Monday, May 23, 2011

Instructor Training

I was extremely nervous about attending instructor training.  I feared I'd be the only guy there, that I'd be the only fat person there, that everyone would be a better dancer than me, and anything else that you can imagine.  I told my girlfriend not to be surprised if I just left in the middle of the class out of embarrassment.

I've heard for years how good of a dancer I am.  I've even had people walk up to me after Zumba classes telling me how much they enjoy my dancing, and how they feed off of my energy.  I had one of my favorite instructors demand that I become one myself.  I feel like I'm a good Zumba dancer, but I feared I wasn't ready for the next step.

The email we got from the instructor (Joy Smith) of the course didn't help settle my nerves.  It included a picture of her on the cover of Zumba's magazine:
First of all, she's perfect.  Gorgeous and in shape.  I looked up her bio and she's a phenomenal dancer, too.
Secondly, it warned not to wear running shoes (which is my preferred shoe for Zumba).
Third, it talked about ACE/AFAA instructors, which I'm not, nor did I intend on becoming.  That's for serious physical fitness trainers, and I'm just a passionate dancer.
Lastly, it had the always-scary 'bring $$' to join the Zumba Instructors Network and buy gear.  I'm a little strapped right now, so handing out more money looked scary.

The Instructor training started with a Master Class led by Joy.  Imagine all of the best dancers in Northern California (all of those people in the front row of the Zumba classes you attend).  [I'm always dancing in either the back row or the far side.  I've never danced in the front row, ever.]  Anyway, imagine all of those great dancers all in one room.  That was the master class.  I was workin' it, but so were the other 50 ladies (and one guy).

Amazingly, about half way through, Joy ran off her stage and came to grab me.  She recognized me dancing with a ton of energy over in the corner, and she apparently wanted to show one of the guys off to the crowd. Everyone was really enthusiastic, and I was immediately popular.  Throughout the next breaks and lunch, I felt the most popular that I had ever felt.  Everyone smiled and told me 'good job', when I was so worried that they would think I was just the creepy, fat guy in the back corner.

The rest of the day was pretty exhausting, but I brought plenty of food and stayed hydrated.  Joy pulled me up on stage during Salsa instruction, too.  I cheered when she started talking about salsa, and I guess she could tell during the salsa dancing portion that I was particularly enthusiastic (and fun to watch) at that dance in particular.  I wasn't the only one to get pulled on stage throughout the day, and I kept trying to hide off in the corner, so I don't think it came off as too 'teacher's pet-y'.

Anyway, the rest of the day went well.  Most of the questions I had going in were answered.  I need to work on some of my cumbia technique, and it is scary to think about how much music you have to memorize to teach a 1-hour class, but it certainly got me really excited to start teaching a class.  There were a lot of things that I think I was already prepared for, but the more I talk it over with my girlfriend, the more things I realize I learned at the training.

So, I'm an officially licensed Zumba instructor now!  The first big hurdles are behind me.  Now I need to choreograph an hour and get my name out there.  I hope I can start teaching classes ASAP!

"Be daring and try success."  (The quote at the bottom of Joy's emails is so fitting for this.)


  1. Thanks for sharing your experience Rob! If you need any help getting your classes up and running, on the marketing side especially, let me know (I'm also a Zumba instructor). Best of luck!

  2. Interesting resources, ZumbaInstructors. I've added your blog to my Reader, and I expect to use some of your ideas. Thanks!

  3. Hey Rob, I may have been at your same zumba training.. Atleast it sounds like something that went down at my training... Anyway, hang in there and just keep practicing your choreo and going to zumba to enhance your stamina... When you do what you love, it shows :) and people will be drawn to you! Congrats on your journey! Best of luck to you, to us!

  4. Hey Linz! I was at last Saturday's training in Modesto, CA. Thank you for the motivational words!

  5. Rob,

    I had Joy as well she is amazing and I was so inspired when I left. However, I was a bit nervous as well. Now I am teaching twice a week and I am always looking at inspiring others as Joy inspired me that day. thanks for sharing...

    Zumba Love from Minneapolis,

    Alma Allen

  6. Rob, I was there too! You did great. I had the same anxiety before the training, but it ended up being so fun. That's what I love about Zumba! There were all different types of people there, and everyone was friendly and supportive. Good luck on your journey. I know you'll be a great Zumba instructor!
    Take care,