Bam! I DID it! I took a big giant leap off the ledge and went WAAAAAAAY outside of my comfort zone. This last Sunday while everyone was watching the Super Bowl, I earned my Zumba Fitness Instructor’s License. That’s right. I can now count myself among a group of folks that I would probably have not even looked in the eye a year ago for fear that they would be able to sense the McDonald’s Value Meal #1 I had just inhaled a moment ago. I figured they could sense the guilt!
My day was a fun-filled one, and prior to attending, I spent time combing the interwebz for blog posts that could help me understand what to expect. It was very helpful for me! So here is my experience with the training, for what it’s worth. Maybe it will help shed some light on the day for someone else in the future that is thinking of becoming an instructor.
I registered for the class 3 weeks ago, and I got in at the lowest price – $225 As the date gets closer, the price goes up. And yes, they almost always sell out. My class was packed to the brim and there was no way to accommodate those that called and tried to find a last minute space. So it’s a good idea to register early!
My class was in Auburn, WA which is about an hour and a half from where I live. I’ve lived in the area and knew where I was going, so no biggie. The night before, I packed my bag. I had read and heard so many conflicting stories about how the day would go. Everything from how it was super easy to how it was just horrible and difficult. Yikes! Which was I in for? When trying to plan what to pack to eat, I figured I’d better be prepared just in case. If it was going to be intense, then I knew I would need fuel. (I could tell the story about trying to do a Zumba class while being on a juice fast, but you might think less of me after that. ;-) Zumba requires a LOT of energy and I didn’t want to run out and be miserable.
I settled on a salad left over from the day before, half a turkey sandwich, greek yogurt, a banana, two protein bars, and a bottle with some chocolate protein powder in it just in case. I think it ended up being just the right amount for the day, if you include eating after the class is over. ( I swear I didn’t hit the McDonald’s drive through for a cheeseburger on my home. I would NEVER do such a thing! Well…almost never…)
I don’t think I slept more than 20 minutes the night before. I was so excited and nervous. My alarm was set for 5:00 am, but I got up and turned it off at 4:58. I was just lying there watching it tick away. I ended up getting to the Tahoma Athletic Club about 30 minutes before check-in started, but better than being late. I gave them my name, and they gave me my training materials.
I spent the next hour milling around, slowly breaking the ice with some wonderful ladies around me. At first I felt like everyone knew each other or already had friends there, and I was a bit intimidated. But that was the OLD me and I had to tell her to STFU. These women were all passionate about the same thing as me, so how could we not get along? I took that first step and opened my mouth, and am thankful for the friends I made because of it.
All of our training materials got left outside in the hallway. The first hour once the training kicks off is a masterclass (fancy way of saying an hour of Zumba) with our instructor – the one and only Madalene Aponte. I wasn’t sure how long we would be dancing for, and had heard rumors of it being about 3 hours. Thankfully, it was just the one. We had a great time! In a room that is supposed to fit 28 people, we had at least 50. It was so packed I couldn’t fully extend my arms. But the energy was high and the vibe in the room was so much fun! 20 minutes into the class I glanced at the clock. 50 minutes had gone by! Before I knew it, that hour was done, and in it’s wake was a group of sweaty smiling people. I found the masterclass to be moderate in intensity, with me feeling like I was about a 6-7 on the perceived exertion chart. I am usually a 7-8 when working with some of the instructors at my YMCA, so it wasn’t bad at all. What a relief! Of course, this is totally objective – if you are used to a lower intensity class, then the masterclass might be challenging. And it will certainly be hard if you’ve never done an hour of Zumba Fitness before! I was so worried that I was going to be the large girl passed out on the floor. Glad I dodged that bullet!
After that, we had a quick break to change our clothes and then we settled into about 2.5 hours of a Power Point presentation mixed up with a bit of dancing here and there. I learned so much! I could go on and on about it, but I think what sticks with me most is the connection that I know have to the music. I love Zumba Fitness, but I have never been a big fan of Latin music. I am the one that lives for the 30% “other” songs. But as I began to understand where the music comes from and the connection that the people in those areas have to those rhythms, I started to “get” it. What a surprise! Now I’m thinking I might have to plan a vacation to a Latin America country so I can sample the culture in person!
We talked about the process of creating choreography for a song, and this was the best part of the day right here. We broke into four groups and each group got a piece of the song “Fuego” by the Cumbia Kings. My group got the chorus. (Hurray!) Then we created choreography as a group for our section. When it was done, it felt like a giant dance battle as each group would pop up from the floor to dance to their parts of the song while the other groups clapped and hooted for them. I wish I could package that energy and take it with me everywhere I went!
After that, we broke for lunch. I spent it mostly on my own. A little quiet time is always good for ya! And of course I shopped a little. Thankfully, I’m still a little too big for the official Zumba shirts. I can get them on, but they aren’t the most flattering. However, I did score a pair of Zumba leggings that I’m absolutely in love with and are a perfect fit. Now I’m going to have to order the other colors!
When lunch was over, we started going through the steps and variations for the four basic rhythms: Merengue, Salsa, Cumbia, and Reggaeton. Here I was able to go even deeper into the origins and meanings behind these steps. For example, Cumbia (one of my favorite rhythms because of it’s sexy darker flavor) moves mostly one foot at a time. A foot is usually frozen in place or “dragged”. This is because it has it’s origins in slavery and the dancers had a foot chained. And yet they still danced! It was very rewarding for me to be able to connect with the music in this way.
After a little more presentation style book work, we danced to a song from each rhythm and then we were done! It was time to get our certificates, take pictures and exchange info with our new friends.
It truly was a wonderful experience – not even close to being as hard as I had feared it might be. And it was so rewarding and affirming for me to realize that even though I was one of the biggest girls there, I was by no means one of the slowest or least capable. In fact, I can shake it with the skinny girls any day! And dare them to keep up with me… ;-)
Love you all for your support! It means the world to me!!