Tonight is my last Zumba class at the University Fitness Center before surgery Friday. (My last class on the Arsenal is Wednesday.) Ironically, today marks seven years that four of us from the gym drove down to Georgia and got certified to teach Zumba.
I didn’t know what I was getting into or what I was doing.
I had never even taken a Zumba class. After I signed up for the training, I ran all over town trying to locate a DVD to “practice” so I wouldn’t look like an idiot in front of the group fitness director who was going as well. She only knew me as a yoga instructor. I sucked at it. One of my girlfriends assured me this was the next big thing where she lived. I submitted myself to the embarrassment anyway.
I’m glad I did.
The past seven years have been a whirlwind experience. I cannot even begin to describe how Zumba has been my joy, thorn in my side, drug of choice, nemesis and gateway to relationships and destruction. I could give five, ten, one hundred stories about how close I was to walking away from it. Through the pain, injuries, criticism, exhaustion, creative blackouts and just lack of motivation, I have managed to stick around and a few folks keep showing up to jam with me. 🙂
Zumba has changed so much over the years. I have seen LOTS of teachers come and go. Here are five pointers I have found helpful to keep me in the Zumba game:
- Stick to the 70/30 formula. I am surprised at students who visit my class and make comments about the Latin music I play; both positive and negative. Zumba is 70% Latin and international rhythms and 30% whatever you like. Now I am a Michael Jackson fanatic but if I wanted to do a class JUST on MJ, I wouldn’t call it Zumba. Or just hip hop. Or country line dances.
- Don’t introduce new choreography every class. Or every two classes. Maybe not every four. Instructors get bored before students do. And your regulars want harder new stuff. They have the benefit of not having to take newcomers into consideration. Give people time to learn and achieve some type of mastery so they feel successful. Changing too often can make them feel like they never “get it.”
- I know I will be shot by all of the authentic Zumba people for even suggesting this 🙂 but for me this works. I CUE. I have been doing this since the day I started before it was so heavily emphasized NOT to cue. I like to interact with my folks and I am random (we make circles, play hand games, do the bump and everything else in there) so using a mic, as well as learning not to talk TOO much and pointing and directing as well has been helpful. It has been useful to people the back who can’t see me.
- I practice before EVERY class. As I am putting my playlist together, I listen to my songs and go over my moves EVEN IF I have been doing the track for five years. I sometimes hear the music differently or feel a move differently. It can change the feel and the mood of the track and class. Annndddd, I’m no longer 31. I’m 38. And I have had three surgeries (not including this one). My body feels differently. I’ve learned new things that make me not want to do a move a certain way anymore. And my memory isn’t as good as it used to be. Practice. Practice. Practice.
- I ALWAYS, whether I am teaching five people or one hundred fifty people, make the class about THEM, never me. I try to face my class as much as possible. I will go and stand with new people. I will do a modified version to encourage those who are injured. I will run through the crowd to keep them hyped up instead up “insisting” on my own workout. I’m not there to work out. I’m there to teach. I am there to serve not be seen.
I love what I do.I love interacting with people. I love to dance. I love music. I cannot see myself teaching Zumba at seventy (hoping to be retired in Miami long before then) but I am going to go until I can’t. :). If you’ve ever taken one of my classes, danced salsa, merengue, cha cha or bachata with me, given me advice on being a better dancer, instructor or leader, been in a dance class with me, rode in the car with me and didn’t complain while I blasted Daddy Yankee, taught a class with me, made music mixes for me or sent music to me, sent people to my classes (Zumba isn’t for everybody) or just cheered me on, thank you. This seven years is OUR victory.
Do you take Zumba classes? How long have you been taking them? What do you like most about them?
See you tonight!