Monday, August 24, 2015

ZINspiration Monday with Laura Boyd (and, Ashley Judd!)

If you saw Ashley Judd speak and perform at ZINCON, you remember her ZIN Laura Boyd killed it up on stage with her (and Beto, btw). She looked like such a pro! I got to interview Laura, and it turns out not only is she an awesome instructor, but she has an inspiring story that got her into Zumba in the first place. Here's her story.

The Z Beat: Where are you from?
Laura: Well, I was born in Montana, but I grew up in New Zealand. So I'm a Kiwi by upbringing, but proud of my American heritage. I have now lived in Franklin, Tennessee for 11 years with my husband John and 2 children.

The Z Beat: What got you into Zumba? When did you get your B1?
Laura: It sounds cliche, but I have always struggled with my weight and body image. I grew up as an overweight girl, adolescent and young adult, then got into running and healthy eating in my 20's. After my second baby was born 5 years ago, (whose birth was life threatening) I ended up in ICU on life support, and had a long road of recovery ahead of me to health and fitness.

I had seen the Zumba classes at my local YMCA, but had been too scared to try them. After nearly dying during my daughter’s birth, I had a new sense of courage and bravery, so I decided to give it a whirl! The moment I stepped in, I knew it was for me. A light bulb went off in my brain. I had goosebumps, nearly cried, and was immediately addicted to the sense of joy, freedom, fun and connection! I suddenly remembered that I had grown up in dance classes (tap, highland fling, jazz) and theater groups (box step, jazz hands!) and that I truly loved to dance! I'm also a drummer so loved all the different rhythms incorporated in a single class!

I started going nearly every day, and soon began to see changes in my body and fitness. Soon enough I was a front row diva, and my wonderful instructors at the Franklin Family YMCA (Angel Faulk, Lara Brown, Leslie Denham) encouraged me to get licensed.

The effervescent Erick Santana did my B1 training 3 years ago. Then beautiful Adriana Carr did my toning last year, and I just took Proskills with the hugely entertaining Mario Gutierrez at Convention a few weeks ago. All The ZESs I have met are so great!

The Z Beat: How did Ashley start taking your class?
Laura: About 18 months ago I took over the Monday night 6:30pm class at the Franklin Family YMCA, from Javin Bay, who is an incredible instructor, my good friend,  and Ashley’s first instructor! I had heard that she had been going to his classes, but honestly didn't expect her to come to mine, because he is SO good! After a few weeks of my new class, I noticed a woman on the 4th row, who was really trying to get the steps to 'Salsaton'. I remember thinking "Oh, that runner-girl is really trying hard."!! Then gradually during the class this 'runner-girl' made her way up to the front row, RIGHT NEXT to me. And it was then that I recognized her and was blinded by her beauty and the bright light she emits. She really does light up and change the atmosphere in a room.

I honestly had to block her out a bit to begin with, just to remember my choreo! We high-fived after that first class, and she has been coming back ever since. She invited me to teach her private classes in her home, and I'm honored to say that she truly has become a dear friend, confidant and Aunt to my kids who adore her. She is the epitome of grace, generosity, intelligence, humility, openness, silliness, willingness and love. I may have taught her Zumba, but she has taught me so much more. My life has been greatly enriched by her friendship.

I love it that Ashley gets behind and endorses the activities she enjoys, whether it’s Yoga, AcroYoga, Hiking or Zumba Fitness! Having somebody of her caliber and celebrity actually tweeting and saying how much she loves Zumba can only help build and grow this awesome Fitness Empire!
The Z Beat: What was it like to perform on stage at ZINCON?
Laura: Oh Boy. It was incredible! Ashley told me on my birthday in May, that she had been asked to be the keynote speaker at Convention this year. I jokingly said "Oh, well, I have to come with you!". And she said, "Of course!"

We practiced and trained for like 8 weeks. I even got a personal trainer and started lifting some heavy weights!

I hardly slept the night before and was up early going over the 2 songs one more time!

We were walked backstage and greeted by all the ZESs I have seen on the ZIN DVD's over the years. I even got some selfies with Gina, Steve and Kass.

Then finally the man himself, El Jefe, Beto, came over to meet Ashley. She is very generous and kind and made sure I met him too. He gave me a kiss on the cheek, I said 'Mucho Gusto', and he said my Spanish was very good! She talked about me so much that he invited me to take a photo with the two of them. It was all very overwhelming, but so, so much fun!

Then the moment came and suddenly I was onstage with Ashley! There was so much screaming that I even forgot to introduce myself when Ashley gave me the mic, but I was ready to dance!

I didn't know that Beto was going to join us onstage, so when I saw him over my right shoulder I was thrilled and a little nervous, because we had changed the choreo to Popee a little. But he is Beto! Of course, he got it right away.

Everyone at Zumba Fitness HQ was very helpful and great to work with. I even got to meet the 2 other Alberto's, which was wonderful too. It was all amazing and feels like a dream!

The Z Beat: Any advice for other instructors or students?
Laura: One phrase I have recently learned is that EGO can stand for Edge God Out. I know Beto, and the ZESs often say that a Zumba Fitness class is not about me, the instructor. It's not about my individual performance or skill as a dancer. It's about the students and their experience. I often pray on my way to class. That God would use me, work through me, to encourage and bless my students. That we would be safe and healthy and above all have fun while dancing for Him. I see it as a ministry, really. I dance for the Lord Almighty and I hope that this shows and that people can feel and sense that joy and freedom that I felt when I first entered the world of Zumba fitness.

If you'd like to keep in touch with Laura, follow her on Facebook!

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