Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Zumba Time All the Time

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

Let's just say you can take the girl out of the Zumba class but you can't take the Zumba class out of the girl! Here are just two examples of what I mean.

Table for Two: The evening starts off innocently enough. I promise myself that I am NOT going to talk about Zumba because the people that I am with are not Zumba enthusiasts. I get it all out of my system by listening to Zumba music while getting ready to go out and dancing around the house. On the way to pick up my friends I blare my favorite merengue and scream the words out the window at the top of my lungs. I think I have gotten it ALL out of my system.

My friends get in the car and say “How are you?”….”Good” I respond with the local top 40 station softly playing in the background. I think we made it about 30 minutes before the topic of Zumba comes up. They ask how classes are going “Good Good” I say as I brush the entire topic under the table as I truly try to move on with the discussion; and then it happens at dinner. I hear a song that I MUST HAVE FOR CLASS. So I break out my phone, stand up and I hold my arm up in the air like I am saluting the ceiling in the middle of appetizers. I honestly don’t care if people are looking, or what they are thinking because I am Shazam-ing my next favorite song and all I can think about is choreography.  

(Video Credit: ZIN Rob Powell)

The Night Out: After dinner it is decided among the group that everyone wants to go dancing. Hmmmm you think to yourself, dancing. “Well, I really can’t dance you blurt out”, and then it comes. The blank stare, the awkward moment of silence and the screaming “WHAT!!!?? You dance a zillion times a week”. But really have you ever tried going to a club and dancing? I don’t mean doing your best Zumba routine on the middle of the dance floor as your friends join in and follow you on queue. I mean actually dancing. I have found that is so hard making that transition from doing a Zumba routine or choreographing a new routine with Zumba steps to actually just letting loose and dancing. It is especially difficult when “your” Zumba songs comes on. I mean it is like a magnetic force trying to hold you back as you break out in a routine in the middle of the dance floor.

But before you know it you do a few small steps, make a few hand gestures like you are doing the routine, you inch your way out on the dance floor, then you get a little bolder and make bigger moves and by the end of the song you and your peeps are full fledge Zumba-ing on the dancefloor. The outcome? #Zumbahigh and yes you can dance, and it feels great! However, I am going to venture to say that while Zumba does encompass dancing, *most* cases you can’t substitute dancing for Zumba when you are in a club. Put that caveat in your back pocket and go for the let’s-get-the-party-started theme and get on that dance floor, start your best cumbia, bachata or merengue, and I guarantee before you know it people will be shimmying and shaking with you. Does this look familiar?

# Zumbatime #Anytime

Saturday, March 19, 2016

10 Reasons Why We Screw Up in Class

We all have moments that belong on the Zumba instructor blooper reel. But why? I've narrowed it down to one of these 10 reasons. AmIright?

1. Suddenly remembering an item for your To Do list: Groceries! Carpool pick-up! Finishing your taxes! It's SO hard to put those things out of your head, no matter how hard you try. If I miss a step, I've likely just remembered I forgot to put my laundry in the dryer.

2. So-and-so is talking... again: Look, I'm not a tyrant or anything but when people consistently talk while you're trying to remember what comes next it can be totally distracting. It's only natural to wonder if you're being complained about (it probably has nothing to do with you, but you can't help but think about it...).

3. Wardrobe malfunction: Was that my bra strap snapping undone? Could my undies be any bunchier? Whatever it is, you know what I mean - anything having to do with your clothes when you're in front of a room full of students is an instant distraction.

4. Someone just walked out the door: Everything from, "Is he OK?" to "What the heck, why don't you like my class?" runs through your head.

5. Someone just walked in the door: Hello, Leslie Late-pants. Thanks for drawing everyone's attention away from my new cumbia!

6. Thinking about food: Mmmm, burritos.

7. Thinking about booze: MMMM, margaritas!

8. Suddenly remembering an item for your To Do list, again: You start repeating "laundry, laundry, laundry" to yourself until you have no idea what you're supposed to do next.

9. Feeling exhausted: Sometimes your choreo is so killer you kick your own butt. All that energy spent wondering if you can make it through another song really takes away from actually remembering your moves.

10. Feeling blissful: Every once in a while, it hits you - I love being an instructor! "Look at all of these smiling faces. This is great! Everybody loves m--shoot, what comes next?"

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

How to be prepared for (almost) anything!

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

There are a variety of lessons I have learned over the past couple of years as a fitness instructor. Some lessons have been invaluable and some have been funny… as a result of a complete mishap. What I have learned on a fundamental level is to be prepared for the expected AND the unexpected.

Extra Shoes: I am sure you will encounter that day when you are late and running around like a chicken with your head cut off and you realize most likely too late that you either forgot your workout shoes, or you brought two left shoes instead of a full pair. I learned the hard way that keeping an extra pair of shoes in my car (even if they are an old pair) will help resolve that disaster. Old and worn out shoes are better than no shoes! The bonus, one day one of my students came straight from a yoga class and forgot her shoes and I let her borrow my spare pair, win-win for both of us!

Stereo Wires: It is so hard to keep track of all of the different fitness clubs and their rules and procedures on music hook-ups. Don’t be caught in a class with the wrong wires! Keep an extra set of wires (all types) in your gym bag. That way you will be prepared for any type of stereo system.  If your iPhone or iPod happens to break or go dead I would highly recommend ALWAYS having a back-up CD in your car with your favorite playlist stored on it. It’s better to be safe than sorry. I have been in class when the music situation has not been favorable and I can promise you the quality of your class will suffer. One class I knew how awful the stereo system was acting prior to the actual class and I rolled in a portable sound system to ensure that we would be able to party to audible tunes!

Undergarments: The day you forget your sports bra is not a happy day. The day you are teaching, wear a sports bra under your clothes or put an extra one in your purse, your car or gym bag. Not having adequate clothing or having an outfit that is uncomfortable will inevitably make you feel awkward during class. In addition to having an extra pair of threads with you, I would recommend knowing your style and size in the active wear department in Target in case you have to make a pit stop before class.

Stay Hydrated: We all have those days when you don’t have time to eat enough before class. We also have those days where you forget to grab an extra bottle water, and when you get to the gym; the café is closed for maintenance! Don’t be stuck without something to drink. It’s not a good idea to keep filled plastic water bottles in your car, but you can always keep an empty bottle or water cup that you can at least fill up at the water fountain.

We hope these little “lessons learned” helps you avert a mishap during one of your fitness classes. Share your funny oops with us and your helpful hints. You never know when someone else will experience the same thing! #happyfitnessinstructor #shoes #music #sportsbra #water

Monday, March 7, 2016

ZINspiration Monday with Mae

We're back with a ZINspiration Monday story! If you have a story you'd like to share, please email me at It's a great way to inspire others!

Here is Mae's story.

In September 2006 I began a journey into hell when I was struck with a rare neurological disorder termed "the suicide disease." I went from an outgoing, high energy special ed teacher to an isolated depressed shell of a woman who feared the outdoors, wind, touch, and anything else that would trigger the next lightning bolt of pain. After trying all sorts of medications for pain I gained 40 pounds!

My hubby finally said he was going to get me a membership to a local gym and wanted me to try getting out to try some classes there. I went a few times but found that I was buckled in pain from the wind created by the fans at the gym. I got up the courage to ask the instructor if she could make sure the fans were not facing me during the class and tried one more time. I LOVED IT. In the winter my hubby drove me to class as the shocks I went into from going outside prevented me from driving.

I pushed myself to go at least 3 times a week and fell in love with the dance classes. I made friends and the instructor would even invite me on stage weekly to dance with her. In early 2008 she brought a new style to the club, something called Zumba, and I was hooked. The combination of Zumba and healthy eating helped me shed the 40 pounds and I soon became very involved, even helping to organize a Zumbathon for the gym.

In 2012 I knew I was ready for MORE. I had a brain surgery that was unsuccessful, but through it all I kept my goal in sight. I became licensed  to teach in March of 2012 and asked the woman who supported me since I joined the gym to be my mentor. Because I wasn't going to work at the gym she said she couldn't. I found another girl who had her own studio and asked her to be my mentor. She said, "Yes!" Mylene Facchini took me under her wing and kicked my butt. She taught me how to cue, timing and technique, and all the rhythms. She took me around to all the places she worked and had me teach a few numbers weekly. Eventually she had me teach her whole class and videotaped me. She walked me through where I was making mistakes and praised me on my strong points. She introduced me to ZES's, ZJ's and other instructors. I was like her shadow and I was loving it. She understood me and supported me even though I had a neurological disorder.

I now own my own private studio where my class is run by donation (if you can pay you do, if not you don't) with partial proceeds going to the Trigeminal Neuralgia Association after each 10 week session. Even though I have really, really bad days with my disorder, I feel successful and I feel as if I am inspiring others! Lifetime Athletic hired me last July to be on their fitness instructor team in Ajax, Ontario. I teach AQUA ZUMBA twice a week and Zumba TONING as well. The class helps relieve the pain for a brief period of time and the ladies lift my spirits. Thanks to Mylene, who is a Jammer now, and Sharon Gilbank who also helped me along the way, I feel that I am a great instructor with passion and spirit. I wish that everyone could have her to mentor them, she truly is amazing and no words can express the love I feel for her and the gift she has given me.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

When Sharing Isn’t Caring Anymore

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

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Facebook groups, forums and blogs that deal with fitness or fitness instructors. Something happened in many of the Zumba-related ones last week and it got me thinking about how the power of social media can be used in both good and bad ways. It also got me to thinking that conversations can get ugly, fast.

Without rehashing a situation that has since been resolved, the issue was about this year’s ZIN convention; to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of ZIN, the home office would allow non-licensed family, friends and others to attend the convention for an additional cost.

A seemingly good idea to some was met a lot of anger. For the record, I didn’t like the idea, but that isn’t what this column is about. My background is as a journalist and social media manager so I tend to look at a post’s bigger picture rather than just the topic at hand.

Since we’re talking about health and fitness, and in this case our favorite form of exercise and stress relief, I think we have to be extra sensitive online. I’m certainly not trying to police what other people say, but I’d like to offer some friendly and gentle advice on ways to better utilize forums when a sensitive topic comes up.

1 – Read (and re-read) the ENTIRE initial post to make sure you are clear on what is being asked or presented. A lot of times, people who are commenting on an initial post haven’t really read the whole post or even bothered to click on a link before registering a response. This can create rash judgements and misunderstandings and threads can get out of hand quickly.

2 – Be respectful to what others are saying, even if you disagree. Calling each other names or insulting someone because they don’t feel like you do or think differently is cyber bullying!

3 – Stay on topic. Too many posts rehash old arguments or turn into one-on-one battles and that solves nothing.

4 – Agree to disagree and walk away friends. This is probably the hardest thing to do. We all have our opinions and sometimes we won’t persuade others to our side but that doesn’t mean we’re right or wrong.

5 – Remember that all caps indicates yelling so when a post is typed that way, the reader automatically gets defensive.

6 – Be professional in everything you post, even in a closed group. I am not saying to be dishonest if you are truly upset but try to use the rule that if you wouldn’t address your students or colleagues that way, then maybe you shouldn’t post that way either. Remember, anyone can copy and paste and send to whomever they want.

7 – Try not to dismiss anyone’s comment by patronizing them. Saying things like “aren’t we all just supposed to share love?” can be frustrating and make others feel like they’re not being heard.

I welcome your thoughts and until next time, be healthy!