I sat down on Wednesday night after a super long day at work and wrote this post:
Just me, doing what I do. I’m the sensitive type. I feel everything. And I had really been feeling some type of way. I really thought no one read my blog but my mom. But I soon realized I must have had a lot of moms. Or she was reading from a lot of computers. Well over 16,000. I wanted to be excited that many people were viewing my blog but after reading comment after comment, email after email, Facebook post after Facebook post, I felt a sense of sadness. And then I felt like we had all taken a huge, collective exhale. I’m going to go ahead and say several of us Zumba instructors got “set free” by that post. Because here’s what I heard…….
Do you know what it’s like to present the best of you, your very soul to people you truly care about to have them say, “It isn’t good enough! I want more!” That’s what I heard instructors world wide say back to me. Frustrated, tired and being beat up for wanting to follow the rules. Uninspired, unmotivated and feeling unappreciated for working so hard to bring something new to the table. Feeling clueless as how to get the love back into what they love. Feeling hopeless, believing the thrill is gone and they’ll never teach again. Feeling depressed about being torn between what they love and the demands of the people they serve. And REALLY pissed off because people are getting away with using the Zumba name to draw the crowds while doing everything BUT Zumba.
But I also heard people thanking me for speaking up. People saying they were feeling ready to give it another go. Instructors encouraging other instructors, hi-fiving and virtual chest bumping to say keep up the good work. People saying, “You’re not alone. I struggle too but we can do it.” People saying, “We can bring it back to what it used to be!” People saying, “Keep up with the times but do what you do. Be you and your tribe will appear!’
I also heard, “We don’t really care about the history of Zumba. We just want to have fun.”
And, for me, that’s when the problem started.
See, the history of Zumba is super important or at least this one little detail. Zumba EXISTS because an instructor cared enough to not walk out when he could have and shared his heart with his class. See, Beto (the creator of Zumba) went to teach his aerobics class and forgot his music. That is a NIGHTMARE (instructors, holla if you hear me!) when you have a class planned. Instead of backing out or teaching a class in which he would have been uninspired, he went to his car and got out his own music supply and rolled with it. The history of Zumba is the story of 98% of the instructors who wrote back to me. We care enough to do whatever it takes to make it work. We teach from the heart. We go beyond what is asked for us and because we love it not because of the money (because, honestly, I don’t know anybody who became a millionaire merely teaching Zumba in a local gym). But it’s hard when you feel like people think you are a machine. We’re not. This is why people get burned out. This is why people quit. Students are angry when their favorite instructor no longer work at the gym (and several of my students almost had heart attacks because they thought I had quit) but nobody is doing work on the REAL issue….
When we are burned on being the motivators because we are constantly being burned, who is motivating us?
This conversation is so important because I think a lot of people don’t realize that fitness instructors really don’t have super powers. 🙂 Forget what you saw on Instagram and Twitter. We have bad days. We have days when we are uninspired. When we are discouraged from following our heart and soul by the people we serve it is a SERIOUS blow. Some of us never recover.
Let me say for the record (since so much got lost in the translation of my blog) that I love change. I love that the faces of my classes are changing and the times are changing. I’ve done everything in my class from a Teena Marie tribute, an all Power to Women remix (does anybody remember “Wonder Woman?) to Soul Train lines, bachata and salsa demos, group hugs, birthday circles, Michael Jackson mega mixes, a Whitney Houston tribute that had us all in tears to an entire Beyonce Super Bowl performance. But I will do what I was taught until I don’t want to do it anymore. I’m not moved my pressure because I’m not concerned about “numbers.” I’m concerned about community and experiences. And if I ended up teaching Zumba to five people in my yard because they ended up being my crew and we were sweating and having a good time, I’d be cool with that. Numbers don’t define how great you are. Who did you touch? And how did you feel when you were doing it?
Be encouraged, fellow instructors. Do what keeps you inspired. You will inspire more people that way. Trust me. By speaking from the heart, thousands of us are now connected.
Zumba students, find who inspires you. Everyone is different and you will not be able to mold someone into your specific needs. Zumba teachers are plentiful. Go to where you feel motivated and don’t feel guilt about it.
What I heard is we all want to dance.
Let’s just do that. 🙂