Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Zumba Bracelets

There's a secret tradition that only those of us who are licensed Zumba instructors are let in on.  Something to make us feel connected with each other.  Something that helps build the sense of community between instructors (as opposed to competition) that we're so proud of.

However, I ♥ my dancers, and I think it's such a cool tradition that I want to include you.  I don't think that I have such a large network (yet) that it will get back to many others that I squealed, so feel free to take part in the tradition.  After all, Zumba is one big community, and instructors are just dancers in the front, front row.

The tradition is simply that you don't buy Zumba bracelets for yourself.  Specifically, those rubbery ones.  Nobody is going to judge you or say anything or even look down on you if you do.  It's totally cool to be enthusiastic.  The tradition is just that you buy and pass out bracelets to other people.  I actually always assume that if you have a bunch of bracelets, it's because you've collected them from other people.  This isn't the case for any other Zumba swag, but feel free to turn it into your own thing among friends with earrings or toning sticks or whatever, if you want.


The other half of the tradition is not to expect anything in return.  Maybe you'll get a bracelet back at some point in the future, but that's not really the point.  It's Zumba's secret random act of kindness.


No matter what Zumba outfit I'm wearing, have you ever noticed what is always on my right wrist?  You guessed it.  My bright yellow 'WILD FOR ZUMBA' bracelet.  (Always might be too strong.  Humans forget sometimes. ;)  If you look at my Becoming ZUMBA Facebook page profile picture, you'll see it on my right wrist.  The profile pic comes from the full picture below.  I was given my first bracelet (this same yellow bracelet) at this event, by a beautiful instructor that teaches in Tahoe City, CA.  (She's in the blue genie-ish outfit beside me.)

From the Truckee, CA, Independence Day Parade, 2011.
All this being said, I've ordered some bracelets.  Not a ton.  They're coming straight out of my (shallow) pocket, so don't assume that they're paid for by any of the studios I'm teaching at.  These are from me to you.  If you are around about a minute before class once they come in, you'll likely get one.  If you're rocking it out in class, or if you're responding to my questions/jokes, or if you bring someone new to Zumba, you may get one, also.  There aren't any rules, other than you shouldn't expect to get one, nor should you expect to have much choice in the color or style you get.  Remember what the point of them are.  You're joining in on a secret tradition that has been going on since 2001 when Zumba was created.

If you don't want it or don't like it, pass it on.  That's the point.  Spread the gospel of Zumba.  And at some point in the future, when you're feeling particularly inspired or rich, feel free to buy your own collection and pass the tradition along.  I'm really excited to do this.  I'm such a geek.

Happy Dancing,
~RoB

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Class Music

Anyone who has ever taken any type of cardio/fitness/dancing class knows that the music can make or break the class.  I try to keep that in mind in choosing the songs that I use and choreograph.  I'm really hard to motivate to work out.  So, if it doesn't move me, I know it's not going to do much for my dancers.  I also know that I have a very unique taste in music (hello, Showtunes) so I try to keep that as under control as possible.

My advice for picking music?  Variety is the spice of life.  Try to add at least one thing that is unique to you.  This is a great chance to pull in your background and put your stamp on something that is truly you.  Try to add at least one song that's on the radio right now.  When your dancers are in the car, and it comes on, they'll think of you.  Much like a craving for your favorite food, your dancers will be excited to come back and dance to that song.

After your first month of teaching, try adding at least 1 new song each week.  If you've been teaching for a while, feel free to pull from old choreography.  Dancers that have been with you for a long time love when you pull out an old favorite.

Some things unique to the way I run the music in my classes (not recommendations, just things I do):

♫ Music. Never. Stops.  I think this is the Zumba method that they teach you when you go to the Instructor Training.  However, I've rarely seen it done out in the real world.  Once I start my iPod/CD, I walk away from it until the class is over.  I already have it formulated for alternating high and low intensities, and it makes sure to evenly distribute songs with the same style.

♫ Similarly, I don't include water breaks.  I beg my dancers to get water whenever they need.  Water is extremely important.  I just think that my choreography is repetitive enough (without being boring) that you can step out for a minute, throw back some cold water, and hop back in without feeling like you've missed anything.

♫ No two classes have the exact same song list or lineup.  I teach 3-5 classes a week.  I rearrange my playlist the night before every class.  Adding and subtracting songs based on my dancers, and what I'm feeling at the time.  On Thursday evenings, I teach two classes back-to-back at the same studio.  I've never had a dancer stay for both classes, but I still have different lists.  It keeps it refreshing.

Finally, keep your game face on when you make a mistake.  Nobody memorizes all of their music.  It changes too often.  I even change some choreography for my songs between classes, if I find myself particularly inspired by a section of the song.  You're going to make mistakes.  The big thing is to not let it show.

People who are good with music, or that know your routines, will know.  That's cool.  It's not like they're going to laugh out loud and point at you.  That's not a large fraction of your class, anyway.  If you can keep a cool face, continue with whatever dance move you mistakenly made, and fashion the rest of your song to make it work, then most people won't notice.  However, if you say "Oh, crap" and start doing something else, people start to keep a mental tally. Do that 3-4 times in an hour, and someone will walk outside and make some comment about how you don't even know your music.

I'm no expert.  I haven't even been teaching Zumba for long.  These are just things that I've recognized from years of going to many different Zumba instructors in different locations, along with my background in salsa and ballroom and dance classes in general.

Happy Dancing,
~RoB

Monday, November 14, 2011

Breaking Even

Money was never really a part of my decision for BecomingZUMBA.  My health was.  I figured that since I had very little motivation to go to the gym ever, and the costs of drop-in Zumba classes in Los Angeles and San Francisco were breaking my bank, it would be nice to be paid to work out.  A wonderful, temporary instructor at Flying Yoga Shala in Oakland, CA, told me that if she had her own studio she would hire me.  (She ended up starting her own studio and becoming the group exercise manager for a fancy sports club throughout the Bay Area.)  If you've read my blog from the beginning, you know how apprehensive I was about becoming an instructor.  I didn't think people would want to take classes from a fat guy.  It wasn't great "this is what you'll look like" advertising.

All that being said, last week I made enough money to break even.  From now on, every class I teach for the next six months is pure profit.  I keep a very thorough spreadsheet detailing parking charges, BART fees, sub payments, Zumba gear, promotional items, insurance fees, ZIN membership fees, trainings, other Zumba classes I take, etc.  And though I had spent almost $650 before I got my first paycheck, it was only 6 quick months before I had turned into pure profit.

This is even more amazing when you consider that I only teach 2 classes per week, and one of those classes pays less than $10/class on average.  I do sub regularly, so my average is probably closer to 3 times a week.  The point is that I'm not killing myself, I'm healthier, and I'm making money.  win-win-win!

I'm heading off to Lexington, KY for 6-12 months to accompany my domestic partner on her temporary engineering assignment.  I'm going there without any great full-time employment leads.  Yet, I'm confident that I will be able to continue to teach Zumba and make money from it, no matter where I go!

I've been talking to a few students lately to convince them to become instructors themselves.  This is why.  Again, it's not about the money, but in this economy, the money helps.

Happy Dancing,
~RoB

Monday, October 24, 2011

Forgot My Shoes

Anyone who has ever taught a dance fitness class, or been any sort of dance instructor, has a deep fear of forgetting their music.  Or their music not working (iPod stops working, CD skips, etc.).  We have nightmares about it.  We get anxious about it and check our bags multiple times before leaving (and even upon arrival) for class.  Though Zumba was founded on such an incident (Beto forgetting his music and playing Latin CDs out of his car), it doesn't help ease the stress that a dance class is based on dancing to music.

So, I regularly freak out about my iPods, CDs (yes, I bring 2 of each because I'm crazy), and all of my music.

Never, ever, did I think about worrying about my shoes.  Until I forgot them.
My Rod Lavers.  I love their soles for dancing!

For the past 2 weeks I've been subbing for a Zumba class on Wednesday morning at Nob Hill.  I taught a class there over the summer, and most of my regulars dance in this class, so it's been fun.  I also have my regular Wednesday evening class at the Fillmore Center.  Both of these are in San Francisco, and I live in Oakland.  Also, I wear the same shoes for all of my Zumba classes, since they work perfectly.

I get pretty sweaty when I'm dancing.  My plan was to wear flip-flops in between classes so that my shoes get sufficient drying time.  It keeps 'em fresh.

The amount of time between the two classes was too long for me to just loiter aimlessly in the city, and my dog was having oral surgery, so I figured I would head home for the afternoon.  I came home, hung up my wet clothes, put my shoes out to dry, and did typical house-husband things.

When the time came around, I changed, grabbed my Zumba bag, and headed to class.  It turns out that I left my shoes at home.  I discovered this an hour later, once I was deep into the city in rush hour traffic.  There was no way of me getting to a shoe store, let alone home to retrieve my shoes.  So, I danced barefoot.  I explained to my class how much I always freak out about bringing music, and how ironic it is that the things I actually forget are my shoes.  Which it's really difficult to leave your house without.

Things went well.  Socks make for good spins.  It still just cracks me up that I actually forgot my shoes for a Zumba class.  I'd recommend you try not to do that, and maybe breathe a little easier about your music.

Happy Dancing,
~RoB

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Back of the Class

My first time dancing in the front of the class came the first time I taught a class.  (I guess, technically, there were 2 songs where I was up front during my Instructor Training, but I'm not counting them.)

From the beginning, I've always been a back row dancer.  Part of it probably has to do with the fact that I'm a big guy.  Zumba classes are almost entirely girls.  Rarely have I been to a class with more than one guy, which is usually me.  I have ridiculously wide shoulders for a person who only stands 5'7".  I usually dress ridiculously (hello bright maize ensemble w/ a headband).

I've just never felt like I needed to be in the front row with all of the ripped girls in their sports bras.  Heck, I'd probably block people from being able to see.  Meet me in back with everyone else that's uncomfortable with themselves (or their dancing).

Here's what a typical class feels like.  I'd be touching the back wall.

Today, I had an unusually small class at the Fillmore Center Club One in San Francisco.  The studio there is odd shaped, in that the instructor teaches from the short wall in a rectangular room.  It's not uncommon to have 8-10 rows of 4-5 people across.  (Like I said, an odd shape.)  I've never had the impression that people couldn't see, so it works, and everybody seems happy.

Since I had a small class, I decided to pull the "hey you ladies in the back, come be the front row."  I thought it'd be fun.  For one thing, there was a lady really close to me up front that I was going to ease backward a little.  Secondly, with a small, supportive class, it would be nice to let those ladies that usually hide get to shine.

You in the back, come forward and be a star!

They refused to come forward.  I should have taken the hint and moved on.  Instead I was all "no seriously.  It'll be fun.  Fine, I'll come back there, then."

I had the whole class turn around toward the back, and we did Pitbull's "Pause".  I could feel the anxiety back there immediately.  By the second chorus, I turned everyone back to the front, and we resumed the class in its normal manner for the rest of the time.

So my first attempt at the 'bring the back row forward' was an epic fail.  I wanted to apologize to them afterward.  I hope I will at least get a few emails saying, "Please, don't ever do that again" so that I can respond to them individually.  I really would like it to work out, but I'm not going to try it again anytime soon.

Has anybody seen this happen successfully?  Tips/hints/advice?

Happy Dancing!
~RoB

Thursday, September 1, 2011

DOSFOUR

Leyder, the uber-popular salsa instructor at Club One Oakland that I've subbed for, just released his second CD with his band DOSFOUR.  It dropped less than a month ago.  Since I'm super cool, I got a free copy of it.

That's gorgeous Leyder on the cover.

In return, I'm going to be using the song "No Se Controla" in my Zumba routine for a while.  I get a little lazy when it comes to referencing songs that I'm using, or partial choreography that I'm using.  I'll try to remember to shout out his name every once in a while when we're dancing to it, but this is just the long explanation of what I'm talking about.

For now, I want to credit Vanessa W. with most of the routine to "It's Raining Men".  Courtney provided most of the choreography for "Livin' La Vida Loca" for the Truckee 4th of July Parade, which I kept using.  Also, Yeni inspired most of the choreography for "Pegate", but I don't think they look very similar anymore.  It's been a while since I danced it with her.  Finally, Wil came up with the cha-cha and addictive arm movements in the chorus of "California Gurls" which I built the rest of the song around.

I only use choreography from instructors that I very much enjoy and recommend.  I hope they see that as an honor, and I think you should try and snag a class from any of them if you find one.

Everything else I do is either completely choreographed by me or augmented by official ZUMBA routines... or from music videos like "Pause" and "Footloose".



Now my conscience is clear.

Happy Dancing,
~RoB


Saturday, July 23, 2011

BORP (Adaptive) Zumba

For those unaware, I'm working with BORP to create a Zumba class that everybody, literally every body, can enjoy.  BORP is the Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program, and they are one of the main programs within the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley, CA.
BORP is the leading provider and promoter of accessible sports and recreation opportunities for children and adults with physical disabilities in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

The class vision: a person in a power wheelchair will be sweating along to the music while a 20-year-old Cal student is dancing behind them.  A mother of two dances beside them, while someone with leg braces is workin' it in the back.

I'm not a licensed Zumba Gold instructor yet (though I'm signing up for a class in September).  However, I don't really want the class to be called Zumba Gold.  I don't even want to label it "Adaptive Zumba" (so I haven't).  I don't want people to think that it's only for seniors or only for people with disabilities.  I want it to be a fully integrated community dance class.  I guarantee that you can still sweat if we sit down for a song or two.  We want you to feel free to do what you can, and to try something new.
This is not a picture of my class. This is how it feels, though!

The class mantra: you are a person first, and your disability should not define you, nor should it isolate you from the community.  You should be able to dance like everyone else.  If you are a marathon runner, a dancer, have a little problem moving around, are a senior, or if you are in a wheelchair, this class is meant to make you feel included and still get you a good workout.

I've heard from my dancers with disabilities that they've been told their whole life to "keep up" or that "instructors usually get nervous or anxious when I show up to their classes".  Well, I don't.  However, I also don't want you to think that I'm going to take it easy on you.  You're going to sweat.  You're going to dance.  And you're going to have fun!

Your first class at BORP is free, and you can find out how to register on the Zumba w/ ~RoB tab.

I'd love to get some more of the community into the studio to shake their booties with me.  Plus, you'll get to use the brand new facility that's adjacent to the Ashby Bart Station in Berkeley.

Come join us Thursday evenings at 6:15 pm, and please, please, please tell your friends!

Happy Dancing,
~RoB

Monday, July 11, 2011

Truckee Independence Day Parade

For the 4th of July holiday weekend, my girlfriend and I headed up to her hometown on the north shore of Lake Tahoe in Northern California.  As it turns out, we are really good at finding barbecues.  It was at one of these bbqs that one of my girlfriend's closest childhood friends mentioned that she was going to be Zumba-ing in a parade on the 4th.  (This same friend was featured in my first official class.  Thanks for making the shirts!)

It sounded interesting, so I wanted some more details.  Her local, Tahoe City, Zumba instructor had teamed up with one in Truckee to include a bunch of Zumba dancers into the hometown parade.  There were 3 songs that were choreographed, and they had been posted online.  As she was telling me about it, she looked at me and exclaimed 'You should come do it, too!'  (Paraphrased... she may not have exclaimed it.)

My first thoughts were, 'Thanks, but I don't know the instructors, and I've never seen the choreography, and I would really feel like I was imposing.'  Skip ahead 18 hours or so, and I'm standing next to her in the parade lineup with my favorite Zumba outfit on ready to dance and sweat and cheer.

Why did I decide to do Zumba in the parade?  She fessed up to not really knowing the routines, and she waited until I was in a food coma to have my girlfriend coerce me to committing.  After all, I could look at the videos online, I was pretty confident in being able to pick up on dances quickly, and it made for a good story for you guys (my readers).  As it turns out, they were more than happy to have me.

A few minutes into the parade, I was called out by a radio station announcer.  "Hey, is that Richard Simmons?"  (I'll blog more about this often-made comparison later.)  I took the opportunity to shimmy and really show off, and the crowd ate it up.  I'm happy to take advantage of moments like that, and it was probably the best part of the parade for me.  Here are some photos that were snapped along the route:

I'm a little bit of a ham. I regularly ran out into the audience and got them to dance with me!

Shimmy-ing to 'Livin La Vida Loca' at the judges booth.
I've since added two of the parade songs to my list of go-to Zumba songs.  I also got to hand out some of my business cards to the lovely people that I danced with, in hopes they might be able to swing by one of my classes in the Bay Area if they are ever visiting.

The group that we were dancing with ended up winning for 'Best Commercial Float'.  Our superb dancing didn't go unnoticed!

So, morals of the story are: the Zumba community truly is inviting and gracious and fun, and you should take every opportunity to just go out and dance.  Oh, and Go America, too!!

Happy Dancing,
~RoB

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Financial Investment

10 days ago, or so, I had a momentous occasion.  For the first time ever, I was paid for teaching Zumba!  Technically, I haven't been paid yet, but I know it's coming, and how much it is, so I guess I'll count it.

This was the first time that I added a 'positive' value to my spreadsheets that thoroughly detail the total amount I've spent throughout this process.  I was asked by someone today (a gentleman!) about the process for becoming a Zumba Instructor.  (I'm sending him your way, Joy!)  The thing that I've left out of my story so far is the financial investment you have to make before you start earning any money back.

Everything costs money, and you need to be ready to front a lot of it until it starts coming the other way:
- Instructor Training (The largest and first-seen cost.)
- Monthly ZIN Membership (You should definitely do this.)
- Promotional Posters / Business Cards (You'll want something to get your name out.)
- Zumba Gear (Become the fitness instructor, don't expect words to work on their own!)
- Liability Insurance (Get it if necessary, and I had to.)
- Zumba Classes (You'll still want to keep going to Zumba classes to continue to network and learn.)
- Zumba Music (You want to personalize your music, so have a few unique songs to stand out.)
- Parking/Memberships/Bridge Tolls/ Etc. (All those little expenses that add up if you track them.)

In general, I'd say you should expect to invest about 2.5 times the price of the instructor training before you will see any money back.  Obviously, that number varies widely depending on how long you wait to start teaching, and how much you immerse yourself in gear and promotional items, but I think that is a fair number to plan for.

Money shouldn't discourage you, but you should be serious about the investment considering the economic times we're in.  Hope this helps those of you considering starting a Zumba journey of your own!!

Happy Dancing,
~RoB

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Getting to the BORP Fitness Center

So, you're interested in the FREE ZUMBA class and you've registered online by following these instructions.  You've looked for directions online, but you are still a little unsure about how to actually get to the class.

In showing up to finalize things at the BORP Fitness Center yesterday afternoon, I realized that it might be a little difficult to find.  So, below is a virtual tour showing you how to get to the studio if it is your first time.

Coming from BART
Get off BART at the Ashby Station.
After you've passed the stanchions, look up and slightly left.
Follow the signs through those glass doors.
Turn right through the doors and get on an elevator.
Go to the first floor (it is starred).
Turn left out of the elevator and walk beyond the desk.
This is where the Zumba magic will happen!
Coming North on Adeline
You'll be driving beside the BART station on Adeline.
You'll encounter this sign. Aim for BART Parking, NOT ERC!
You'll drive past the main entrance, but you'll see it on your right.
Turn right past this sign to go to Free BART Parking.  
Follow the path back to the parking lot.
Find a spot, park, and aim for this door.
Walk inside and head down the hallway, then turn left.
This is where the Zumba magic will happen! (You just came down that hall on the left.)

Coming South on Adeline
You'll be driving beside the BART station on Adeline.
You'll encounter this sign. Follow the arrow for Free BART Parking.
Follow the path back to the parking lot.
Find a spot, park, and aim for this door.
Walk inside and head down the hallway, then turn left.
This is where the Zumba magic will happen! (You just came down that hall on the left.)

I hope these help photos make finding the class easier, and I'm very excited to dance with you,
~RoB

Monday, June 20, 2011

MY OWN CLASS!

The first Zumba class I'll be teaching at the Ed Roberts Campus on Thursday, June 23rd is ABSOLUTELY FREE TO EVERYONE!!!

The Ed Roberts Campus is a new facility in what used to be entirely an Ashby BART parking lot.  Now, what's left of the lot surrounds the building, and BORP is one of the programs housed within that provides services for physically disabled children and adults throughout the Bay Area.  The BORP Fitness Center wants to bring in able-bodied members of the community to get to know the building, which is why they are offering classes that cater more toward general fitness, with little-to-no emphasis on adaptive recreation (though anybody that shows up is invited to join in on the fun).  50% of the proceeds from each class go towards this amazing, non-profit organization!  The address is below, and it links to a google map view of the property.

3075 Adeline St, Suite 150 
Berkeley, CA 94703

I'm worried that the class is going to fill up, and I want to give my friends and family (and blog readers) first dibs at a spot in the class.  Following are detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to register online.  In order to start, CLICK HERE.

This is the first screen. You should see my class near the bottom. Click 'Sign Up Now'.
Your first time, you'll need to fill out the bottom section and click 'Next'. If you're returning, input your username/pass.
This is all the info you must provide your first time. Remember your username/pass for future classes!
You may have to go back to the beginning, or it may take you straight to this page, but your name should be at the top-right (censored here).  When you get to the signup page, 'Register as Unpaid'! After your first time, classes are $11 each, but your first class at BORP is free!
This is your confirmation/schedule screen.  Only one class will be listed, but you can go add future ones!

Now, don't register unless you can show up.  I expect the class to sell out, and it would be unfair for you to hold a FREE reservation if other people are available to attend.  Feel free to forward this information on to all who are interested, and I'm excited to see you on Thursday.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions/problems by going to my Bio & Contacts tab!

Happy Dancing,
~RoB

Thursday, June 16, 2011

First Real Classes

An instructor in Concord, CA, needed a sub for her Zumba class while she recovered from a pinched nerve.  Two people that I had originally met at B1 training posted that they were subbing, and I asked for details so I could come to the class.  They offered for me to teach a song or two, and I gladly accepted.  (This is a perfect example showing how important networking becomes immediately, so make friends when you go to that instructor training!)

The class was amazing.  It turned into a mini-Master's class, except the 'masters' were new instructors that had never taught in front of a full class before.  By the end, 4 of us fresh instructors had a chance to teach songs, but most of them were taught by Amelia, the wife of the couple I had met at the instructor course.

These were the 4 new instructors that taught!  Amelia's up front.
None of the pictures that my darling girlfriend took on her phone turned out spectacularly.  I'll take all the blame, though, since I didn't give the dancers a second to stand still.  All they could do was:

Lift!
& Jump!
& Cross!
& Slide!

I led two songs, and the feedback from the class afterward couldn't have been better.  It was a really enthusiastic crowd in the largest dance space I've had the privilege to use since I started Zumba.

It was so fun that I went back this week.  This time, the regular instructor was on vacation, which is probably going to help her heal faster (instead of trying to dance too soon).  Anyway, I taught 2 more songs!  I planned on doing 2 different songs from the week before, but I had requests for one of the previous songs.  That's right.  People are already requesting favorite songs!  I can't describe how good that makes me feel.  The crowd this week was just as enthusiastic afterward.

I'm so pumped for my first hour-long class, for the opportunity to show you all of my moves!
~RoB

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Aquazumba w/ Yeni

On Saturday morning, I went to my first Aquazumba class.  I really want to get exposure to all of the different types of Zumba, except for Zumbatomic.  I can already tell that Zumbatomic just isn't for me.  I believe that I'd be amazing at Zumba Gold, and I think I should get into Zumba Toning, but Aquazumba was the first class I found outside of the realm that I am already familiar with.  It was the first day that it was being taught by an instructor that I had already taken 'Land' Zumba from, Yeni.
Meet Yeni!  (Click here to go to her website.)
Funny story.  I met Yeni at a Zumba class, where she was dancing along instead of teaching.  It was the first time I had ever seen her, so I made some comment about how great she was (specifically at salsa).  Her response, "Yeah, I teach Zumba here."  It was awkward, but it left an impression.  The talented, unforgettable Yeni.  Her 'Land' Zumba choreography can be a little more complex than the average beginner class, but that makes it way more fun the second or third time you see it, and you're able to do it all!  Her dancing talent is obvious in every move she makes.

It was Yeni's first Aquazumba class (which fit well with my first time taking Aquazumba).  She recognized me as soon as I showed up to the pool, so I felt very VIP.  My overall feelings about Aquazumba: I didn't love it.  It wasn't the instructor or choreography or music, Yeni was great!  She was very conscious about using buoyancy in your favor to avoid injuries, and it made me realize how ideal this class would be if I had any sort of sports injury.  The amount of intensity and overall fitness the instructor has to exude from the deck while the class is flopping around in the water is unbelievable, and I'm positive that I couldn't do it at my current fitness level.  (Luckily, Yeni is in great shape [rockin' the abs] and spent the hour jumping around as if gravity didn't fully effect her either, even though she wasn't in the water.)

I just found myself continuously frustrated that I wasn't able to dance on beat.  It's just too difficult to move fast enough.  I wish I was better at figuring out how to best move my limbs to make snappy, in-sync motions in the water, but I just don't know if that is even possible.  As someone who likes to add the little flourishes to make my dancing look that much fancier, I struggled with not being able to move my feet quickly or shimmy to my heart's content.  I also found some of the moves to fight me to the point of stagnation.  Trying to move to the right while pushing water to the right is great resistance training, I'm sure, but it is frustrating to work hard and not go anywhere.


I'm sure I'll go back in a month or so, since I don't have a free Saturday to spare until after the 4th of July, but I don't see myself going regularly.  It's just too much money; money that I'd rather spend on 'Land' Zumba!

Nevertheless, Thanks for the experience, Yeni!  Keep up the good work!  I recommend everyone to try Aquazumba at least once, and I think some of you may enjoy it more than I've led you to believe here.
~RoB

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Zumba Instructor Gear

I did my first Zumba shopping as an official instructor.  I figured that if I'm going to start playing the part, I might as well look it.  I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked the clothing.  I'm not someone who is usually inspired by online clothes shopping.

I'm getting excited for them to get here (they should be here on Friday).  I'm a little nervous about sizes.  Like most guys, I didn't measure myself and just guessed.  I hope they don't run small!  Anyway, I thought I'd let you see what I bought!

The first shirt I bought represents my affinity toward bright colors:
I've always enjoyed tank tops, but I don't think my clavicle scar is very appetizing to show my class, so I went with a Maize/Blue cutoff for my second purchase:
Finally, I snagged a ruby shirt because it also had the Maize/Blue theme going.  I also think that I have the body shape of a rugby player, so why not embrace it:
I'm also considering buying these shirts, but I need to start earning back some of my Zumba investment before I'll buy anything else:
Pants?  Who wears pants?
Just kidding.  I prefer to wear shorts when I'm Zumba-ing, and none of the shorts were quite the style that I like.  However, I'm really, really considering buying a pair of Disco Sport Shorts from Betabrand.  I could definitely rock a pair of those (and they're local)!

What do you think?
~RoB

Monday, June 6, 2011

5k Challenge

Yesterday, I raced the Lake Chabot Trail Challenge Half Marathon & 5K (just the 5k, though).  This was my second 5k in the past few months.

My goal was to finish in under 30 minutes.  I didn't.  I finished in 31:55, which is 30 seconds slower than my 5k at the end of March.  Then, I woke up this morning and weighed myself.  I gained an anomalous amount of weight in the past week, even though I Zumba'd almost every day, and ran a 5k race.

At least I had a great outfit (and look at those calves)!

So, I'm changing my strategy a little.  I'm going to start running more.  I'm going to look for another 5k coming up in the next month or two, and I'm going to race it in under 30 minutes.  I'm going to do this by getting in more running miles per week.  I've looked at this running program many times, and I've even started it once or twice.  Since the goal of this blog is to motivate me to change my life, it is a perfect opportunity for me to take it seriously and try to improve my 5k time.  I know the program is designed for people just starting off, but let's be honest, I am just barely surviving these 5k's.

In the past, one day of rain or an unplanned event always knocked me off of my schedule, and I immediately quit.  Well, No More!

Silver lining to yesterday's 5k: if there was a 26-30 age division (as opposed to 20-29) for males, I totally would have won my division.  Same goes (I'm assuming) if they had weight divisions.
~RoB

Friday, June 3, 2011

Demo/Audition/Interview

Today, I had my first interview.  I've been prepping my hour-long choreography every day since last Friday when I found out.  I was asked to give a full demo, and I was told that I would be interviewed afterward.

Here's how it went:

I woke up ridiculously early.  An hour earlier than usual, which sets the alarm to 4:45 am!  I took my Australian Shepherd to doggy day care so I didn't have to worry about him until after my interview.  I had cooked my breakfast and lunch the night before, so I snagged them out of the fridge on the way out.

I got to work when it opened (an hour earlier than usual).  My days are flexible as long as I put in 8 hours before 5pm.  I have to drive 40-minutes one-way (and almost an hour from doggy-day care).  It was a really busy day at work, but at least that helped the time go by.

At 3:30pm I rushed to my car and drove home.  I immediately hopped in the shower (my curls are outta control), ran around getting dressed and packing everything.  I had extra clothes, about 10 different forms of my hour playlist, notes, pen/paper, water, towel, a sweatband?, ballroom shoes, jazz slippers, who knows what else.  Everything else was on my body and I rushed out.

Traffic was awful.  I was stuck at the I-580/80 interchange where traffic combines coming off of the Bay Bridge forever.  Though I had done everything in my power to get there on time, I pulled up to the studio 4 minutes after my interview started.  Then, there was no parking.  I drove around the parking lot next door hoping to snag a spot, and I finally gave up and parked in the back parking lot of a neighboring apartment building.  Sorry... gotta run!

I walked in and met the manager, and she was totally laid back, which was a relief.  She immediately looked at the schedule and realized she had scheduled my demo on top of a yoga class.  Crap.  The only room that was open... was the childcare / play room:
Not the actual room, but very, very close.
Then the manager drops bomb #2.  She has been dealing with a sports injury.  Today she was finally told to stay off it.  So, there will be no demo.

[I think I'm kinda funny looking.  I had to be convinced by one of my instructors that people would even have interest in taking classes from a chubby instructor.  However, I'm slowly getting over it.  I think my dancing speaks for itself.  Here, though, my dancing, and all of my practicing, will go unseen.  *Must* Keep *Smiling*]

She asked me a few questions, but didn't really write anything down.  The expansion that they are going to have Zumba classes in isn't even done yet.  She said that they would call people that make the second round and bring them in for a real demo in the new studio.  Then I left.

Overall impression?  Underwhelming...?  I worked really hard for nothing.  I'm happy I did it, because I'm ready to give demos all over the place.  However, I had really amped myself up thinking that this was going to be the place where I started, and from which I would gain tons of experience and a small following of devoted dancers.  So far, we're not much further along in the process.

Life will continuously throw obstacles at you.  Roll with the punches, and keep pursuing your goals.  I will.

Determined to be a Zumba Instructor,
~RoB

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Christmas Zumba

It snowed this weekend up at Lake Tahoe, when I was there for the long holiday weekend.  It gave me a flashback to last Christmas break.  Before becoming a licensed Zumba instructor, I have to admit that I did teach one (unauthorized) class.  Aaanndd, you can see a few snip-its of it here.  (Sorry for the low-quality video, but it was just supposed to be a warm, cozy, family home-video taken on a smartphone.)

video

Last Christmas, as a way of entertaining the large crowd that we have, I was charged with the task of leading a Christmas-inspired Zumba class.  My girlfriend's mom knew how much I had been taking Zumba classes, and she was also well-aware of my dancing experience.  She's in charge (the video is in her living room), and she asked me to entertain her Christmas Day party.  So, I set off to put together a short Zumba class!

As you can see, I had a wide variety of ages/genders/dance levels to deal with.  I tried to use as many Christmas songs as I could.  At that point, I had no intention of ever becoming a Zumba instructor.  Honestly, at that point, I was planning on continuing my PhD at UCLA, which I returned to after the new year.  Things change, though, and 5 months later I was convinced to become a real instructor.  Having taking the instructor course, I now know a ton of things that could have made my life a lot easier for that Christmas Zumba class.  However, I don't regret taking a chance on my own to think about a Zumba class from an instructor's perspective before actually becoming an instructor.

Big thanks to my girlfriend's family for the opportunity, and especially to her sister for recording and editing the video!

I hope Beto doesn't see this and sue me for teaching before I was allowed.  (Come on Beto, I did it for free, and it was Christmas!)
~RoB

Monday, May 30, 2011

First Official Class

First class?  Honestly, it was more like a practice session.  I was up at Lake Tahoe for Memorial Day weekend, and I knew that I needed to finish my first hour of choreography.  My girlfriend and her parents (where we were staying) have been extremely supportive.  They invited a few people over for me to practice my fresh choreography on.

Some enthusiastic Zumba dancers made shirts!
I really appreciated the chance to try things out on people.  I really had no clue how people would respond to my moves (rather they were too difficult or too simple), my choreography (too repetitive or too complex), and how water breaks/energy/order of songs would all work out.  They all had great comments!
Instructor ~RoB w/ his favorite 'Real Men Need More Ballroom' Tshirt
One person said that they didn't know if it was the most exhausting Zumba class they had ever taken, that it was on the milder end.  However, another dancer dropped out halfway through, so that is a little hard to calibrate.  Also, all of the participants said that they would pay for the class, so that's motivating!  None of the moves were impossible to follow, and they appreciated the number of times that I returned to moves in each song, so that they could add more and more to it each time.

I'm giving a full-hour demo as part of an interview on Thursday evening in El Cerrito, CA.  This practice certainly gave me a boost of confidence, and it pointed it the 3-4 sections that I need to work on over the next 2 days.

Practice makes perfect, so keep working at it!  (Oh, and I'm starting to freak out!)
~RoB