hotter in here than usual?

2. Maybe that second glass of wine last night was a bad idea.

3. Must. Catch. Breath. And smile. ::pants through smiling mouth::

4. Jeez, what song is this? What do I do? Oh no, the verse is about to start... Oh yeah! ::immediately starts choreo like you knew what was coming the whole time::

5. Single single double. Single single double.

6. To do: laundry, pick up ground turkey for dinner, write out thank you cards, bake cupcakes for - shoot, I'm on the wrong foot. No more daydreaming. And I have to pay my bills...

7. Why did I put three fast songs in a row in my playlist? Who do I think I am?

8. I feel like I'm the only person in the room who's moving. ::yells words of encouragement, sees 50% increase in activity instantly::

9. I'll never be as good as ((name of someone who inspired you to become an instructor)). I wonder if anybody else ever thinks that about me!

10. I love this job.

Monday, April 20, 2015

ZINspiration Monday with Bonnie!

Bonnie has a very special passion for Zumba, one that she found when trying to get healthy after her husband's passing. I'm so glad she shared this story. Here it is.

I got my start as an instructor by taking Jump Start Gold and currently only teach Gold. I took it in July of 2014. I really thought it was a crazy idea as I had a really hard time keeping up in a regular class. But I love teaching Zumba Gold.
I had tried and failed at almost every diet. I have been overweight since my mid twenties and still I kept trying to lose weight only to regain it. My husband and I had foodie relationship. He loved to cook and sometimes we had contests of whose food was the best. We did everything together. Then in '97 he found out he had kidney failure.

I wanted to lose weight to be able to donate a kidney but I was over 340 lbs and I just couldn't get it together. Food was stronger then love, and I failed to lose weight. He really didn't want me to lose weight, it made him feel worse(I know this because we talked about this) When he died I realized just how bad our food addiction really was. He died in 2008 but it wasn't until 2011 that I finally hit the bottom and started my road to recovery from food addiction. I found a website that is called and it helps you figure out your emotional attachment to food and how to overcome it.

When I hit bottom I was dealing with a bad knee and ankle. My dog had run into the back of my knee cap and it messed up my leg. I was limping around for 3 years. Then I twisted my ankle. I run a small pet grooming business with both mobile and in salon service. I couldn't walk so I had to stay at the shop. I borrowed a wheelchair from one of my customers. I realized, during that time, that I had to make a choice. Stay in the wheelchair, become disabled or get off my butt and change myself. I had nobody to cook for, no reason not to chose healthier foods.

It was during the summer of '11 when the first Zumba instructor came on the block where my business is. Right across the street so while I'm in the wheelchair, trapped at my shop, I get to watch all the women having fun at Zumba. There were 3 sessions per night and one in the morning. After my leg was better and I could walk, my friend Vicky insisted that I try Zumba with her. I said I couldn't stand, how did she expect me to dance? "We will find you a chair." Ok, so I went and would sit and stand and sit and stand. No instructor ever acknowledged me or my effort to attend class. But I kept going. I kept going and got a little better, and then a little better because I didn't have to sit the whole time.

Zumba is so different from other exercise so it makes me want to come back. The music, the fact that nobody cares how you dance, or even if you can dance. That allowed me to just move and enjoy the music. I didn't know about how good it would make me feel. I can lose myself in the music and worries just disappear. My grandson would tease me about I would never be able to do Zumba because I couldn't move that fast or dance.

I decided that someone I knew or a family member should become a Zumba instructor so I paid for my grandson's wife to get her B1. She never followed through. I didn't know how much work was required. Then I found out about Jumpstart Gold. I had see some Gold videos on youtube. I thought and thought about it. Then decided I should go ahead because at least I would know how to do Zumba correctly.

In addition to Zumba I also changed everything about my lifestyle. I work with a personal trainer, I shop for fruit and veggies at a Farmers Market, I took a year long class to become a Health Coach. I know that it is slowly coming off. I didn't put it on in one year and it was on my body for almost 40 years. But my inside body is healthy, blood work, blood pressure, blood sugar, liver, everything is good. Just waiting for the outside to catch up. Which it will. I am down 90 lbs from my highest weight. I can walk, run, dance, stand up for an hour. I don't need a cane or a wheelchair to get around. I am proud of what I have been able to do to improve my health. It is not as easy to do this when you are in your 60's so I would encourage anyone who has weight to lose or life style changes to make, do that when you are younger.

Bonnie and her family at a Zumba party!
It took time to make the changes so my advice is to be sure that you don't have a time frame to accomplish your life style changes. To make them last, you have to go slow. Pick one thing you can change, whether it is going to exercise or adding more water daily, or cutting out one thing you want to stop doing too much of(like watching T.V.) or eating candy. One Positive change.

I am 67 years old. I have been a pet groomer for 43 years and own my own business. My grandson is my business partner. My lifestyle changes have had a positive impact on many people in my circle. As the oldest member of my family I feel that helping the rest of my family make positive changes is my responsibility. I want to see my GREAT-GRANDCHILDREN grow up so I am motivated to continue to improve my health.

Need more ZINspiration? Check it out here!

Friday, April 17, 2015

This Week's Thought Provoking Fitness Finds

I've read so many interesting things this week related to health, fitness, and well-being. Things that made me say "Yes!" as well as things that left me wondering if I agreed or not. Things that were too good not to share! Enjoy.
Bagels to Broccoli's Jen's post about her mixed feelings on the #StrongNotSkinny trend.
Pamela Hernandez's post about how working out doesn't get us out of needing to stay active throughout the day, or else we risk having a less-than-optimal metabolism. (Reminded me of these inforgraphics on the hazards of sitting!)
My Switch to Strength by Jen Comas, the perfect follow up to last week's post about chronic cardio.
Nike's latest commercial - inner thoughts we can all relate to!
A stream of consciousness-style post from Jessica about treating food choices the way she treats exercise - by being fierce!
Your responses to Keeping it About the Students - thanks for your blog comments and Facebook reactions!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Keeping it About the Students

If you read my top 10 things I've learned about being a group instructor post last week, you might remember #6:
You can sometimes get sucked into the world of instructors - the clothes, trainings, meet-ups, conferences - but you always remember that at the end of the day, it's about our students' health journeys.

This is something I've been thinking a lot about lately... maybe because I recently attended the Zumba Home Office Connection event and just signed up for the convention in August (yay!). I love being part of a community of fitness instructors, so I'm certainly NOT saying that we shouldn't have get-togethers or be friends with each other.

What I AM saying is that... we can easily slip into a pattern of spending our time shopping for instructor shirts, talking about the latest training DVDs, networking to get more classes... all the things that are part of being an instructor but also take time and attention away from our students. How can we be sure to strike a balance?

Of course, it would be hard NOT to get wrapped up in the
excitement at something like a fitness concert just for instructors!
Look at the energy in this room!

I think it's important to be aware of some common pitfalls; these are the ones I've witnessed (or, admittedly, fallen into myself!).

Pitfall #1, Taking too many specialty trainings too quickly: It's fun to try new classes, and it can exhilarating to get a new license or certification. But, if you have limited time, getting trained in Zumba, Aqua, Piloxing, Pound, Step, AND Bokwa can make it tough to refine your skills and plan your choreo in any one of these formats, let alone in all of them. As you rack up the credentials, your students may not be getting the great classes that you're capable of offering when you focus.

Pitfall #2, Putting on a show: Teaching with over-the-top hair and make-up and dancing like Beyoncé can feel really good, but it's an easy way to make students feel like you're there for yourself (even if you're not). I'm not suggesting you shouldn't wear eyeliner and lip gloss if that's your style, but you know what I mean, right? A related complaint: staring at yourself in the mirror while teaching. Some people do this out of habit or to avoid awkward eye contact, but it can come off as being self-absorbed to students.

Showing up to class looking like this may intimidate your students...

Pitfall #3, Perpetuating a clique culture: The instructor clothes, complicated acronyms, pseudocelebrity presenters - our favorite fitness formats have a lot going on that only insiders know about. And that's great, when you're among other insiders. But I think it's our job to make sure students don't feel like they're missing out or being marginalized. They love our formats and brands as much as we do, if not more! I've heard people say things like, "Oh, I'm JUST a student," and I think they should be able to own their status more - without them, we wouldn't have anyone to teach!

Pitfall #4, Using conferences just for networking and selfies: Yes, you should network and take selfies to your heart's content. But, if that's all we're doing at a conference, we're missing the point. We should take our continuing education seriously and return to our classes with new ideas, tips, and energy. Our students deserve it!

How do you keep a balance between the world of instructors and a focus on your students?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Introducing The Z Beat Ambassadors!

I am thrilled to introduce you to four awesome new voices on The Z Beat. They will share their own stories, news, resources, and advice each month. They are all dance fitness instructors but each brings a unique perspective to The Z Beat. I can't wait to share their insight and ideas with you!

Dana is from Leesburg, VA (but is a west coast girl at heart!). She has been a ZIN since December 2012 and is licensed to teach Zumba Toning, Core, and Glutes as well as POUND. She is soon-to-be AFAA certified, too.

Dana is passionate about music and always tries to live in the moment. One of her biggest goals is to be a great role model for her daughter. You can find her on Facebook here.

 Tiffany is from Carmichael, CA. She has been a ZIN since February 2011 and is licensed to teach Zumba, R.I.P.P.E.D., and Silver Sneakers. She is also a certified personal trainer through NASM.

Tiffany has lost 130 pounds and loves training others. She is a cook, a singer, and a mom to two great kids! You can find Tiffany on Facebook here.

Kristi is a native Texan living in (and loving) Andover, MA. She has been a ZIN since June 2014.

Kristi is a book conservator by trade and a taco lover by choice. She's also a self-proclaimed "Pitbull superfan." You may remember her ZINspiration story! You can find Kristi on Facebook here.

Melissa is a Miami native living in Weatherford, TX. She has been a ZIN since September 2011 and is licensed to teach all sorts of Zumba classes: Aqua, Toning, Gold, Kids and Kids Jr., and Step!

Melissa has a dual degree in journalism and French and is mother to an adorable, 9-year old fur baby. You can find her on Facebook here.

Monday, April 13, 2015

ZINspiration Mondays with Wendy

A few years ago, Wendy's health was suffering and depression set in. Since then, she has become motivated, invested in her health, and started feeling great! Here's her story.


When I was at my most unhealthy place, I was obese and miserable. I had my little boy and completely let my health go. I had severe acid reflux, back problems, and depression. What I didn’t realize was that all of my health issues were directly related to being so overweight. My health suffered, my marriage suffered, and I was sitting on the sidelines of our life watching my little boy grow up. I couldn’t play with him like a mother should because I was in too much pain. I felt like I had this beautiful family and I was ruining every picture (literally and metaphorically) by being so overweight.

I finally started taking care of myself and lost sixty pounds by controlling my diet. When I stalled out, I knew I needed to work out but I didn’t want it to feel like work. My church started a Zumba fitness class and I decided I would just give it a try.

I was hooked! My body started toning like crazy and the weight dropped even more. I was able to lose 30 more pounds! After a year, I knew I wanted to teach classes and lead others to healthier, happier lives. I received my license in April of 2014 - I just celebrated my Zumba-versary on April 5th!!!

The hardest thing about getting healthy is simply getting started. I was so miserable and unmotivated at first. Once I saw the weight dropping, it kept me motivated to keep going. You have to take baby steps. You cannot expect to go from an unhealthy life to making perfectly healthy choices in one day. Make one change at a time and build on it. Everything adds up to lots of lasting success! Before you know it, you’re a completely difference person inside and out.

Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t just change your body. Every part of you is changed. You won’t be the same person you are when you started. I have gone from a size 16 to a size 4 and I have never been happier! My life has changed so much in the past three and a half years. I don’t have the health problems that came with being obese. I can enjoy my family and actually run through the yard with my little boy. Every single part of my life is better because I chose to take control of my health.

My advice for others? Share your story! Share the tough parts, share all of the happy parts. My Zumba Divas support me when I’m struggling. They celebrate my successes with me. My family has been there for me every step of the way. I share my story every chance I get because people are so encouraging along the way. I could not have lost over 90 pounds without people cheering me on.

If you want to follow my story, I blog over at Daily Dose of Del Signore and talk about every day life and how I am losing
weight. I post recipes on Instagram and share what works for me and what doesn’t. I love helping others lose weight and get healthy!

Need more ZINspiration? Check it out here!

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Chronic Cardio Debate: Yea or Nay?

Ok, so it would be a dumb question to ask if you think cardio is good for you on a blog about dance fitness. I'm just not gonna do that. But I did read an interesting article the other day that asked a very specific question: is (chronic) cardio making you fat?

Erica of posed this question with a few specific thoughts about cardio on her mind:

  • Aerobic-style cardio is most effective if you are overweight and new to exercise. But, eventually, the body adapts and uses energy and oxygen more efficiently, making it less effective for fat loss.
  • Too much cardio can lead to increased hunger, and we all know what happens if you overeat.
  • Cardio can be at odds with your toning goals, as it can interfere with muscle building.
  • Interval training and high intensity workouts are more likely to produce fat loss, in less time.
  • Endurance training (think: marathoning) can be plain old tough on the body, and people like Mark Sisson argue that health and fitness should make sense in terms of human biology and how our bodies are designed to function for survival.

(Source, quoting research from this article)

This is a little extreme... but it does make you think!

In my own experience, I feel my fittest when I balance cardio (running, kickboxing, and dance) with weight lifting and toning work. When I was training for a half marathon and didn't have time for much else, I felt my cardiovascular health improve but my muscle definition wasn't what it had been.

So, if Erica’s thoughts about the downside of cardio have you questioning your fitness routine - do you give up our beloved dance fitness classes?

Not. So. Fast. Here's what I'm thinking:

  •  There’s been some research done on the benefits of dance fitness classes, like the study cited in this ACE article saying that “In comparison with other exercises… Zumba burns more calories than cardio kickboxing, step aerobics, hooping and power yoga.”
  • Zumba uses intermittent training which has some of the same benefits as the high-intensity interval training that Erica recommends (as opposed to low-intensity endurance training)
  • Right after reading Erica’s article, I read about new research on the mental health benefits of – wait for it – salsa dancing! According to one recent study, people who had been diagnosed with depression all showed signs of improvement after 8 weeks of salsa classes.

Ok, so how do we make sense of all of this conflicting info? If I was writing the rules (which I’m not, because I’m not a doctor, just a girl with a laptop), I would say:

  • Cardio is an important part of one’s fitness routine.
  • Everyone should find their own balance. In other words, do enough cardio to get the fitness benefits without overdoing it to the point of injury or uncontrollable / unnecessary refueling after working out.
  • Find cardio that you love, and that will bring you both physical and social/emotional benefits. The right exercise will keep you coming back for more!
  • Be sure to leave time in your routine for toning exercises. This may mean trading dance fitness, running etc. once in a while to fit both kinds of workouts into your schedule.
  • Bonus suggestion: switch it up! Your body gets accustomed to doing the same kinds of exercises over and over again. Maximize your time (and push your boundaries!) by trying new group classes (like piloxing or barre), going hiking or biking, or doing something else that’s completely new to you
What do you think? Is cardio "enough"? Can too much cardio be a bad thing?

(P.S. I've reread the draft of this post three times trying to figure out if it's confusing or helpful. I think I've decided that it's both - it's good to hear an alternative perspective even though there's conflicting research out there. I hope you agree!)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

10 Things I've Learned About Being a Group Fitness Instructor

Your reactions to Wednesday's post about being introverted really got me thinking about my experience as a group fitness instructor. So much so, that I came up with 10 things that I've learned along the way. Here goes!

10. You have your regular personality and your instructor personality, and the two may be very different!

9. Your students can become your friends, and that's both wonderful and tricky. (More on this in a future post!)

8. You have TO DO a lot of laundry. A LOT.

7. You can dig deep and smile even on the toughest of days.

You can sometimes get sucked into the world of instructors - the clothes, trainings, meet-ups, conferences - but you always remember that at the end of the day, it's about our students' health journeys. (Again, more on this is another post!)

5. You end up being a listener, counselor, and adviser to countless people, without even realizing it.

4. You beat yourself up when you lack time or motivation to exercise or eat well, but ultimately remind yourself that nobody is perfect and you move on.

3. You stay on top of fitness trends and the latest workouts (even if it means trying weird workouts that leave you sore and confused...).

2. You have more ways to motivate a group of people than anyone else you know!

1. You know how to come up with energy you didn't think you had and sometimes work through injury and illness; be organized and have business savvy; and truly care about the people you work for and with. Being a group fitness instructor is a physical, mental, and emotional lifestyle... and you wouldn't have it any other way!

Monday, April 6, 2015

ZINspiration Monday with LaRonda

LaRonda is a cancer survivor and a tremendous inspiration! Here is her story.

It has been super amazing reading and learning so much about everyone's journeys, accomplishments, and life changes! My story is a little different.

Back in 2007 (after 5 years of working a desk job - for a doctor), I was diagnosed with Stage 3 cervical cancer. I had NO insurance (yep, even working for a MD). When I was diagnosed, I had NO idea I had cancer. No symptoms, no trouble in that "department", nothing. I actually went for a possible bladder infection and it had been a few years since my annual Pap. I guess I didn't feel the need to go if there were no problems. And we all know how much an office visit is when you have no health insurance.


Soooo, back to diagnosis, HOLY CRAP! Cancer, WOW! I can NOT stress enough how important it is for women to be on top of their goods... seriously, get your check ups!! So now I'm asking myself, what am I gonna do with no health insurance? Well, I can sit here and tell you the gigantic obstacles I went through from 2007-2009 (yes, 2 years of little to no treatment or help). At stage 3, level A, you're pretty much on a serious time crunch of getting things handled, because stage 4 is No Bueno!

It was horrible. Absolutely horrible. I felt defeated, not valuable to society, depressed, discouraged, and because I "didn't meet the age bracket of health coverage for that cancer" I couldn't really do anything that was needed because I didn't have the funds. Really?!?! You're gonna put an AGE bracket on who is approved and not approved to get funding to save your life? But, jumping ahead, in 2009 I found ANOTHER doctor (God bless her soul to the moon and back) who was willing to do treatments out of HER pocket until we could find the funds. How amazing was that?

In 2009 and 2010, I underwent TONS of small surgeries, laser treatments to remove cancer cells, etc. I was so young that the idea of a total hysterectomy was at the very bottom of the list of solutions. My abdomen became complete jello, I mean, useless. 5 MAJOR abdominal surgeries later and the very last one in December of 2010 removed all female anatomy and cancer from my body! (Cancer FREE, yay!!!!). The downfall: every abdominal muscle had been cut and removed - yep, I was completely gutted. Couldn't sit up by myself, my internal organs were put in place with a netting to keep them put, I wasn't allowed to do ANY abdominal exercises. Mind you, I was never into dance or exercise and knew nothing of Zumba.

But, how was I supposed to gain stomach muscle again if I couldn't exercise? About 3-4 months after my final surgery, I was going through physical therapy to learn how to use my core again (trust me, you don't realize how much your core does for you until you don't really have one to use!). I was getting stronger but HATED the physical therapy. It was horrible. Anywho, one of my good friends had become a Zumba instructor, she kept talking about it and I just thought "Zumba, well that sounds cool, good for you"...until she finally talked me into coming to one of her classes.

WOW!!!! Not only was it fun, but I was laughing and smiling and everyone around me was too. After years of depression and stress, it was a breath of fresh air to say the least. I continued going to her classes and about 2 months later my core was stronger and I quit my PT. I was hooked, and decided never going back to a desk job! A few months later, I became a ZIN and taught my first train wreck of a class the following week.

That was November of 2011. In my years of being a ZIN, my life has changed, my perspective on life has changed, my everything has changed. I have been so blessed and humbled by the Zumba program, the experiences we get to have and share with others, the way I get to help others walk their journey as an instructor. It's pretty amazing what Zumba has done for me and so many of us. Zumba brought me back to life, truly. Depression and life's struggles will always be there for people, no doubt. But how lucky are we to be able to turn to a program, a class, a group of people to help us through it?!

To those who have overcome cancer, weight loss, depression, abuse, financial turmoil, relationship hells, or whatever your struggle was... cheers to YOU!! I always tell people when they come to me with a struggle: you never know where that struggle will lead you, you never know what path it might take you on, but never be afraid to take the first step. Some of the hardest paths lead us to the best journeys!!! Keep walking your path, keep shinning, keep dancing, keep believing, and keep the faith!

Need more ZINspiration? Check it out here!

Friday, April 3, 2015

What You Can, When You Can (or, #wycwyc!)

A lot of my health and fitness motivation comes from reading about other bloggers' experiences. I've been a big fan of both Roni Noone and Carla Birnberg for a while, but they just wrote a book that EPITOMIZES my approach to balancing work, family, running a household, etc.
What You Can, When You Can is about making good choices as part of your lifestyle. It's about not letting one missed workout, dessert, etc. derail your health goals. It's about inspiring each other by sharing big and small wins. According to, the idea is:
  1. to do what you can when you can.
  2. to acknowledge that by doing the best you can when you can, it is enough.
  3. seeking out every opportunity to help you reach your goals.
  4. balancing your wants with your goals
  5. A vibrant online community who supports and encourages each other to live a balanced healthy life while achieving their goals.
I've had a couple of #wycwyc moments over the last few days:
  • I stood on the subway on Wednesday instead of taking a seat. I sit way too much at work, and trying to balance while standing (and not holding on because ew) is actually a little bit of a core workout!

  • I didn't have time to workout yesterday, so I did a few sets of squats while I brushed my teeth (for real).

  • Last week, I went to a work event that promised breakfast but, alas, there was no food.  I was starving but instead of grabbing a packaged pastry at a deli (the only option) I waited until it was over and had an early lunch - a huge salad!

My favorite part about this is that Roni and Carla use the #wycwyc hashtag as a way to promote their approach. Head to Twitter and search for #wycwyc to celebrate others' good choices and share your own. You might also check out their blog and podcast on their website.

You can pre-order the book here, just like I did!
What #wycwyc moments have you had lately?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Can Introverts be good fitness instructors?

First of all, I am an introvert.
So, I write this article as an insider, not a critic! I'm using the term introvert in the way that the Myers-Briggs Personality Test uses it. It's NOT about whether you're shy or social. Instead, introverts get their energy from quiet time, reflection, and analysis. The opposite personality type is represented by extroverts, who get their energy from being around other people. Again, extroverts may like quiet time (and can even be shy!) but they recharge themselves by socializing.
There are actually 16 personality types. You can take the test here (after you're done reading this article, of course). My full personality type is INTJ:
Anyway, think about the characteristics that make a good group fitness instructor: friendly, charismatic, energetic, motivating, and maybe a little loud? I recently found myself wondering if these are traits that are mastered by extroverts and tougher for introverts to exhibit.
It may be true. Introverts probably have to work harder to keep up their energetic instructor persona than extroverts do. We may also have to work up more courage to interact with our students and other instructors than our socially-minded extrovert peers. Unfortunately, these tendencies can make us seem standoffish or uninterested at the gym or studio, which couldn't be farther from the truth!
Luckily, I think there are also some important benefits to being an Introvert Instructor, including:
  • You look out for everyone. The front row divas may demand more attention, but as an introvert you're naturally checking on the students in the back and corners, making sure they're engaged and comfortable.
  • You respect people's personal space. I know some instructors and students love to dance together, but invasion of personal space was a major reason why I hated my first Zumba class (true story!). As an introvert, I know to give students plenty of room.
  • You plan for everything. Introverts are known for analyzing situations and rehearsing scenarios ahead of time. As an Introvert Instructor, you've probably thought through how your students will react to different songs and routines. You've probably even rehearsed your opening speech at the beginning of class (guilty!).
  • You seek to bond with your students. Introverts may be overwhelmed by mingling with a group of students all together, but we also love to engage in deeper, one-on-one conversations with individuals. I love chatting with students and getting to know them personally.
Where are the Introverts out there? How do you think being introverted fits (or not) with being a group fitness instructor?