Tuesday, July 9, 2019

ZINCON® Tips & Tricks Part 1

ZINCON® is right around the corner, and I am sure that Zumba® instructors across the globe are already coordinating outfits, getting their bags ready and dreaming about convention! Personally, I am not attending this year {insert sad face}, but I did attend for several years in a row and have some feedback to share. 
  • ZINCON® Hotels: There are three major hotels where most Zumba® instructors stay during convention. At this point in time, most people have already booked their accommodations, nonetheless below are some things to consider.
    • Hyatt: Very nice hotel with a lot of amenities. It is where most of the action is during ZINCON®. It is also convenient to pop up to your room and change clothes or grab a snack between classes. The restaurants here are ALWAYS packed with VERY long lines. Plan to eat early, and allow time before your classes.
    • Rosen: Just a hop, skip and jump (across the bridge), the Rosen was recently refurbished and the rooms are certainly nice. The lobby used to be a "party" place after the evening ended, but the last two years I was there it was pretty quiet. There are a handful of restaurants here (including a general store) that is easy to access with reasonably priced meals. The pool here is spacious and the restaurant outside serves reasonably priced food. At night it is a great place to hang out away from the buzz if you need to decompress.
    • Hilton: The Hilton is a great place to stay to get away from the excitement if you need a break. While the hotel is nice it is a longer walk to most of the classes and events (held in the Hyatt). When you leave in the morning you may want to consider packing a bag with the essentials for the day.
  • Don't forget to eat! It is very easy to stay busy from the time you wake up until the minute your head hits the pillow. My advice would be DO NOT FORGET TO EAT. If you don't eat, it will bite you in the butt. Your body will feel it, and you will become tired early.  The Hyatt has easily accessible pop-up cafes and restaurants for food. There is also a convenience store right around the corner from the Hyatt that has chilled food, snacks and drinks. You can also get an Uber/Lyft or cab to a local grocery store if you want to stock your fridge. Some personal car companies even offer a pit-stop to the grocery store from the airport if you request it.
  • Don't forget to sleep! It is easy to stay awake around the clock because the music is pumping throughout the entire Hyatt hotel from the main stage, ballrooms, hallways and just about EVERYWHERE! It is OK to sleep, and your body needs it. It is easy to get run down on DAY 1 if you do not set aside some time to rest. Just like you are scheduling in classes, master classes, sessions and training, make sure you schedule in some time to sleep.
  • You do YOU. Don't be afraid to go to the sessions you want to go to, and experience ZINCON® the way you want to experience it. You can always meet up with your crew later in the day or back home in your hood. You won't be disappointed if you venture out alone. You never know who you will meet and what you will experience.
  • Packing for ZINCON®. Packing your bags oh my! This can be an overwhelming task. Here are a few helpful tips:
    • Clothes: Bring a change of clothes for each day you have sessions. You WILL be sweaty, and it is NO fun walking around the Hyatt sweaty with the hotel air conditioner blowing down your back. 
    • Sweatshirt: It may seem odd to bring a sweatshirt to Orlando, BUT DO IT. The ballrooms can be cold, especially if you are sitting down for training. 
    • Shoes: Bring more than one pair of shoes. You will want to rotate them throughout the weekend. 
    • Insoles: Don't forget your insoles for your shoes. 
    • Snacks: Pack snacks! Snack bars. Energy bars. Protein powder. Peanut butter. Crackers. Anything that is easy to carry and that can get you through your day. 
    • Fanny Pack: YES! I said it. A fanny pack, but you will need it. You are not allowed to take bags into the fitness concert. They also come in handy if you want to carry your essentials on you while you are dancing or in training.  
    • First Aid: You will inevitably need some sort of first aid, so just go ahead and throw it in your bag. Here are a few suggestions: Band aids (of ALL sizes), gauze pads, athlete tape (2 packs), Ace bandage, nail clippers, Neosporin, Aleve, Hydration gel and Nausea relief.
  •  Do NOT be THAT person...
    • Who cuts in line to get closer to the stage
    • Stays up all night to get in line for the Zumba® store when it opens
    • Who impedes someone's personal space
    • Who trips down the escalator to get a glimpse of Beto
    • Who literally pushes someone else in the hallway
Take your time. Be respectful of others. Remember your manners. We all know that the excitement can get the best of us sometimes, but remember to take a deep breathe and relax. You will be able to see the presenters wherever you sit in the ballroom. You will be able to be SEEN wherever you go. Everyone knows how fabulous you are, it is even more appealing when it is accompanied with manners. So have fun, and spread the Zumba® love.

I have A LOT more feedback, tips & tricks and insights, so stay tuned for another article later this week~xoxo Dana

Monday, July 1, 2019

Welcome to Monday! Welcome to July! Welcome to your new week. Every new day presents a time to move forward and NOT look back. With each class, week and month that passes by, as group fitness instructors we know that we just need to keep moving. If you had the most amaZINing class ever; live it, cherish it and breathe it in because that is almost the best feeling on earth. If you had a class that was painful, take it as a learning experience on what you can improve next time. 

With every single class that I teach I always make sure I personally greet new members to classes. I do this before class by introducing the "new" person to a "regular", or I give a high-five and a hello (depending upon how much time I have before class). At the end of class, I always make sure to make personal connections especially if someone "new" rocked the class, or if a "regular" really pushed themselves. Well, let's face it any reason to high-five, hug or take pics is great with me. 

Last week something in particular stuck out in my mind and I am still thinking about it. I was giving kudos to a "new" participant because they really did an amazing job in class AND they smiled almost the whole time! When I went up to compliment the individual they said, "Well this is my first time back at the gym in five years. I am so out of shape and fat". Immediately my after-Zumba®-high fell to the floor. I felt crushed that this member was measuring themselves by their past. What I was focused on was that this member was mindful, present and literally kicked butt for an hour of a killer sweatfest. Most importantly, they made the decision that TODAY would be the day they would try again on their fitness journey and that takes a lot of determination and courage. 

I felt honored that my class was the one they chose, probably by chance but at any rate, I had the opportunity to inspire someone else, and let's face it, that is why we do what we do. I encourage you to not only teach the class your songs and your routines, but help people be the best version of themselves. Help people see the positives in each of their experiences. Remind participants that they should be proud of the work they put in and not linger on the past or failures. At the end of the day, the present day is what truly matters. Let's spread physical fitness, positive vibes and kindness.   

Thursday, May 2, 2019

The Goldilocks Story....Almost

Have you every thought about offering a new format at your gym? Or, what if you just got certified for a new Zumba format, then what? Maybe you are interested in getting a new gig, but how?

As all ZIN™ members know, we get licensed to teach new formats at Zumba® Convention (ZINCON) and by attending a ZIN Education Specialist (ZES) certification trainings. It’s exciting to acquire new skills and the potential of getting additional classes to teach. I have been certified in Zumba® Gold, Aqua, Toning, Step, and STRONG by Zumba®. I have attempted to teach them all with the exception of Gold, with different degrees of success.

Let’s break it down. Questions to ask yourself when attempting to teach a new format: 
  • How different is the format from what I already teach? 
  • Do I have time to practice and master a whole different format? 
  • Which audience am I going after? 
  • How will I approach the potential employer? 
  • How am I going to market the class?

First, format differences. In my experience, Zumba® and Zumba® Toning are the closest. Teaching these formats together work well for me, as I don’t have much time to practice due to my full-time job and the several classes I already teach. When I subbed Aqua, I quickly realized that teaching in an indoor pool was tough on my eyes – the chlorine irritated them. Perhaps an outdoor pool is better but I haven’t tried it. The Aqua audience was used to a different format, more relaxed and with props. Then I show up with lots of energy and Latin music – quickly realized I needed to adapt. Was I willing to compromise? As a true professional, I did; but I didn’t believe it was the right thing for me.

The different certifications. Step, I took step aerobics classes for over 10 years. Piece of cake, I thought. In reality, the format is very different to regular Zumba® and when you miss a beat really shows. Maybe I wasn’t ready? STRONG by Zumba® (SBZ). I loved the format, still do. I targeted my Zumba® students/friends that wanted to take things to the next level. This is how I sold it to the Group Ex Director; however, after a couple months I realized that the format was a shock to my regular Zumba® peeps – not the right audience.

The sweet spot. Zumba® Toning. Almost like the Goldilocks story. I had my new pitch to the Group Ex Director: “Let’s switch SBZ with Zumba® Toning. It’s a good bridge between Zumba® and Strength, and less of a shock for the Zumba® students.” Sold! I had the vision and the hook. I created a flyer and shazam, got people interested in it. Then, while brainstorming with a good ZIN peer/friend about how to increase interest after a few months teaching it, she suggested I do demos during popular Zumba® classes at the same gym. And so, I went. I got additional interest and word of mouth set in. Then there were more opportunities. While subbing for Body Conditioning, management said, ‘any format’, as it was the third call with no takers. So, I jumped in! I did a Zumba® Toning class with people that had never done Zumba® before. Wow! I started very simple, then based on their response added dance complexity. Of course, I gave them an SBZ Q4 ‘Floorplay’ segment at the end since, after all, it was expected by this type audience. And guess what, I got more Zumba® Toning converts, from a very unexpected group of people.

So, my advice, go ahead and experiment. Maybe trial-and-error is in the cards. This is how we learn what works for us and our potential/students. Don’t be afraid to branch out. Benefit from the many ZIN resources/forums/support groups and get out there to grow as an instructor and grow your business and passion!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Streamline Your Class Preparation and Have More Time for Fun!

When people ask me what I “do” for employment, it is funny because my mind immediately jumps to me being a fitness instructor over my corporate job where I spend most of my time. The simple answer is because fitness is what I love, it is my passion, it is what I want to do full-time. However, that is not in the cards at this time, so part-time fitness instructor it is. But is it really part time? Think about how much time you spend preparing for classes.
  • Scouting music
  • Working on original choreography
  • Learning choreography
  • Practicing
  • Creating set lists
  • Promoting your classes
  • Keeping your social media up-to-date
  • Networking
  • Building relationships 
  • Attending social events
Now imagine all of that work across several platforms, various gyms, different classes. It can really take up a large portion of your day. Here are a few tips to help you manage your preparation time.

Practice: Just as if you have scheduled classes, schedule yourself practice time. Mark it on your calendar and allot that time specifically for learning new choreography and fine-tuning your existing choreography. If you need a little extra motivation, ask some of your peeps to join you! You will find your energy increases AND the creative collaboration makes for some awesome choreography! 

Music: Take advantage of your downtime during the day. Maybe this is in the car on your way to work, or during nap time for your kids. Keep your music source handy and pop in your ear buds throughout the day to scout new music. Whether it is listening to music provided by your fitness genre, or doing a search on Apple Music of Spotify, you can basically hit shuffle, and tune it out until you find that one jam that resonates with you. Take that song and add it to a set list called “Choreography” so you can easily locate it when you are ready to work on it.

Set Lists: Come up with an easy to follow naming convention for your set lists. You can do this by month, genre, gym or date. In doing so, you will have a record on what you did when to ensure you are keeping things fresh for your participants. I work on set lists the day before classes. It takes about 10-15 minutes to rotate songs in and out or start a new set list. You can make it a practice to have a default set list for when you want to defer to the class favorites.

Social Media: There are several tools that are available in the marketplace to help manage your social media channels. In an effort to keep things streamlined and organized, you can create a content calendar at the beginning of each month. From there you can pre-write and post items and schedule them out with a third-party tool. Alternatively, you can set time aside daily to manage your social channels (I would recommend early in the morning to get it out of the way). The most important thing here is to create your point of view so your posts have value and meaning to your audience. If this is not your wheelhouse, don’t worry, for a nominal fee, you can actually hire someone to manage your accounts. 

Networking: This is such a huge part of the fitness industry. It is no doubt that classes are more fun with different styles and personalities, and those differences are what makes the fitness community unique. Make sure to carve out time in your schedule to get to other people in your fitness community. Visit other instructor classes, and when your schedule allows, attend events to see your friends, meet new people and network new business opportunities. 

We all know the TLC that is required for your fitness classes, businesses and brands. We certainly all know how busy and crazy life can be! Hopefully these tidbits will help save a little preparation time so you can truly do what you love most; inspire others through fitness! 

Friday, April 26, 2019

What Are You Passionate About?

What are you passionate about? I was asked that question today and it really made me pause and think.....I honestly couldn’t put my finger on it. And that made me sad. I am an elementary school Reading Specialist by day, and group fitness instructor at night. There are many things I like to do in my spare time; read, listen to music, spend time with my family, watch tv. I love teaching children how to read to see how they light up when they see me, and hug me when I leave brings me joy. I love working with other teachers and sharing my experience and knowledge. But fundamentally I know there has to be something I’m passionate about, something that makes my heart beat, something I can’t live without. 

As I was contemplating this after school, I was also preparing for my BodyPump™ class. Then it hit me!  My passion! It is teaching group fitness classes. I honestly can’t imagine not teaching classes. I love when I can motivate someone to do something they
didn’t think they could do. I feed off the energy in the room and all of the smiling faces looking back at me. Being at the gym makes me feel whole, fulfilled and happy! At 51 I finally found my passion and continue to grow in my craft. I have an opportunity to change people’s lives…..and that’s HUGE! To think that people take time out of their day, precious time, for themselves and come to see ME???  That’s something that I take seriously. I need to make it worthwhile for them. I want to make them feel like they are worthy of taking that time away from all the responsibilities and focus on just them.  To think that I motivate them to come workout, and that I can share my PASSION of fitness with them is the best feeling in the world. 

So, now that I know what I am passionate about, what am I to do with this nugget? I will continue to motivate, inspire and welcome everyone that walks into my class. I want that hour to be the best of their day, the most fun, the most challenging, maybe even the hardest –  definitely the most rewarding.  And I want them to come back. I want them to feel the passion for fitness that I do, to know we are in it together and I am their biggest supporter.  So, if you haven’t found your passion yet – don’t worry!  It took me a while, but I found it – and I won’t let it go!!It is never too late to discover your passion. Changes are right inside of you, it just needs to be discovered, and {You got this}!
Stay Fit, stay healthy, and stay with me! Kia Kaha! Lisa 😊Facebook:www.facebook.com/Fit4U-Lisa-Schwarz
Twitter: Fit4Urocks

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

You Subbed Out Your Class but....

Like many of the families in the area in which we live, we just had "Spring Break" for the kiddos. It is not like the "Spring Break" that comes to mind from your college years, but none-the-less a time to travel with the family (more on that later), and a time where I had to sub out my fitness classes. 

Our very own ZBeat contributor Teryck Coles wrote an excellent article on subbing classes; check it out here. Whether it be for physical reasons, an injury, or just a mental break from your class schedule, subbing out your classes can be beneficial. Subbing out my classes is something that I just experienced while away for Spring Break with the family. The thing is, while I was gone, I missed my classes SO MUCH! I was so very lucky to leave my classes in the hands of talented instructor friends and colleagues which was a huge relief as I knew my classes were in good hands. 

However, while I was gone, these are the things that went through my mind the very first class I “missed” I thought to myself…. 
• Class is starting now 
It feels weird not to be there 
• I wonder if the sub will have a live feed of class
• Let me listen to my set list to get into the groove from a distance
• I should probably use this time to work on new choreography
• No, I am going to use this time to decompress and take that break. Focus! 
• Actually, I am going just listen to this new song for a few minutes 
• Dancing in my mind....
• I am going to jot down some moves 
• Speaking of new choreography, I have to Shazam this song  I hear over the speaker
• I wonder if my peeps will like this song as much as I do!
• I wonder if people are standing in "their spots"
• I hope they are having a great class
• It feels like forever since I have seen everyone
• I miss my class

Oh look at the time! Class is over! 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Zumba® Love Spreading Hope for Mia The Warrior

There are so many things about the Zumba® community that are incredible. For starters, when you take a Zumba® class, you drip sweat while working on your fitness goals. The icing on the cake is the social aspect of classes. It truly is happy hour! It is a time to connect with friends, talk, and of course dance together. The positive emotional aspects of Zumba® classes are undeniable. It literally feels like you are on a Zumba® high following class. 

The power of Zumba® is amazing, and Shirley Sanchez former Zumba® instructor can attest to just that. Shirley has leveraged the power of the Zumba® community to help her 11-year old daughter Mia's fight against Type 1 Diabetes. Recently Mia was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Unwilling to accept standard medical protocol as the solution, Shirley found hope at Sanoviv Medical Institute in Mexico. Mia's journey requires twelve individual trips to Mexico for stem cell treatments to aid in the regeneration of her cells. These treatments are two day trips, literally down to Mexico for treatment and back the next day. Each trip averages over $3,000. As a single mom who juggles multiple jobs including her own business, she knew she had to do whatever it took to treat her daughter Mia, a.k.a Mia the Warrior. 

Shirley reached out to several instructors in the Zumba® community who have organized, promoted and danced their hearts out at events. These events are solely focused on spreading awareness for Type 1 Diabetes, raising money for Mia's journey and coming together to spread love and hope. Shirley has found comfort in the Zumba® community, many of whom has donated their time and money to support Shirley and Mia. Shirley is so grateful. As we talked I could hear the positive vibes in her voice as she told me that sometimes she doesn't even know the people that are coming together to coordinate events in honor of Mia. Shirley spoke about lessons of humility and forgiveness as part of this process.

"When I do an event and people let it flow, I have a feeling of healing all together. Not only the people who give, but those who received the experience; those moments are much more than a Zumba® class".  Shirley is convinced that Mia's journey is healing other people while she is going through her own medical regimen. She notes that Mia is nothing short of STRONG. BRAVE. & CALM. 

Early on Shirley created a Go Fund Me account that raised over $6,000 in less than two days. Through a combination of fundraisers, raffles and Zumba® events, she has continued to work towards her goal and has raised $14,000 to date. That seems like a lot of money (and it is), but with five more trips to go, there are huge expenses in Shirley's future. During our talk while we were discussing donations, I could hear the gratitude in her voice. "No amount is too small. $5 dollars adds up to a meaningful amount". 

If you feel moved, please consider donating to Mia's journey. More information can be found on the Go Fund Me page: gofundme.com/MiaWarrior. If you want to read more about Mia's journey, search: @Miathewarrior on Facebook. Zumba® has been a HUGE part of Mia's healing. Healing is happening through the integrative stem cell treatments, dietary changes, lifestyle changes, and brought together full circle through the Zumba® community, through dance, and through positive vibes.