Wednesday, December 30, 2015

So. Pregnant.

I'm so pregnant. Like, so pregnant. I'm one day shy of 40 weeks, and somehow the days seem to be moving slower. Having lots of pre-labor symptoms (Braxton-Hicks, stuffy nose/sore throat, etc.), but no real action yet.

Here are a few random thoughts, in no particular order.

1. I took my last pregnant Zumba class at 38 weeks, and it was more fun than I thought it would be. I was worried that I would get too out of breathe but I was able to do almost everything. I say my "last" class purely because of scheduling and convenience... I actually did some Zumba on my own yesterday, checking out ZIN 60 (finally). I thought the first handful of songs were really good - love the classic choreo from Beto. Hopefully I'll check out the rest today.

2. I went for a walk yesterday and listed to a bunch of my Z songs. I was kind of worried that after not teaching for a couple of months I would forget everything. Nope, still got it, in my head at least! I'm definitely worried about learning new material with a newborn and limited brain capacity (hello, sleep deprivation!) but I hope it's not too much harder than it was pre-baby.

3. Aside from being very excited and anxious to meet our little girl, I'm really looking forward to getting back to a healthy routine. I have exercised pretty consistently throughout my pregnancy, but I miss running and setting challenging goals for myself. I miss marathon jam sessions and being able to push myself. It'll be nice to see the numbers on the scale start going on the opposite direction, too!

4.  One of my fears: not getting back into shape quickly enough to be the instructor I want to be. I worked so hard to be able to kill it for a whole hour long class, giving 150% of my energy (because let's be honest, if you only give 100% you get about 50% from your students) and doing it all with a smile on my face. I wonder how long it will take me to get back there physically, but also to have the same level of confidence in my teaching that I had before I took my body on this wild ride.

Is it just me, or can anybody relate to any of this?

Monday, December 28, 2015

Ring in the New Year with Healthy Habits

A guest post by Shelly Stinson

Sadly, statistics show that only one out of every eight people actually succeed at making their dreams a reality after setting a New Year’s resolution. While this may make you want to give up on whatever it is you want right now—whether it be weight loss, a higher level of fitness, or just better health—claiming defeat before it’s even occurred, the reality is that you can be the one in eight who makes it. How? By developing healthy habits.

As Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” In other words, if you just put some regular actions into place, this will be your year to make all of your health and fitness dreams come true. Certainly, there are many different habits that can get you there, but there are four that stand out as being extremely effective if it’s results that you’re after.

#1: Relieve Your Stress, Often

No matter what your health and fitness goal, being anxious and worried all of the time can prevent you from achieving it due to the negative consequences of too much stress (think lower immunity, more fatigue, and emotional eating). Fortunately, there are many options when it comes to regular stress relief, so all you have to do is pick the ones that are most appealing to you. For instance, some people prefer relatively low-key activities like meditating, practicing mindfulness, or talking to a friend. However, others find a great deal of stress relief in more intense physical actions such as playing sports, taking a hike, or dancing to their favorite songs. Figure out what relieves your stress best and do it. Often.

#2: Eat More Veggies

Not only are vegetables low in calories and fat (and the ones that do contain fat have the good kind), they are also loaded with a multitude of vitamins and minerals that your body’s systems need to function at optimal levels. Additionally, they help increase your energy, which is a bonus for anyone with a busy schedule. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t ever eat some of your favorites. As College News suggests, just give yourself a “Treat Day” every once in a while, eating healthfully most of the time.

#3: Make Fitness Fun

If you believe that hitting your fitness goals means spending the next 365 doing the same activity over and over again, you’re likely to give up sooner rather than later. While exercising is obviously a healthy habit to have, you also need to find a way to make fitness fun to stay motivated. Choose activities you enjoy doing and getting into shape will be more of a joy versus a dread. And if you’re not sure what activities those are, don’t be afraid to try new things like kickboxing or rock climbing. Who knows? You may just like them.

#4: Get More Sleep

The health benefits of sleep are numerous, ranging from lowering your risk of disease to helping you manage chronic pain. This makes getting enough shuteye a good habit to work toward this year if your goal is total health and wellness. So give yourself a curfew and make sure you stick to it. It also helps to create a bedtime ritual that makes you drowsy, so consider the activities that put you most at ease (like reading or a hot bath) and do them right before you go to sleep.

Do these four things and your New Year’s resolution is well within your grasp. Can’t you just feel it?

Shelly Stinson is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. When she's not writing she's usually exploring the outdoors or the Denver food scene. Follow her on Twitter: @shellystins.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Here come the resolution exercisers... Are you ready for 2016?

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

As 2015 comes to a close shortly, many of us take time to reflect on the year that was. I am no different.

What’s struck me this year is the many goals I achieved and the changes that happened. For instance, in January, I ran in my first half marathon in Orlando at Walt Disney World and while I didn’t finish, the confidence that even competing in it gave me propelled me to do many other things throughout the year.

In the early part of 2015, I started cardio conditioning at a local gym dedicated to spinning and found that I loved it. So much so that beginning in 2016, I will not only be teaching Zumba there, I will be getting certified to become a spin instructor myself. Additionally, I left my full-time job of more than 10 years to pursue a career in the fitness industry. It has had many ups and downs but I am happy I made the decision I did to help others achieve their health and wellness goals.

There are so many others I could list but it’s time to look forward to 2016 and the influx of new people who will no doubt be in our classes after making New Year’s resolutions. Are you ready? Here’s a few tips on how to keep those folks coming back to you and make their New Year’s resolutions a lifestyle.

1 – Be patient. Remember, they are just starting out with something new and may need a little more TLC in the beginning. If possible, “pair” them with a veteran in your class until they get used to it but try to encourage them as much as possible without setting them apart too much.

2 – Be motivating. ALL students need to hear to “keep it up” and such but newbies especially need this. In my experience, those new to exercise tend to hit the wall quicker and want to give up. Taking a moment to give them a high five or telling them they’re doing great may help push them through.

3 – Be yourself. Not much to say here but just be you. People will come back to your class because they like the way you smile or move your hips or whatever it is you do. Don’t change just because new people are in the room.

4 – Be “spontaneous.” What I mean here is that in order to put everyone on a level playing field, throw in a new song no-one knows the routine to yet or maybe a new exercise no-one has done before. Nothing will alienate someone trying out group classes more than when it seems like everyone already knows what to do and they don’t.

5 – Be prepared. Unfortunately, people who have been exercising and going to group classes for a while tend to be a little impatient when January rolls around so be prepared to hear a little complaining from your regulars about classes being more full and their “spot” on the floor being taken or the parking lot being full or whatever it may be. Just remind those folks that they were new once too and think about how they would’ve felt if some of the things they were saying were said about them in the beginning. Perspective usually helps calm them down.

6 – Be understanding. Sadly, not everyone will come back or stick to that resolution. Reach out to them once or twice if you haven’t seen them after a class or two but don’t take it personal if you don’t hear back or see them again. Everyone has their season and when they’re ready, you can always be there for them when they are.

I want to take a moment to wish everyone a happy holiday season and a prosperous 2016. Be kind to each other and stay healthy!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Zumba Memes Galore!

This post is by Dana, a guest blogger on The Z Beat!
Everyone loves a good Zumba meme! It’s a fun way to promote yourself as an instructor in addition to adding a little pizazz to your weekly class postings. Copy, share, post on Facebook and Instagram, and sprinkle them around! Have fun!
#cough #cough I am too sick to come to work, but I will see you at Zumba class!
C:\Users\E170290\Dana TWC New Computer\Misc\Zumba\sniffle sniffle.jpg

#roses are red #violets are blue I love Zumba more than I love you
C:\Users\E170290\Dana TWC New Computer\Misc\Zumba\truth.jpg

#so much to do #so little time
C:\Users\E170290\Dana TWC New Computer\Misc\Zumba\to do list.jpg

#choices #choices #choices #lookingfantastic
C:\Users\E170290\Dana TWC New Computer\Misc\Zumba\outfit.jpg
#best hour of my day #Zumba
C:\Users\E170290\Dana TWC New Computer\Misc\Zumba\hour.jpg
C:\Users\E170290\Dana TWC New Computer\Misc\Zumba\wepa.jpg
#this gal is on fiiiyyyyyah
C:\Users\E170290\Dana TWC New Computer\Misc\Zumba\fire.jpg
How do you express your ZUMBA love? We’d love to see your Zumba memes!

Monday, December 14, 2015

What Would You Do?

I giggle every time I see this video pop up on my Facebook feed (which is like, every third post right now). In case you missed it:

No rompas más mi pobre corazón me estás pegando justo entiendo......󾠙󾠙󾠙󾠙󾠙󾠙 caballo dorado saco ese baile
Posted by El Mimoso Oficial on Thursday, December 10, 2015

But, it got me thinking about new students or students who struggle to keep up with our classes. What options do we have? We can:
  • Offer more visual cues than usual to help him or her out
  • Use some verbal cues until he or she gets used to the class format
  • Ignore it
  • Kick him or her out of the room (JUST kidding. Don't send hate mail.)

Of those three options, I usually offer more verbal cues (along with visuals) than I normally would. And it's not because I mind if someone is on the wrong foot or arm - calories don't know the difference, right? But, I do worry about other students getting distracted, or worse, getting hurt because they've collided with someone sashaying in the wrong direction.

I also try to identify if the student is 1) oblivious to the fact that he or she is off, 2) aware of it but doesn't mind, or 3) frustrated by not being able to pick up the moves. The folks in group number 2 don't really need anything other than understanding peers; if they're happy, I'm happy. Group number 1 makes me nervous because that's when people can get hurt. For them, I may stand next to them for certain moves with directional changes until they catch on. And I feel for group number 3 - Zumba should be super fun, not frustrating! For this group, I exaggerate my cues and, after class (and discretely!) ask if they have any questions. Sometimes people ask me to review moves with them, which I'm always happy to do.

So, how do you handle a student gone rogue?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Tips for Sticking with Your Workout Schedule

This post is by Dana, a guest blogger on The Z Beat!
As winter approaches and the dark sets in early it is sometimes hard to get to the gym, especially after a long day at work or a long day spent with the kids. The good news is that most likely when you are done your workout you will feel INCREDIBLE and inevitably HAPPY that you made it to the gym. 
Need a little help actually getting to the gym? Read on…

Some Helpful Tips to Get You to the Gym:
  • Pack your gym clothes in your car so you have no reason to go home after work.
  • Block the time off in your calendar so you have a reminder pop up.
  • Find a gym buddy and make a gym date so you are committing to meet someone at a specific time.
  • Register for a class or reserve a bike so you have an actual time you have to be at the gym.
  • Make an appointment with a trainer so someone is expecting you to be there.
  • Tell someone that you are going to the gym. Saying it out lout and engaging others in your plans will help keep the importance of that plan top-of mind. Telling other people will also make you more accountable because inevitably someone is going to say, “How was the gym”….You don’t want to have your tail between your legs and tell them you didn’t go because it was cold outside.
  • Have a reward in your mind that you can take advantage of after the gym (a sugar-free skinny soy latte), or work towards something bigger (the new shoes you’ve had your eyes on, or that workout attire from your favorite store)
  • Post it on Facebook and let everyone know you’ll be at the gym. Don’t forget to check in when you get there (hehe)!

Here are some other motivational tactics to stay motivated through your fitness journey!
  • Keep your gym music fresh. High-energy music will help you work out with more intensity and focus.
  • Get enough sleep! Lack of sleep will derail your training program faster than anything. Most people overcompensate for their lack of energy by eating too much or skipping the gym altogether.
  • Be patient. Make a promise to yourself to stick with it for at least 3 or 4 months. Consistency is key.
  • Don't try to change every habit at once. Choose one habit to change at a time. For example, start with "get at least 7 hours of sleep each night."
  • Stick to your diet and exercise plan for at least 30 consecutive days. The more often behaviors are repeated, the more likely they will become ingrained and habitual.

What motivates you to get to the gym? Share your best tidbits and motivational tactics.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Some Holiday ZINspiration

While the holiday season is full of cheer, it's also full of calories! Not only are we regularly confronted with big meals, desserts, and drinks, social gatherings and preparations cut into workout time in a big way. It's a holiday double whammy! This week, The Z Beat is bringing you some extra motivation to stay focused on your health goals. Today, we have a round up of some of my favorite ZINspiration stories. You can see all the ZINspiration stories here.

Sonja went from being overweight and unhappy to the instructor with the purple hair, beaming with confidence and inspiring others to get healthy!

Rob built new healthy habits, quit smoking and lost weight!

Wendy went from a size 16 to a size 4, getting healthy for her family through changing her diet and finding Zumba

Ana lost 70 pounds, found enough confidence to shake off her shyness to become an instructor, and became a health coach to inspire others!

Nekisha ditched the meds and got addicted to getting healthy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Sleep-Fitness-Health Connection

I've been thinking a lot lately about the importance of good sleep, mostly because I used to be a stellar sleeper but at 8 months pregnant, things have changed! I also had the opportunity to try a new fitness tracker, the REM-Fit Active 200, which focuses its users on the importance not only of intentional exercise, but also of regular activity and good sleep (be sure to read to the end for a discount code!). This is another great holiday gift idea.

The REM-Fit Active 200 is unique in that it's made by a bedding company. Yep, these folks understand how to get some ZZZs! The tracker can be worn as a bracelet or as a belt/pocket clip on (which I really like because I wouldn't wear a tracker bracelet to work!). Through the REM-Fit app, you can view steps taken, distance traveled, and calories burned like other trackers. You also rack up ActivePoints, which reflect the intensity and duration of activity. I liked this feature because I've been known to march in place to hit my step count using my other steps tracker... but you can't fool the REM-Fit into giving you ActivityPoints!

But, the really interesting feature with this tracker are SleepPoints. When you go to bed, you hit a button in the app and when you wake up, you can find out have much deep, light, and REM sleep you got. Over a few days, I was able to look for trends (yep, I'm a data nerd!) and found that if I go to bed too early, I actually get worse sleep. Go figure! Here's why sleep is so important, according to Harvard Medical School:

Sleep is often one of the first things to go when people feel pressed for time. Many view sleep as a luxury and think that the benefits of limiting the hours they spend asleep outweigh the costs... Medical conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, develop over long periods of time and result from a number of factors... [but] insufficient sleep has also been linked to these and other health problems, and is considered an important risk factor.

The tracker came with the REM-Fit 300 pillow, which is made of memory foam and has temperature control features so it doesn't get too warm. I can't stand a hot pillow so I found this extra comfy for sleeping.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this pair of products as a holiday gift for someone who's into data and sees the connection between sleep and health. One thing that I found is that the step counter isn't as sensitive as other trackers, so if your main goal is getting 10K steps a day, you may be disappointed with the REM-Fit's way of counting steps. But, if you want a holistic view of health and a super comfy pillow, I'd give these products a try!

Good news! The nice folks at REM-Fit are offering you 20% off all of their products! Just use the code JC20 at check out. Happy shopping! 

Note: I received the REM-Fit Active 200 and 300 pillow in exchange for posting a review. However, all opinions are my own and honest!