Monday, December 10, 2018

Living, Loving and Giving with Zumba™ Fitness Instructor Rochi Bracale.

#Giving: According to the most recent findings, Americans gave $410 billion dollars to various charities in 2017. As we get closer to the holidays people are typically more generous, and open their wallets and hearts to those in need. For Zumba™ Fitness Instructor Rochi Bacale, giving has always been a part of her DNA. We sat down and talked with Rochi about her fitness career and her passion about helping others.

"Through my life I’ve seen my grandma and dad always being helpful and supporting of others in need in our city and poor areas in Peru. That always motivated me to follow in the same path. In 2010 I did my first Zumba™ fundraiser dedicated to one of our member's kid that had blood cancer. We had over 200 people attend our event, and the support in the community was amazing. Since then I realized the importance of helping each other in good and bad times. I realized the importance of being able to stand behind causes that I believe in, and use my ability to influence the behavior of others to drive them to step up to help the community and those in need; and that is what keeps me going".

"I want to bring people together through ZUMBA™, to create a community based on one love and helping each other. This is my passion."

Eventbrite published an article on ten easy steps on hosting a fitness fundraiser. Here are a few helpful tips to get you thinking about how you can plan and host a Zumba™ Fitness fundraising event.
  1. Step 1: Define your cause. ...
  2. Step 2: Set a fundraising goal. ...
  3. Step 3: Create your charity event's budget. ...
  4. Step 4: Pinpoint a target audience. ...
  5. Step 5: Find a venue. ...
  6. Step 6: Establish a theme for your charity event. ...
  7. Step 7: Market your charity event aggressively. ...
  8. Step 8: Decide how you'll accept donations.
#Loving: There is nothing more important than loving what you do and sharing that love with others. Zumba™ Fitness is the perfect foundation for creating a place where love radiates through the community. I asked Rochi to tell us what she thought the most important piece of advice would be for any Zumba™ instructor from a newbie to a tenured instructor. The answer was surprisingly the same! "In every single minute in Zumba™ class feel the mindfulness of being in the PRESENT and always BE YOURSELF. The most important piece is connecting with students, admiring their faces and feeling their energy and connection. As a Zumba™ instructor, I feel I am there to cheer them up and create an atmosphere to add it all together under the same purpose: Loving, living, feeling and giving while being present and connected in the NOW as one loving and amazing strong community".

Fitness is a lifestyle, a journey and a destination. We talked to Rochi about her fitness journey, and how she got involved in the Zumba™ fitness community. "I was born and raised in Lima-Peru and started my journey in fitness mid-90s. I was competitive not only in several sports but also as Peruvian National Aerobic Champion in 1989 and 1991. Both times I qualified for the world competitions in San Diego, CA and Las Vegas, NV, which involved several months of training and commitment in Brazil and USA and working with sponsors. I had to commit to demanding training routines which were not only physical but mentally challenging to obtain the best training to be prepared for competitions. The highlight of this time during my fitness career was getting to travel to compete among very competitive teams of the world, giving me experience to specifically overcome stage fright as many times we were in front of hundreds of people. Getting to know all the different nationalities in the same place with the same purpose was great."

"During all this time in the 90s I became a Group fitness instructor and worked and studied at the same time. It was challenging, but by 1991 I knew my future and career would be in fitness. In 1996 I partnered with a former Peruvian Tennis professional and we opened our first fitness club in Lima, Peru. This venture was a total success we ended up opening two more studios. I was in charge of the group fitness management program in all of them".

"Since the 90s I’ve taught several formats like cycling, step, cardio/strength, cardiokickbox, etc. My dance passion started in 2001 when I was working in a gym in Virginia and I had to sub for a “dance class”. As an athlete and a hard core instructor the format was not familiar and not comfortable for me, but that feeling didn't last for too long. Zumba™ became my passion in 2010 and I’ve been dedicated and focused to Zumba™ fundraising events since then. Over the last few years I’ve had two injuries that have kept me from teaching for over a year. With determination, discipline and a positive mindset, learning how to be “patient”, the illusion of looking forward to be in class with my students helped me big time to overcome it". 


Find Rochi Online!


Friday, December 7, 2018

Zumba®️ Jammer (ZJ™️) Jeremy Devaal Dishes on Hosting and Having Fun at a Zumba™ Jam Session

Zumba®️ Jammer (ZJ™️) Jeremy Devaal 
Interview conducted by Zumba™ Fitness Intstructor Megan Hernandez
Often when I am out meeting new (and old) instructors I will ask them if they have attended any recent ZIN™️ Jam sessions. Here is how the conversation goes...

Me: "Have you been to any ZIN™️ Jam sessions lately?"
Instructor: "No".
Me: "Why?"
Instructor: "I haven’t seen a listing for a ZIN™️ Jam session nearby".
Me: "Did you know that you can host one?"

Instructor: "I can host a ZIN™️ Jam session?"

Knowing that hosting a ZIN™️ Jam session can require a lot of work and has a lot of moving pieces, this month I spoke with Zumba®️ Jammer (ZJ™️) Jeremy Devaal from Minnesota to find out all the particulars so that ANYONE can host their own ZIN™️ Jam session!! Take a seat, grab your coffee and meet Jeremy....

A Little Bit About Jeremy:
M: Jeremy, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became a Zumba®️ Jammer.
J: I am currently working full time as a scheduling coordinator for a dental office. I started teaching Zumba®️ Fitness in March 2013. I had lost so much weight attending Zumba®️ Fitness classes, and I wanted to continue and help others to lose weight and be healthy! I have lost nearly 50lbs and built muscle. I am in the best shape of my life and all from Zumba®️ Fitness formats, including Strong by Zumba®️. I have been a ZJ™️ for two years now and cannot believe where it has taken me! Back in high school, I would have never thought in a million years that I would become a fitness presenter. Now, I can’t imagine my life without it! Zumba®️ Fitness has taken me so many places and I have met so many amazing people! Though I do love a good board game and hanging out with friends, Zumba®️ Fitness is my passion! 

Booking a Zumba® Jammer:
M: Jeremy, there are a lot of folks out there that are not sure how to book a ZJ™️ for their area. Can you share how they would find a ZJ™️ to come to their venue and who can request a ZJ™️? 
J: Hosting a ZIN™️ Jammer for a ZIN™️ Jam™️ session is super easy! While a ZJ™️ may have hosts they continue to work with in the past, we are never opposed to a new host. That being said, ANYONE can host a ZIN™️ Jam. It’s as simple as reaching out to us via email, text, Facebook message, etc. Many prefer email, and it’s super simple as we all have an email from Zumba®️ Fitness for us to use. Our emails are simply We don’t have a database where you can just locate your area and find who comes to your area. The best is to just ask the community. You can go to your District Forum pages at or your District page on Facebook and ask around. Someone will surely be able to point you to ZJ™️s who come to your area. 

Finding the Right Venue:
M: What type of places are you willing to do a ZIN™️ Jam session? Can people just use their GX rooms? 

J: Venues are pretty open. It needs to have a sound system with typical connections for playing music. We prefer a larger space with an upwards capacity of 40 people (30 people max for ZIN™️ Jam session plus all their belongings). The flooring should be appropriate for a Zumba®️ Fitness class, hard wood, smooth, etc. I’ve had ZIN™️ Jams in a stand alone studio, gym studio, gymnasium, racket ball court; open gym studio. Really, if you have a space that can hold people, let’s chat! All we ask is that we get to use the space for free. And in return we offer complimentary registrations. For my sessions, I give one comp spot up front, and the second one becomes available once we hit 15 registrations. Not saying we are opposed to renting a space, just know that if we do, we become the host and there are most likely not going to be any comp spots given. So definitely getting to use the space for free is the most ideal option.

Is There a Participant Minimum?:
M: How many people does the instructor need to have attend for you to come? 
J: There is technically no minimum participant requirement, and I have done a Jam with 2 people before. But also know we really want to cover costs for having the session. If we’re traveling to a new area, we may ask that you get some commitment of participation BEFORE we follow through and the session gets posted. The reason is simple, the session is for ZIN™️ members and we want to make sure they can attend! If everyone is going to be out of town on a weekend, it doesn’t make sense to do it that weekend. And we all know dancing with more people is more fun, just like your Zumba®️ Fitness classes. Hosts (usually the gym/facility) and liaison (usually the ZIN™ booking the event) technically aren’t required to do anything else. We ask that you, as a host help share the event, tell ZIN™️ in your area about it, and let people know it’s happening! It is a plus and we hope that you are connected in the community to get the word out about the session. 

Travel Arrangements
M: Does the host/liaison need to provide housing or travel arrangements for the ZJ™️? 
J: You are never expected to house them, but it’s always appreciated if you can and helps cut down on our costs for the weekend. Also note, some ZJ™️s may prefer to get their own hotel room, but the offer to house means a lot. I have personally done both. Stayed at a house provided by my host, or someone the host set up, as well as stayed in a hotel. 

What Do I Need to Bring?: 
M: Will the host/liaison be required to provide materials or other items for the ZIN™️ Jam session? 
J: We don’t require you to provide anything else really, but we would never say no if you wanted to go above and beyond and provide simple snacks, water, that sort of thing. Pre-registration is HIGHLY recommended so that we can ensure to have enough choreo note packets for everyone. We generally only print of 1-2 extra copies for walk ins. Let us know if you plan to be a walk-in so that we know to save a packet for you. It’s very helpful! Pre-registration also gets you the playlist a few days before the session so you can start to learn the music. Learning the music is one of the hardest parts of learning choreography! 

How Much Does it Cost?:
M: Does the host/liaison have to pay you to come to their venue? 
J: The ZJ™️ is paid by the entrance fee to the ZIN™️ Jam session. The cost of a ZIN™️ Jam session is always $30 for each participant, as predetermined by Zumba®️ Fitness. PayPal is the preferred way to register as it’s all set up on the Zumba®️ Fitness website that way, but ZJ™️s can also decide if the they want to take cash, checks, credit card, Venmo, etc. I personally accept cards through Square, and occasionally get cash if I have a walk-in. 

Reasons to Host a ZIN™️ Jam Session?:
M: Why should someone host a ZIN™️ Jam session? 
J: ZIN™️ Jam sessions are more than just learning choreo. You get to spend time networking with other local ZIN™️, and get inspired! Who knows, you could potentially hear of a place that is hiring and be able to land a class as well! It’s not always WHAT you know, but WHO you know. Networking is SO important. And don’t forget you get Continuing Education Credits for your group fitness certifications, making attending a ZIN™️ Jam session one of the cheapest (and most fun 😉) ways to get your continuing education. 

Lastly, just remember to keep an open mind, you may discover something you didn’t think you would like, and I promise you’ll have a blast at any ZIN™️ Jam session you go to! These sessions are for YOU, and you better believe we want you to have fun and leave inspired!  

Interview conducted by Zumba™ Fitness Intstructor Megan Hernandez
Find Megan on Facebook

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Staying Motivated at the Gym With Zumba™ Fitness Instructor Megan Anastasio

Photo Credit: Yvette Meek:
We all know that Zumba™ Fitness classes are packed full of fitness, fun and friends. But did you know that there are actual health benefits of working out with a crowd? (i.e. your Zumba™ Family). Working out with a group helps maintain a more consistent workout schedule and helps with accountability and motivation. “Group workouts can have a couple of mental advantages over solo workouts. While it’s true that working out releases endorphins (think of that Zumba™ high), a group setting can lead to the release of endorphins outside of just physical exertion,” says John Ford certified exercise physiologist. He goes on to state, “One way is through smiling. Smiling has been shown to increase endorphin levels in studies. So when you’re in a great class or with a great bunch of people working out, that kind of conviviality can really make you feel great outside of just your runner’s (Insert Zumba) high. An added benefit of this mood boost is that when you’re pushing yourself hard and struggling through more difficult parts of your workout you’ll feel better and more energized to complete the exercises.”

I thought it would be interesting to discuss workout plans and motivation with a fitness instructor. It is true that as an instructor we “have” to be at class, but motivation can still be a factor as the seasons change and as life gets busy. Zumba™ Fitness Instructor Megan Anastasio talks about staying motivated. "I have a set workout plan along with all of the classes I teach. I am also really into strength training and weight lifting. It has really made me push myself to be something better and become stronger. I also lift with my best friend and she helps keep me motivated. We work off of each other. The advice I would give to anyone that has plateaued in their plan is to change things up. Change the workouts you are doing. Make sure you are doing cardio and strength training. Change up how you do your workouts so that you are always tricking your body into burning more fat and gaining muscle."

Megan hits three key characteristics of a successful workout plan:
1. Plan ahead! Make exercise part of your day and set a plan.
2. Find a workout Buddy! Meet a friend at the gym to provide accountability and motivation.
3. Change it up! Changing your routine not only keeps things fresh and fun, but helps your body burn fat and build muscle.

Along with teaching Zumba Fitness classes, Megan is a runner! I asked her how she went from a leisure runner to a marathon runner. “I started running in college because I didn’t have much to do to get a workout in. Once I moved back home and was going to the gym more I started running more. I found myself running 5ks with my sisters and falling in love with it. I then ran a 10k and was happy that I accomplished that. My next step was the Army 10 miler but it is really hard to get into that race because it sells out so fast. So I decided that I was going to train for a half marathon! I ran my first half last year and it was one of the best fitness accomplishments I ever completed. I will definitely be running more of them."

I also wanted to know how she keeps her class participants motivated. "I love fitness in general and am open to trying new things. I love the results I get from cardio with Zumba and also strength training. I also teach body works and I love pushing my students to the next level. I make sure my class is always something different so it keeps the class entertained and their muscles constantly working. It’s good to have more than just Zumba™ as something that keeps you fit and motivated."

Finding your squad and setting goals are so important to the success of your fitness plan! I always see Megan at the gym even when she isn't teaching. Most recently I was at the gym at 8am on a Saturday morning and ran into her. She was there with her workout buddy ready to hit the weights! She definitely set her alarm, and made her workout the start of her day! She certainly does what she says and is sticking to her fitness goals. "My fitness goals are to continue to grow as an instructor and keep my students happy. As well as continuing to run half Marathons and getting stronger while doing my strength training."

Thanks Megan for the great feedback! Now I will leave you with this: "There’s a bond that is created when a group struggles, sweats, fights and grinds their way through a tough workout.”

Monday, December 3, 2018

Zumba™ Fitness Instructor Mirna Arroyo Confesses....Top Ten Random Things That Happened in her Zumba™ Fitness Class 

One of the great things about Zumba™ Fitness is that every instructor and every class is different! When I say that every class is different, I mean no two instructors are alike, and none of my classes are the same. Each class differs whether it is the set list, the energy level, the participants, or the random things that happen during my Zumba™ Fitness classes. Read on for the Top 10...

1. Three guys (men) show up, among the many ladies
2. A member asks to plan a surprise engagement for his fiancee 70 people show up for class 
4. Zero people show up for class 
5. You change your whole playlist and it bombs! 
6. You teach back to back and run out of fuel
7. You see a member do a move that you end up including in your routine 
8. You do a move and everyone looks at you like WTH??!! 
9. You practice and practice and practice a routine (even while on vacation) and you forget everything - it's a total bust and you discard it. 
10. A member tells you that thanks to your class she no longer has back pain and sleeps like a baby!

What was your most random top thing that happened in YOUR Zumba™ Fitness class? 
*Image sourced from: