Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Formerly Overweight + Pregnancy = a Strange Connection

I've been thinking about this post for a while, but it's a concept that's kind of tough to explain and subject to disagreement. I decided to post it anyway in case others can relate.

So, yeah. Here goes. I honestly think that experiencing being overweight prepares you, in some ways, for weight gain during pregnancy.

I'm sure some of you are nodding your heads and some of you are like, "Wait, wha?" Here's why:
  • You don't panic over the numbers on the scale. I've seen these numbers before, and while you never want to see them again, I can only assume that they're less shocking to me than they would be to someone who has been at a healthy (non-pregnancy) weight for their whole life.

  • You already know how to dress a larger body. Yes, maternity clothes are strange and the way your body grows during pregnancy is... different. But, I already know some tricks for dressing my body at a larger size. A-line skirts, well-placed accessories, spanx - you name it, I know how to make it work for me.

  • Stretch marks? Get in line. This one makes me giggle. There's a lot of talk in mom-to-be land about preventing stretch marks. I'm like, there are people who don't already have stretch marks? Mind blown. Any new stretch marks I get from pregnancy can join the ones I've lived with for years.

  • You know how hard it is to lose weight, and don't take the task ahead for granted. This is probably the most important one. I've been faced with needing to lose weight before, and I know that it's hard work requiring discipline, focus, forgiveness, and patience. I'm not gleefully "eating for two" pretending like the weight will just fall off later. Don't get me wrong, there are days when I eat for two (maybe three or four), but I have no false expectation of weight just disappearing after birth.

I'm not advocating for being overweight or unhealthy, of course. All I know is that having experienced it puts gaining pregnancy weight in perspective.

Weird or relatable?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Things You Think About When Giving Up a Gig

I really appreciate all of your comments and Facebook messages in response to my surprising thoughts on fitness and pregnancy. As the weeks tick by, I've been thinking a lot about surprise #3 in particular: my decision to teach my class until I'm about 7 months and then make way for a sub until post-pregnancy. If you haven't read it, go ahead and click over here so you know what I'm talking about.

I'll wait until you're done.

Back? Great!

This post on Becoming Supersonic by Kristi was super timely - she offers tips on how to "exit gracefully" when giving up a group fitness class. She offers some tips I've thought about and others I haven't... like having the person who's taking over your class do some preview songs before you leave to ease the transition.

I don't want my students to feel like I'm ditching them, and I know I could teach longer if I really wanted to so I worry that they might think that, too! But, I know in my heart that I have too many things to get done before now and my due date, and I'm not physically or emotionally able to give 100% to my class.

Since I'm planning to go back to teaching this same class when I can in a few months (and because my gym is being SO generous to offer me that option), my exit here is definitely a "see ya later" and not a "goodbye forever". Even still, here are a couple of things I'm thinking about:
  • How will I keep in touch with my students while I'm gone? It may not be necessary, but I would love to stay connected to them. I might give out my email and Facebook info at my last class so we don't lose touch.

  • How should I create my last playlist? I think I should take requests, but I always have an established playlist ahead of time so I have the right balance of songs, amount of time, etc. (see my thoughts on playlist creation here). I think I'll ask for recommendations the week before and try to get as many in as possible.

  • How many new songs should I come back with? Typically, I'd have about 6 new songs over a few months' time... but if I'm out maybe I should come back and do familiar material for a couple of weeks so we can get used to each other again? Maybe that's something I can ask for opinions on before I leave, too.
Anything else I should be thinking about as I head toward my maternity leave from teaching?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Thoughts on Party Crashers

This post is from Melissa, a guest blogger on The Z Beat!

I’ve seen a lot of posts lately about the frustration ZIN members are feeling over the abuse of the Zumba name by instructors or facilities. I share in that frustration and when I visited the Stop Party Crashers table at ZINCON, I took a few minutes to ask Diane Felkenes what exactly we can do about it.

My situation was that one of the gyms I am affiliated with is a specialty studio that has been trying to incorporate a Zumba class once a week but can’t seem to get it off the ground. Not too far up the road, there is another gym that offers Zumba classes and from what we’ve been told, they tend to teach a hip-hop dance class and many of our clients won’t take our Zumba class because they think that’s what it is. Because that instructor at the other place is officially licensed, he/she really isn’t a Party Crasher but, in my opinion, the essence of the original Zumba formula isn’t there and it misrepresents what it is. So my question to Diane was, “What do we do?”

Her answer was quite simply, “nothing.” It shocked me at first but then she explained that while she understood it can be frustrating, what draws people to Zumba in the first place is the fact that no two classes/instructors are EXACTLY the same. She said that trying to convince people our way is the “right” or “better” way defeats our purpose. So her advice to me was simply to teach my class, whether one or 100 people show up. She said, eventually, word will get around that the class at our gym is different and people will come but that trying to undermine or outdo the other instructor is a waste of energy.

On the other hand, she did say that if someone was illegally using the Zumba name and claiming to be an instructor when they’re not licensed that it can - and will - be checked by the Home Office and action will be taken. That was the reason for the Stop Party Crashers site. But, her overall sentiment was to simply do our best for our students and try not to worry so much about what other instructors are or aren’t doing.

On another note, I also read some Curves owners want to change the Zumba in the Circuit with Curves program to suit how clients think it should work, but that it is against the proper rules of the format. As someone who lost a teaching job because I wouldn’t do it the way the owner wanted, I just want to say we should never compromise how we were taught to run our classes for two reasons – safety and efficiency. Obviously, a lot of time and research went into the format and experts with a lot more letters after their names than me figured out what worked and what didn’t so I don’t feel the need to change it. I know it can be hard to stand your ground, especially with money on the line, but think if someone ended up with an injury because you took out a warmup or a cool down because an owner wanted you to.

Until next time, Zumba love to all!

Monday, September 21, 2015

For Fun: Fitness Nostalgia

For many of us, getting and staying fit is a lifelong process. Over time, we've seen it all. Today's post is a walk down fitness memory lane - how many of these things have you done over the years?

Jane Fonda
The original diva of fitness videos, many of us got our starts in our living rooms doing scissor kicks and ballet plies along with Jane. With her first video released in 1982, she paved the way for countless of fitness personalities who came after her.

Sweatin' to the Oldies
While we're on the topic of workout videos, we have to tip our proverbial caps to Richard Simmons. I still can't hear Dancing in the Street without doing the choreography to myself.

The Thighmaster
Thanks to spokeswoman Suzanne Sommers, the Thighmaster was a huge hit in the 90s. Interesting fact: the marketing mind behind this product was the same person who made a bajillion dollars selling mood rings. I think we were all had.

The Grind
I haven't brushed off my VHS videos in a while, but if I did, The Grind would be the first one I'd reach for. I still remember every move, and miss dancing along with Eric Nies in my living room. #swoon

Bonus admission: Well before I was dancing along with Eric, I was doing Mousercise with Mickey. I hope I'm not alone on this one!

What would you include on your list of fitness nostalgia?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Organzational Tips for ZINs

This post is by Dana, a guest blogger on The Z Beat!

Being a Zumba instructor is a full-time job whether it is your actual full-time job or not. Let me explain… There is so much that goes into being a Zumba Instructor. Day-to-day we constantly think about music, choreography, upcoming classes, events, marketing, training, fitness and the list goes on and on. I would say that many of us spend a very large portion of each day dedicated to Zumba in some capacity. I sometimes wonder how I have time to do anything else! I thought it be helpful to share a few quick things that I do to help manage my time better.


·         Schedule: I schedule my classes in my online calendar. I obviously know when I teach because my schedule is engrained in my head and often my classes are the best part of my day!! But, documenting my classes in my online calendar is both helpful for me and my family. This way I won’t get double booked, and I can visually see the time blocked off each day for classes (travel time plus the actual class).

·         Music: I have an excel spreadsheet that I use as an inventory management tool so I can keep track of the songs I have choreography for in case I am ever stuck on what to add to my playlist. I look back at this worksheet a lot because it is easy to forget songs as you add new ones to your repertoire.  I also have a binder with all of my ZIN CDs to help keep them in one place.

·         Training: I keep a folder online in my browser and “favorite” all of pages I frequent including pages on upcoming events and trainings.

·         Events: When I see an event I want to attend, I add it to my calendar and RSVP when I see the event posted on Facebook. Facebook will remind me of the upcoming event.

·         Marketing: I schedule time each week to focus on marketing. During the week as I think of things I add them to my to-do list, and when I sit down to work on marketing, I know exactly what I want to accomplish and can cross items off my to-do list!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

10 Things Never to Say to Zumba Enthusiasts

Like, really. Just don't. Share this with your friends who aren't in the know!

10. Hmm, Zumba. Is that like, doing the Macarena?

9. Zumba is just another fad workout. (No, shake weights and prancersizing are fad workouts. Zumba is here to stay!)

8. Does it really matter where you stand in class?

7. It must be embarrassing to dance in public like that. (Nope, too busy shakin' what my mama gave me to think about it.)

6. Zumba is only for women. (Have you SEEN the Brutez?)

5. I'm not in good enough shape to try Zumba.

4. Do you have to wear clothes in those colors? (Yes. The answer is yes.)

3. You do Zumba? That's great. And what do you do for real exercise?

2. Can't you just go to a different class this week? I'm sure they're all the same.

1. I can't dance so I can't do Zumba. (Um, no, Zumba's for everyone!)

Monday, September 14, 2015

Pregnancy, Fitness, and Some Surprises

I promised that I wouldn't turn this into a pregnancy blog, which is why I've barely mentioned this pretty major thing in my life since I announced it mid-July. I'm around 5 1/2 months now, and there are a few surprising things on my mind that I figured it was time to share.

1. I miss things I NEVER thought I would miss. No, I'm not talking about Guinness and feta cheese (I knew I would miss those things - no surprise there). I actually miss counting calories. Weird, right? I also miss taking on fitness challenges, like running longer distances or trying new group ex formats. There's something about the challenge of trying to eat your best, increase your capacity for exercise and maintain your health (weight, cardio ability, muscle tone, etc.) that I had really gotten into over the last few years. I'm definitely still trying to eat healthy and I'm working out, too, but it's not the same.. especially as you watch the number on the scale go up! All worth it, of course.

My sweaty bump after class one day!
2. Speaking of working out, my idea of a milestone has really changed. I know many women continue distance running while pregnant, and I have nothing against the idea. It just wasn't for me. So the other day when I ran 1 1/2 miles on a humid August morning, I celebrated like I had just crossed the finish line at the Boston marathon. When I recently  choreographed a new song for my Zumba class, I was so proud of myself - taking time to dedicate to creating, remembering and practicing the song felt like an accomplishment. The achievement bar has been lowered for my pregnancy self, and that's ok!

3. I struggled through my decision about when to stop teaching classes. At first, I thought I would be one of those people who would teach until the very end, going into labor only after leading my last cooldown at the end of a sweaty class at 40 weeks pregnant. Um, no.

While I love teaching and I think I'm still doing pretty well when I teach, there are just some practical reasons to call it quits earlier. My biggest reasons aren't really about me or my physical state, either. First, I have modified a few moves for myself and even though I both demonstrate the full move AND tell my class that I'll be modifying the move after I show it to them, I still feel like some of them do exactly what I do.... which means they're not getting as good of a workout as they otherwise would. Drives me nuts. Secondly, I don't have the energy to choreograph as many new songs as I should, and I worry about the class getting stale.

So, I've decided to turn things over to subs a little earlier in my pregnancy than I would have thought 6 months ago - probably somewhere around 28-30 weeks along. I may not earn the bad*ss instructor badge of pregnancy honor, but my class will be well taken care of and I will be able to relax a bit more (and workout on my own terms!).

What fitness surprises did you find when pregnant or going through another life change?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Being Good to Yourself

Love yourself because there is only one of you!
This post is by Dana, a guest blogger on The Z Beat!

Taking care of yourself is the best gift you can give yourself and your family, and it will help you be the best Zumba instructor that you can be. Doesn’t everyone want to be the best possible instructor? I can hear e-cheer as I imagine you reading this article and thinking, “Yes!”.

Being the best version of yourself and taking care of you seems like a fundamental thing that everyone should do and seems relatively obvious. However, what doesn’t seem obvious is that it is actually hard to be good to yourself and everyone else around you while juggling day-to-day life which is hectic, crazy, busy, and overloaded with a million activities. Just recently I had a Zumba participant tell me, “You look tired”. She was very sweet by asking if I was ok {seriously I was touched that she went out of her way to communicate her concern} and her comment got me thinking….YES, I was tired, and YES I wasn’t doing anyone any favors by running around like a chicken with my head cut off and not fully taking care of myself! She was right, I need to take better care of myself to be the best instructor I can be.

Let’s start with the obvious. Sleep. Something that none of us get enough of. However, the benefits of a good night sleep are critical to one’s overall health. If you can manage to squeeze in an extra hour here or there, or even a 20-minute power nap, studies suggest that the more sleep you get the better you will feel overall.
·        Sleep can help your mood! Not getting enough sleep affects your emotional regulation. When you are tired you are more likely to be cranky, overly happy or overly sad.

·        Sleep can help your injuries heal faster. If you have chronic pain or acute pain from a recent injury, getting enough sleep may actually make you hurt less.

·        Sleep also keeps you safer from accidents. When you are tired you are more likely to trip of fall or not be mindful of the things around you.

Another obvious be-good-to-yourself tip is to maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet. I am the worst offender of not taking care of myself with the proper vitamins and nutrients. There are so many programs and options available in the marketplace to ensure that you are “filling your tank”, so finding a strategy and a plan that works for you should be a fun way to explore your tastes and interests.

Some helpful things to think about as you figure out what eating plan works for you:  

·        Eat a variety of fresh, frozen and canned vegetables and fruits without high-calorie sauces or added salt and sugars. Replace high-calorie foods with fruits and vegetables.

·        Limit saturated fat and trans fat and replace them with the better fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. If you need to lower your blood cholesterol, reduce saturated fat to no more than 5 to 6 percent of total calories. For someone eating 2,000 calories a day, that’s about 13 grams of saturated fat.

·        Choose foods with less sodium and prepare foods with little or no salt. To lower blood pressure, aim to eat no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day. Reducing daily intake to 1,500 mg is desirable because it can lower blood pressure even further. If you can’t meet these goals right now, even reducing sodium intake by 1,000 mg per day can benefit blood pressure.

In addition to sleeping and eating a well-balanced diet, there are another few items to consider while working on your overall health.
·         Drink a lot of water
·         Eat often to keep your metabolism up
·         If you work a desk job, stand up and walk around during the day
·         If you sit at a computer all day, be mindful of your posture
·         Make those overdue doctor appointments
·         Make {YOU} time.
·         Socialize the people that make you feel loved and happy
·         Listen to music and dance as much as you can!


Monday, September 7, 2015

It's a Labor Day Giveaway!

Happy Labor Day, all! Here in the U.S., we spend the first Monday of every September celebrating the contributions of workers over our history - people who sacrificed their health, time with their families, and in some cases, their lives to shape the country we live in today.

In honor of all the hard working Zumba instructors out there, The Z Beat is giving you a chance to win some serious Zumba swag! See below for your chances to win:
--Zumba wear pants (size Medium)
--Bracelets for your collection
--"Dance is <3" towel
--Zumba manifesto magnet

You can enter up until midnight on September 14th, and a winner will be selected at random. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The fine print: No purchase necessary. Winners may live anywhere, but must produce a valid address for shipment within 5 business days. The Z Beat is not responsible for lost or deleted entries, and will make final decisions regarding disputes.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Are you ready to Party in Pink?

This post is from Kristi, a guest blogger on The Z Beat!
In case you missed it it’s Party in Pink season! Whether you’ve hosted a PIP before or it’s your first one I think having a check list is ALWAYS a good thing. PIP events run from August 1st to October 31st, but don’t worry if you start planning now you can still host an event if you pick a date in late October. And if you feel like that is too rushed think of this as your prep for next year.

I am by no means the most experienced event planner, but I hope I have listed the majority of the things you need to think about and plan ahead of time to make your PIP a success. Most of the things on this list come from my own experiences, from watching my fellow instructors run amazing events and I of course turned to the trusty Zumba forum for help, so thank you my fellow ZINs for being so awesome!
1.      Choose a date.

2.      Find a location.

3.      Decide on a ticket price and set up a Paypal payment system. Think about “early-bird” prices vs. “at the door prices” if you want to do that. Be sure to put that information on your flyer to encourage people to sign-up ahead of time.

4.      Go to Zumba’s Party in Pink page and request to host an event.

5.      Ask a breast cancer survivor to speak for a few minutes at your event. It could be a fellow instructor or maybe one of your students. This is their chance to inspire others and share their amazing story.

6.      Contact instructors and see who wants to participate, the more the merrier!

7.      Create your event flyer (I do this using a site called Poster My Wall it’s fast and easy).

8.      Create a FB event page and invite everyone. Be sure to have the participating instructors do the same. Email, FB chat or text everyone an image of the flyer to use in their FB posts.

9.      Ask local businesses, family and friends if they will donate raffle prizes. Be sure to ask your fellow instructors too (they could ask their gyms or their day-jobs for donations).

10.  Take pictures of the raffle prizes and announce them on your event page to get people excited.

11.  Plan and purchase decorations (balloons, signs, maybe a backdrop for photos). Remember to remind everyone to wear pink too!

12.  Try to get drink and snack donations to keep your event-goers dancing (think local grocery stores or even ask instructors or participants to bring water or fruit).

13.  Get your playlist together. Decide how many songs each instructor gets to teach and announce any group songs you want everyone to do together.

14.  Continue to advertise your event on FB. Print out flyers and put them on community bulletin boards, at your local library, coffee house, salon, anywhere. Announce the event in your classes and have the participating instructors do the same.

15.  Delegate jobs to instructors. Who is going to sit at the door and take money or tickets? Do you need a second person to organize the release forms? Who can help with set-up and take-down? Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

16.  Finalize your playlist (be sure to ask if anyone needs to leave early or arrive late, plan their songs accordingly).

17.  Before the event run through the details again with your event location. Think about lights, sound, parking, where will the food/drink stations be, do you need tables/chairs). Try to plan ahead.

18.  Ask instructors to arrive early to help set-up if they can and double check that the people you delegated jobs to are good to go.

19.  Post a print out of the playlist so the instructors know when they’re up.

20.  Let the games begin! Have fun, smile and relax and have fun at your event!

Did I miss anything? I’m sure I did. I would love to hear from my more experienced ZINs. If you have other tips and tricks to offer please, please share them! We would all love to know!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Acting Like a 7-year-old: Zumba Kids Recap!

You've probably heard this before: 30% of American kids are obese or overweight. They're supposed to get 60 minutes of structured physical activity per day, in addition to free play time, but school schedules are including less and less active time. We have a major challenge on our hands.

Photo credit:
That's part of the reason why Zumba created the Zumba Kids  (ages 7-11) and Kids Jr. (ages 4-6) programs. According to, the benefits of Zumba Kids are that it "helps develop a healthy lifestyle and incorporate fitness as a natural part of children's lives by making fitness fun... Classes incorporate key childhood development elements like leadership, respect, team work, confidence, self-esteem, memory, creativity, coordination, cultural awareness."

I took the Kids training with Stephanie Masceri at convention and really enjoyed it. Though it's not a ZHO official rule, Stephanie's advice is that no one under 15 should participate in a regular adult class. I hear her on that... I don't want to be the one to teach a kid how to body roll or shake what her mama gave her. So, having the official Kids format in your toolbox can come in handy when your gym or community wants to offer our favorite fitness class to kids.

I won't give away all the details, but the format includes a warm up, teaching kids a simple routine, teaching them a core rhythm, and playing some dance games, followed by a cool down. I love that it's both educational and fun - the perfect activity for a once per week enrichment or to offer as part of a broader after-school program.

Here's a pro tip: put a sticker on kids' right shoes or a stamp on their right hand to help them learn directions and keep them from trampling on each other!

I've never met a ZES I didn't like, but Stephanie was particularly awesome. She was incredibly knowledgeable about kids physical development as well as their social/emotional needs... and she's an amazing dancer, too. I highly recommend tracking her down for a training!