Thursday, January 31, 2019

ZCOM™️ Community Projects: What are They?

By Zumba™ Fitness Instructor: Megan Hernandez, ZCOM™️ and ZIN™️ District 49.

Nina Gonzales ZCOM™, RIGHT. Alan Gomez ZCOM
District 2 Australia
One of the wonderful things that your ZCOM™️ are responsible for each year is hosting two Community Projects each term.  A common misconception is that the ZCOM™️ are the ones hosting, collecting etc for the District Project. The purpose of the Community Projects are to unite the Zumba®️ Community in each district to come together for a common cause in support of their community and for the ZIN™️ to host, promote, and collect.  The ZCOM™️ in most districts will and do help with messaging that is consistent for the entire district to use for promotion.  These projects are chosen based on district ZIN™️’s input on their community needs.  To start this process, usually the District ZCOM™️ will get together and discuss several ideas that would benefit the community as a whole.  They then put those ideas out to the ZIN™️ in the district and have them choose which project they would like to focus on.  This could be as simple as a district collecting non-monetary donations for a singular charity, or could be collecting non-monetary donations for several different charities depending on the needs of a specific region of the district.  With the finish of the holiday season, we would like to share with you one such District Project from District 2, Australia!

Tammy Bowman ZCOM™ and Stephanie
Wiggins ZIN™, from Hobart, Tasmania
District 2 has a newly formed ZCOM™️ team.  Prior the ZCOM™️ in New Zealand were responsible for both their District 1 and also Australia’s District 2.  This year District 2 has 4 ZCOM™️ reps and they have completed their very first District wide community project.  Their reps are Annette James from Adelaide, South Australia, Alan Gomez and Nina Gonzales-Zaldiva from Melbourne, Victoria, and Tammy Bowman from Hobart, Tasmania. Their Cans For Christmas event dreamed up by ZIN™️ Stephanie Wiggins was widely accepted across the district and was carried out with huge success.  Each ZCOM™️ team in the district advertised together their separate events that ran 90 minutes and brought together ZIN™️ members and participants for a common cause to each of their locations.  All in all they had a highly successful event that benefited the Salvation Army in Australia’s 3 represented states.  Way to go on your first District Project completion!

Most, if not all 49 districts, have completed the first Community Project for the term. Keep a look out for the second one and also the Meet and Greets that each District hosts each year.  Your District ZCOM™️ will be posting more details for all of these on your District ZCOM™️ page on Facebook.   You and your fellow ZIN™️ can make a huge difference in your community!

Monday, January 28, 2019

The New Year Rush of "Getting Back on Track" has Passed, now What?

By:Zumba™ Fitness Instructor Megan Anastasio

Who can believe that it is already the LAST week of January? If you are crushing your fitness goals and sticking with your healthy lifestyle, KUDOS to you! If you are overall doing well, sticking to your plan, feeling good, but have had a few hiccups, KUDOS to you! If you find that you want to be on track but are struggling, you can do it, KUDOS to you. Take this opportunity to celebrate your successes, and plan for your future. I don't mean a month from now, I don't even mean next week. I mean think about what you want to accomplish today and this week and plan out your fitness schedule. We sat down and talked to Group Fitness Instructor Megan Anastasio, and she shared with us her Top 10 Tips for sticking with your fitness goals and plans.

1. Always have a schedule. We have heard it before. Failing to plan, is planning to fail. At the beginning of the week, take a look at your work schedule, your gym schedule and your kid and schedule and figure out when you want to exercise. Write it down in your agenda and actually block off your time.

2. Find a friend to workout with. Securing a workout buddy helps with accountability and motivation. I guarantee if you make plans to meet someone at the gym you will think twice before canceling. Besides, you know it will be fun AND you will feel amazing when you are done your workout. 

3. Push yourself even when you think you can’t do something. This is SO important! You ARE stronger than you think. Take the negativity out of your mindset. Instead of thinking "I can't, I can't do this", think to yourself, "I can do this, I can do this". Try it once and see if you can get just one more rep in. Before you know it that one more rep will turn into two, and your progress will start showing in your workouts.

4. Set goals for you to reach for each type of exercise. It is not only important to plan to get to the gym, but it is important to plan out what you are going to do when you get there. If you are headed to a cycle class, make sure you have your cycle shoes and seat cover. If you are going to weight train, think about what muscles you want to hit during your workout and either do your homework before you go for examples of muscle group activities, or ask someone at the gym to point out which machines to use if you are ever unsure. Going to a cardio group fitness class? Bring a towel and always make sure you have water.

5. Make sure to hydrate and rest when needed. If you are feeling tired, sick or under the weather, STAY home! Your body is telling you that you need to rest, and I promise that nobody at the gym wants your germs :P. I know you have heard it before, but drink, drink, drink water. It is so important to keep your body well hydrated.

6. Have confidence in yourself. If you only remember ONE of these helpful tips, put this one in your back pocket. You are your biggest critic. Push past any negative thoughts you may have. YOU GOT THIS!

7. Fuel your body. Make sure to fuel your body with lots of protein and veggies after a great workout.  

8. Its not just about working out - it’s also about what you put in your body with what you eat. It is hard to get home starving and not devour everything in the fridge. On your way home, grab a protein bar and water to hold you over. Pre-plan your meal if you need to. Exercising does not give a green light to eat an entire cake.

9. Motivate others at the gym when they look like they are doubting themselves. Considering giving someone an authentic compliment. Considering smiling at someone. Consider asking someone if they need a hand. You have NO idea how much impact such a small gesture can mean to someone else. It can literally make their day and help them get over a hurdle.

10. Turn up the tunes. Great music can motivate you, keep you pumped up, and it will surely keep your workout going. Time will FLY by and before you know it, you will be done! 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Creating Choreography for Your Zumba™Classes: Tips and Tricks for Both New and Veteran Instructors

Written by: Zumba™ Fitness Instructor Claudia Buckler

Teaching Zumba™ sounds very exciting and fun!  (And from experience I can say that it is). However, what most people don't realize is that it is a lot of work! And when I say a lot, I mean a lot! When you take into consideration training, learning choreography, creating your own choreography, preparing set lists for classes, actually teaching and doing it all over again for your next class, it can become a little overwhelming. 

For some instructors choreographing a song can be very easy, but sometimes for new instructors it can be more difficult and complicated.  Zumba™ is much different than other fitness categories.  Zumba is rooted in the music itself. As instructors, we have the choice to follow choreography Zumba Home Office provides us, or we have liberty to create our own. If instructors create their own, they typically don’t follow one unique format.  They create their own routines and playlists with eclectic music and rhythms that we hope you like.  It really gives us as instructors many advantages in that if something isn’t working, we can change it.  If you forgot one step while you are teaching (this never happens, right?!), it can be easily covered up (just keep moving and smile).  One of the advantages of Zumba is you get to be creative and build a class based on your own strengths.  Given that, here are some of my recommendations when you are creating your own choreography. 

You will enjoy your class more, and your students will definitely enjoy your class more if you choose songs you like!  Your joy will come shining through. Select the rhythms you would like to include in your playlist.  Once you know the rhythms you can select specific songs that highlight those types of beats.  There are so many great songs to choose from that this is usually the easiest part of choreography (or maybe it’s the hardest since there are SO many!). Keep in mind the overall structure of a class when you are selecting your songs.  Remember that we need to include the warm-up, cool-down, and stretch segments during the class.  You will elevate heart rate during the class to give the students a great workout.  This means you will need a variety of music tempos.

Teaching Zumba does not require a strong knowledge of music.  However, it is important that you know about rhythms.  You must know how to find the downbeat and phrases within the music.  Sometimes this comes naturally, but for some instructors it is something you need to learn.  There are a lot of good Zumba™ resources out there that help explain Salsa, Merengue, Cumbia, and other rhythms.  Study and learn these styles, then match songs that fit the genre. Once you understand the different rhythms and styles, it is important you actually do the associated steps.  Your class will learn the choreography with more ease if you stay within the styles.  In other words, if you are preparing a salsa song, fill it with salsa steps.  You can add in some classic Zumba moves, or create your own, but make sure the integrity of the song remains.

As soon as your pick your songs and corresponding rhythms, practice, practice, practice!  You have to know your music perfectly, inside and out.  This is critical so you can do the transitions naturally and queue the next steps in perfect rhythm.  I like to listen to my music over and over until I know the song perfectly.  This gives me confidence in front of the room.  The students can feel that, and they appreciate the time and energy I have put into my preparation.  Everyone makes mistakes, but you should not make mistakes because you didn’t prepare the songs well enough.

Don’t try to decorate or complicate every single beat of the music.  Try to make the choreography simple and enjoyable for the students.  This simplicity gives them the chance to learn the steps and just dance along.  Remember – this is not about you.  This is not a performance.  You don’t have to be a superstar on the stage.  You simply need people to feel comfortable with the moves and then they will enjoy the music. Always consider the technical capabilities of your class.  Sometimes a move can be very easy for you but not for them.  Try to think about the students when you are putting together your choreography.  Will they be able to do a move?  Are the moves too feminine?  You want to present choreography that are appropriate for both men and women.  Also, resist the temptation to change your playlist too often.  People like repetition – it allows them to be free and have more fun with their Zumba class.

As a new instructor, we like to go to different classes with different instructors to try to learn new styles and techniques.  But please take note – “learning” is totally different than “copying”.  It is ok to get tips from an instructor (or Zumba™ DVD), but everyone has to develop their own personalityThis is what Zumba is about – variety!  Some instructors have the craziness, sometimes called the “Z-factor”, while some other instructors are a little more reserved.  Every approach is OK, but just be yourself.  Do not try to be fake.  People will notice.

Try to be early for your scheduled class.  This will give you some time to get settled in and make sure everything is ready for your students.  Have your playlist ready, and bring an extra device just in case the one you have doesn’t work.  Learn how to use the equipment in the studio.  It sounds simple but every gym is different, so if you don’t know how to use the stereo, for instance, ask the prior instructor to show you.  Then you can relax and be ready to welcome your students.  You’d be surprised how important it is for the students to see you there ready to go.  It shows you care about the class as much as they do!

This might be the most important aspect of being an effective Zumba instructor.  Always teach your class with maximum energy!  Remember, the students are always trying to copy you, so if your energy is low they will feel it and it will drag them down.  Try your best to give 200% energy when you are teaching!  Not all the students will be able to match you, but all will appreciate your efforts.  The only way you can bring that energy to the class is to feel prepared, and I hope the tips I’ve shared with you will be helpful in that area!

The Zumba community affords you many educational opportunities.  Start participating in jam sessions.  Get new certifications (like Zumba Gold, Strong by Zumbaetc.).  Attend the yearly convention in Orlando – it is a LOT of fun!!  All of these avenues will expand your teaching abilities and help you create fun, interesting, and exciting choreography!

I hope these tips were helpful. 
Good luck!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

I Love Push-Ups! ~Said No One EVER (Except Me!) with Group Fitness Instructor Lisa Schwarz

Lol! It’s true, if you know me, you know I love push-ups – and I always have! Why? It’s one of the best total body exercises out there! The #1 question I get asked at the gym is, "How do I get better at doing push-ups?" Know how you get better at push-ups? By doing them! But don’t despair, if you’re not able to get on your toes to do them – that’s OK! If you can only do a couple  – that’s OK! You gotta start somewhere. And here are a few helpful hints....

Just read this study from Dr. Jinger Gottschall about the benefits of push-ups, and how you can get from your knees to your toes in no time! A new study published in the Journal of Applied Biomechanics explains that both the toe and knee variations of the push-up are worthwhile. The findings are very encouraging, explains Jinger Gottschall, Associate Professor at Penn State University. “We were able to demonstrate that the overall ratio of muscle activation in the upper body when you do a push-up on your knees or toes is actually the same. It shows that knee push-ups are a surprisingly valuable alternative if you cannot perform a push-up on your toes with proper technique.” 

What makes push-ups so good? Push-ups are much more than just an upper body exercise. 
  • They work the pecs, deltoids and triceps while strengthening the muscles of the core. 
  • On top of improved upper body definition push-ups build muscular endurance and create lean muscle mass that improves overall fitness and good health. 
  • When compared to the bench press, another popular chest exercise, push-ups provide more effective functional training. 
The Penn State University study participants generated 50 percent more activation in the abdominals during push-ups compared to bench press repetitions with parallel weight. The best push-up technique There’s no dispute that the most effective push-ups are push-ups on your toes, as they engage a greater amount of activation in the muscles of the upper body and core – demanding whole body integration. 

However, push-ups on your toes can be pretty challenging and many people, especially older adults or individuals new to exercise, cannot safely complete multiple push-ups on their toes. All too often the hips and neck are not aligned properly and consequently the risk of injury outweighs the rewards. “When people are struggling to lower themselves towards the ground in a toe push-up position, they shouldn’t give up or feel discouraged, says Gottschall. “We can now be confident that push-ups on your knees are an effective modification.” 

How to progress from knee push-ups to toe push-ups The good news is that if you do enough push-ups on your knees you’ll be up on your toes in no time. Bryce Hastings, Les Mills’ Head of Research and Technical Advisor agrees with Gottschall’s advice, saying once you are confident doing 16 push-ups on the knees, then you are ready to try push-ups on your toes. 

Stay Fit, stay healthy, and stay with me! Kia Kaha! Lisa 😊

Twitter: Fit4Urocks

Photo Source:

Monday, January 14, 2019

Realizing Your Goals in 2019 with Zumba™ Fitness Instructor Teryck Coles

We’ve finally made it! A new year is upon us and many of us are ready to start things anew. Whether you create resolutions, goals, or a vision board for the new year, one thing is certain: we need to CLEARLY REALIZE those dreams. Let’s unpack what that means. So many of us (yes, I’m speaking to you too) merely THINK about what we want. We create a list of things we want to accomplish in our mind, then quickly forget them within the first week of the new year as we return to a sense of normalcy after the festivity of the holidays. When we do this, our thoughts transition into wasted ideas and never come to fruition. 

So, what's next? Some of us take things a little further and take the time to write our goals out on paper. This is a GREAT step in actualizing goals! When we write things down—particularly by hand—we connect with the goal in a much stronger manner.  We’re thinking it, we’re writing it, we’re seeing it: the desire to commit to the goal is created here. However....
  • How many of us find that we tuck that piece of paper away somewhere? 
  • How many of us close the notebook and set it aside? How many of us find that we transition at this point back to
    our former selves and continue with old routines? 
So, now what? 
  • How do we vision forward to realize and actualize our goals? 
Well, we start with all of the former steps of thinking them out, writing them out, and reading/speaking them out loud. The next best step is to place your goals in a place where you will see them EVERY day; when we see something daily, we have a greater likelihood of achieving those goals. It’s always a great idea to write goals out in present tense. Rather than writing, “I will” or “I want to”, we can write “I am”—this creates within us the feeling of actively completing goals. 

Also, we should rid ourselves of the “go with the flow” mentality. I’ve heard many people (including myself) say to others, “Oh! I’m just going to go with the flow this year”. This can cause us to sabotage our own goals. What do I mean? “Going with the flow” means we’re taking whatever opportunities come our way—even opportunities that do not support or align with our own vision. These random opportunities can easily cause us to stray from our path. 

Think of it this way: Scent hounds have a very specific job—to pursue scents. When released in a field to trail a scent, they feverishly work to track down the source of the scent. They are not deterred by anything else. Now, if they are NOT given a specific scent to follow and placed in the SAME field, what do you think they’ll do? Well, they’re dogs; they’ll run all over the place! 

So, in preparing for a new year and manifesting our vision for ourselves, we are going to: 
  • THINK about them; 
  • WRITE about them; 
  • SPEAK them out loud; 
  • POST them in an accessible space, and;
  • SEIZE/CREATE opportunities that align with and support our goals. 
Following these steps are a clear way of setting ourselves up for success in the coming year and actualizing our visions into reality. YOU CAN DO IT!

Find Tee Online!
Move with Tee, LLC
Instagram: movewithteellc
Photo Source: The Wise Family

Friday, January 11, 2019

Taking #SELFIES and #GROUPIES Like a Pro to Promote Your Zumba® Fitness Classes
Written by: Zumba® Fitness Instructor Lizz Larrauri 

Have you ever noticed that Zumba® instructors love taking pictures? The trend of taking selfies before class even starts and group pictures after class is not my original idea, but it is something that I love to do! ZINs® have been capturing the happiness and love Zumba® fitness exudes for years to
promote themselves and their classes. We love taking pictures at events, with other instructors and with our students. Let me tell you how it started for me....

If you saw my Facebook page, you wouldn't believe me, but I historically wasn’t the type of person who used to take pictures of myself all the time (I am serious)!! Once in a while I would take a selfie to update my Facebook profile, and I loved taking pictures of my kids and objects. I still love it but now I take more Zumba® pics than anything.  

When I started my Zumba® Career five years ago (believe it or not, five years is considered a long time in the Zumba® world), I wanted to promote my classes.  I did not know where to start or what to do. So as many instructors do, I started using memes I found on Google. In a short period of time I ran out of Zumba® memes.

One day, I took a selfie in my car and used it to make a post promoting my class.  I saw it worked! People were engaged and starting interacting with my posts. In my opinion the best way to let the world know about your classes are through pictures because they can see an image of who you are and feel motivated to come to your class.  Videos work great too, but we will talk about that in another occasion. After a couple weeks, I noticed my participants wanted to be included in my pictures.  To them it was a fun way to show that they had fun at the gym.  Some of them like their friends and family to see that they go to Zumba®

Suddenly, my students also started taking pics after class and posting on Facebook. Notice: I am not saying, this is something that only happens at my class.  In today’s culture, people love taking pictures and documenting everything they do.  We are living in an era where social media takes part of our lives.  There is nothing wrong with that.

Here are a Few Tips to Taking Selfies & Groupies Like a Pro:

1.If you don’t have a long arm, get a selfie stick.  They are very affordable and convenient.
2. Take your selfies from the top, not directly to your face or from the bottom.  That way you will look slimmer and and avoid the picture depicting a double chin from looking down.
3. Hug, hug, hug! To get a slimmer waist hug the person beside you. Besides, we want to share the Zumba® love!
4. Don’t be so serious! By this I mean, once in a while you can take some crazy pics with your students by making silly faces and poses.
5. Use filters moderately.  We all know that there are hundreds of apps to fix your pictures but please don’t put make up on your pics, exaggeratedly erase wrinkles or lines, make eyes super big (cartoon eyes), make yourself taller, etc. I use an application called Beauty Plus and I only use it up to level 5 to make sure pics still look natural.  Sometimes I don’t edit my pics at all and just use natural light and then on Instagram set my pictures filter to Juno or Clarendon.
Lastly and perhaps the most important tip! Don’t be afraid of taking pictures after sweating. I love showing that sexy Zumba® Glow after class ends.  It shows you had a great workout.  Everyone looks happy and distressed.  Just fix your hair to the side or put your hat on and SAY CHEESE 🧀!

Find Lizz on Facebook!

Connect with Lizz on Instagram