Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Is it ZINtuition?

Have you seen this article on Pop Sugar called "Here's Why Zumba Works for So Many Women"? I clicked the link to it out of curiosity and was glad I did. First, here are the reasons the article cites for why Zumba works:

1. The choreography isn't too complicated.
2. You'll build coordination.
3. It's easy to go at your own pace.
4. You'll leave feeling refreshed.

What struck me about these things is that, at least the first three, are not the result of things that are required by the Zumba Home Office - you don't necessarily learn them in B1 as required and explicit parts of the program. And, if I'm being honest, I have occasionally seen instructors go overboard with complicated moves that nobody can get or by pushing students too hard beyond their comfort levels.

But, for the most part, we just know what students want... we know the choreo has to be fun and quick to pick up. We know students come to class to get energized, not beat up. We know that it takes time to find one's rhythm and that every student is different.

I think it's pretty cool that this article picked up on things about Zumba that we mostly do intuitively as a community of instructors. So, thanks Pop Sugar!

P.S. The article links to this GIF of Mindy Kaling that cracks me up. That's actually how I looked during my very first Zumba class.

Monday, October 26, 2015

ZINspiration Monday with Diana, #PartyInPink Edition!

Diana is truly a warrior, overcoming a breast cancer diagnosis and aggressive treatment. This Breast Cancer Awareness month, we celebrate women and men like Diana who both raise awareness about this difficult disease and inspire us to be healthy and strong. Here's Diana's story.

I'm originally from Orlando, Florida and now live in Maryland. I have taught Zumba since 2008, getting licensed in all formats and as a certified instructor through AFAA.
In 2009 I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer and had to stop teaching for 6 months to recover. I was left with one breast and had 10 rounds of chemo and 30 rounds of radiation. It was rough, but I was totally focused on getting back to Zumba the whole time! My students and ZIN friends kept me motivated by sending me songs and choreo ideas throughout my treatment.
Now, I am a very healthy person... conscious of what I put in my body and exercising all of time. I am going through reconstruction surgeries, which lead me to remove the breast I had left and reconstruct them both.  
Becoming a cancer survivor has allowed be to give back in indescribable ways and I love inspiring others. ZHO asked me to work on their Party In Pink campaign and I even became an avatar in their video game! In 2013, I was given the Zumba Fitness Inspiration award. All I can say is, God is amazing and allows me to inspire and help others every day. 
The advice I have for others is to keep a positive mindset at all times, no matter what. Happiness keeps the soul alive!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

To Dress Up or Not to Dress Up?

This post is from Melissa, a guest blogger on The Z Beat!
With Halloween just around the corner, there are tons of themed fitness classes and road races these days. It got me wondering whether or not costumes are a practical idea when moving and sweating will be involved.

I have run in a few events that lent themselves to wearing a costume but was never creative enough to come up with one. But, this year I will be participating in a themed spin class the morning of Halloween so I have decided to go as an 80s fitness guru. I figured this way I would at least be wearing clothes that it’s OK to sweat in!

In talking with some other instructors and gym owners, there were some things I hadn’t thought of that I wanted to share with you all in case you are hosting a themed class or planning to dress up.

* Beware of Bling – Ah yes, wearing a tiara and sporting a feather boa may look great when you walk in the door but make sure students (and you) remove anything that may fly off during class. Not only may feathers and beads hit someone, they could cause someone to slip.

* Don’t Show Too Much Skin – This sounds odd considering some people work out in a sports bra and shorts but one gym owner told me that Halloween makes people even less inhibited and some costumes can be too risqué and offensive. Make sure you and your students are mindful that while it is a one-day thing, some folks may not enjoy seeing more than they signed up for.

* Don’t Take it Personal if Regulars Don’t Show – Everyone has their beliefs and one instructor shared with me that someone had been attending her class twice a but would never show up to any holiday-themed class. She was baffled, so when announcing her Halloween class date, she made a point of asking if this person would be dressing up. It was then that she found out that because of religious beliefs, this person didn’t celebrate holidays so that is why she never came to any of her special events. You might think twice about a themed class, and definitely don’t take it personally if some regulars don’t show.

* Make Sure it’s OK – Some facility owners said they don’t allow dress-up events for liability reasons so check ahead of time and make sure you have the green light to be able to invite ghouls and goblins to your gym.

* Have Fun with the Music… But Not Too Much – There are tons of songs you can incorporate for Halloween, but keep a couple of your regular ones too. “Thriller”, “Monster Mash” and “The Addams Family” are awesome, but back-to-back hokey songs can make your class lose focus and take away from their workout.

* Can the Material Breathe? – As a kid, I remember those plastic masks made my face feel like it was on fire as I walked from house to house trick-or-treating. Make sure that any clothes or facial coverings allow your body to breathe as you jump and sweat. Nobody wants to overheat and have a problem because of a costume!

Here are some fun fitness costumes in case you are still searching for what to wear:
* Think about dressing up like Zumba’s Beto Perez.
* What about going back in time and dressing up like Jane Fonda, Richard Simmons or Suzanne Somers?
* Go as a piece of sports equipment like a kettlebell or a balance ball (though, if you’re teaching, avoid anything too bulky).

What are you going as this Halloween? Would love to hear from you. Until next time, much Zumba love to all!     

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I'm a Zumba Instructor. What's Your Super Power?

This post is by Dana, a guest blogger on The Z Beat!
If you are a Zumba instructor, I bet you sometimes wonder how you get through the day, nevermind how you have enough energy to teach. On multiple occasions I have heard my students say, “You have SO much energy” or “You are so enthusiastic for the entire hour…how?” Let me try and explain it.  As a Zumba instructor, it sometimes feels like we have super powers. What I mean is, we hide away our super powers under our pillows at home, in our desks at work, everywhere – we must have super power pixie dust hidden in ours shoes to accomplish everything we do in one day PLUS teach all of our classes!
How else could we manage our lives AND then transform into the enthusiastic and motivating instructors that we are when we frankly don’t have one speck of energy left? It has to be the super powers that kick in AS SOON as the music starts.

Sometimes you need that super power to get through the work day only to make it to class in the nick of time and as soon as the music starts, {BAM} your day starts all over again. You transform into a person who has more energy than ten of the ‘yous’ earlier that day… and you wonder where it all came from. It must be super powers!

Or maybe you’ve spent all day pulling your hair out with the kids chauffeuring them from one playdate to another and after you’ve changed your outfit at the red light in your car and rush in to get to class… as soon as the music starts {BAM}….It must be super powers!

Or maybe this is your third or fourth class of the day and you have NO idea how you are going to muster up the energy to move it to the right or left one more time let alone teach your very last class. However, as soon as the music starts, {BAM} what tired legs? Your arms don’t hurt. It must be super powers!

Let’s all embrace the super hero in each of us and celebrate with a superhero name! Use the first letter of your first and last name (you can throw your middle name in too!). It’ll be fun. GO! I’ll start… I am: Dale Dale Jammer Kuduro!

Dale Dale

What’s your super hero name?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Did You Know? Multi-Talented Zumba Artists

Today I'm sharing an article I wrote for ZLife magazine about the artists behind the songs on our ZIN CDs (or, now behind our MP3s - loving the digital now format!).

Photo credit: Zumba Fitness,
I'm sure there are people who are more Zumba-saavy than I am, but before I researched this article I had no idea how many Zumba Education Specialists and international presenters are also musicians. Some of my favorite songs are by some of my favorite dancers - who knew? I'm particularly  enamored with Armando and Heidy and Francesca Maria.

Maybe I'm easily impressed, but to be a phenomenal dancer (and instructor), singer, and performer is an awesome talent. You can always tell a singer who can't dance (performing live, they painfully sway side to side with some of the world's best dancers shimmying around them to create a diversion) and
it's way more fun to watch an artist who can dance on stage, too.

Check out the full article here! You'll learn some fun facts and get the scoop on who to pay attention to for new tunes to bring to your class.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Question of the Week: Advice for New Instructors

I love hearing your ideas on common questions instructors have for each other. This week's question is: If you could give a new instructor only ONE piece of advice, what would it be?

First, the pieces of advice that multiple people suggested:

Care about your students. It's about them, not you. – Paula J. ...Valerie agreed, saying you should make your student feel better about themselves not worse because they're competing with you! Others extended this idea, with MJ saying to always remain humble and Patti reminding us that you’re an instructor, not a performer. Emma adds  to remember WHY you became an instructor, no matter how popular your class is YOU are only as good as your class… use your strengths and work on your weaknesses.

Christi said, “Connect with your students and make them ALL feel included.” Cindy agrees that it’s all about connecting, including both your students and other instructors. Bonnie had a similar piece of advice: Say hi and acknowledge EVERY single student, no matter what you think of them…. Some students will become discouraged by being ignored.

Keep it simple. If they feel successful, they will return! – Paula Y., Sonja, and Lynne

Cherie said Love what you are there for them and only them...everything else will follow. Efi agreed, saying that if you love Zumba, everything will be OK… students feel your energy!

Some shared very practical, logistical advice:

Rob and Denise both said to always have a back up for music (a CD, a cheap mp3 player, whatever…)
Practice. A lot. – Jacqueline … Darla and Kelly agree, and suggested practicing just by listening to the music a few times to learn the song as well as you learn the moves!

Take Pro Skills – Marylin

If you are facing your students, lead with your left side! – Sandra

Don’t look at your students’ feet. If they are off, then it will throw you off too. Look at their eyes and keep a smile on your face. – Amy

Others focused on the behavioral and emotional side of being an instructor:

Don't take it personally!! – Cindy

Have fun! – Patria

Don't take yourself too seriously - everyone screws up routines every now and again! – Cayla


Don't forget to add the flare!! – Jodi

Patience!! Don't be in a hurry and take your time! – Melanie

And, here’s my advice:

Be a professional. This means dressing the part, checking your own baggage at the door, being prepared and knowing your stuff, having back up music/clothes/whatever, treating all students with respect, and not letting personal relationships (good or bad) impact the class. Even though classes should be super fun for students, it’s  job for us (a fun job, yes, but still a job!) and we have to treat it that way!

What else would you add?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Five Things NEVER to do Before Class

Sometimes, you learn a lesson the hard way. Here are a few tips on things NOT to do before you teach a class!
  • Moisturize: It sounds harmless, but there is nothing grosser than sweating and having salty lotion drip into your eyes and mouth. Save it for after your post-class shower!

  • Have that extra cocktail the night before: Plan ahead! It's way too easy to be convinced to have "just one more" when you're out, so know your limits in advance and stick to your guns. Teaching a cardio format while hungover isn't cute.

  • Second guess yourself: A group ex instructor should be confident in his or her ability to run a great class and give everyone a solid workout. Don't let self-doubt creep into your head right before class starts - it'll distract you and students can smell fear.

  • Put on a new, never-worn outfit: Never ever try to teach a class in new workout clothes. Try everything on in advance and do a few squats and jumps to make sure you'll be comfortable. There are few things that are worse than watching an instructor tug a shirt or shorts down or readjust the girls for an hour!

  • Change your playlist: Unless something major happens, stick with what you've planned. You can always do something different next week, and trying something unrehearsed can have unintended consequences, like running too long or accidentally having too many of the same moves back to back.
What else would you say an instructor should NEVER do before class?