Monday, December 17, 2012

Holiday Music Disclaimer

Around this time of year I always like to add in festive holiday music to my Zumba playlists.  I just want to take this moment tell you all that I respect you all completely and I'm not trying to impose my musical selections on you.  I'm not trying to make a political or religious statement.

The truth is, this is the only time of year when absolutely ridiculous music is stuck in our heads 24/7.  I like to take advantage of that and give you dance moves to help cope with it.

Honestly, I use few songs that you've probably ever heard before, but if you listen closely (or listen in Spanish), you'll see that some of them are indeed Christmas songs.  Again, it's just for fun, and they will go away after the holidays.

Thank you for enjoying all of my classes and continuing to dance with me.

Happy Holidays & Happy Dancing,

Monday, July 9, 2012

2012 Fascination Awards

I'm not sure if I was nominated by one of my followers, or if the editorial staff running the competition found me online themselves.  Regardless, I'm in the top 14 (of over 100 submissions) for the 2012 Fascination Awards in the category of Zumba Teacher Blog.  The awards honor genuinely fascinating content that inspires its audience.  This was their notification that I had made the top 14:
"An article you wrote in 2011 titled Instructor Training has earned your blog a nomination for a Fascination Award: 2012's Most Fascinating Zumba Teacher blog.
The comments posted in response to your post prove that your content not only inspires your audience, but it also creates discussion around your posts, both of which are requirements for the nomination of a Fascination award."
Now, all I have to do is have people agree that my blog is the most fascinating/inspiring.  You can help by voting for me!  The process is slightly circuitous, but I would greatly appreciate it.
  1. Click on the 'Vote for Me' button below. It will take you to a Google+ page.
  2. Scroll down until you see "Cast Your Vote for the Most Fascinating Zumba Teacher Blog of 2012". It's currently the fourth post I see on the page.
  3. Click on "14 comments" at the bottom of the post, or the double-down arrow beside "14 comments".
  4. Find "" and click on the +1 button that should show up beside the link when you scroll over it.
Awards Emblem

If you did all of that, then you voted, and I thank you from the bottom of my dance shoes.

Regardless if I win or not, Thank You all for your participation, your support, and for enjoying and being inspired by this blog and my attempts at a healthier lifestyle through Zumba.

Happy Dancing,

Thursday, July 5, 2012

My First 10k

In Lexington, the big event on the 4th of July isn't the fireworks at 10pm, it's the 10 km race at 7:30am.  It's called the Bluegrass 10,000, and 3,015 participants finished yesterday.  I came in 2,070th overall.

I had American Flag shorts on, too!
I didn't finish in a blazing time, but I was so proud just to cross the finish line without walking at any point. I ran it significantly faster than I thought I'd be able to, with an 11-minute mile pace.  Keep in mind that I'm no small person.

It's been rough to train for, since searing heat has been pounding the Bluegrass region over the last month.  It's also really early in the morning... for me.  Regardless, I was successful, so now I can take a day or two off.

I really think ZUMBA has helped me gain the endurance to run further and faster over the past year, so now I just have to break the 30-minute curse.

Happy Dancing,

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

30-Minute Curse

The first time I ran a 5k, I ran it in 27 minutes.  It was an intramural 5k race during my second year of college.  The checkpoints notified me that I ran my first mile in 8 minutes, my second in 9, and my third in roughly 10 minutes.  Now as I look back, I think to myself, 'Wow, I could run an 8-minute mile?'  That was my first time ever doing a timed, long-distance run, and it would be my most successful.

In high school I clocked a 7:09 mile officially in a gym class.  I clocked a 6:58 mile at home, unofficially, on a sports watch.  These aren't record-breaking running speeds, but if you look at me, I really don't look like I should be able to run very fast.  I'm not an NFL lineman after all.

Ever since that first 5k, I've never been able to run another one under 30 minutes.  I call it my 30-minute curse.  When I blew the Krispy Kreme Challenge out of the water a few months ago, I was sure that my next 5k was going to be the one.  I was going to break the curse.  Well, it turns out that the inaugural Jean Farris Run & Sip 5k would not be the one.  (They spelled my name "Rub" and considered me a 22-year-old, but my time was right.)  30:15.  I would have been more than happy with 29:59, but no, I lost 16 seconds in there somewhere.  Who couldn't make up 16 seconds somewhere along the route?!

Now, I'm training to run the Bluegrass 10k on the 4th of July.  I'm looking for one more 5k to run soon after that.  If I can manage to get my time under 30 minutes, I'll be more than happy to retire my running shoes.  Then, maybe, I could dance more ;)

Happy Dancing,

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pop Up Video

The Pop Up Video I choreographed is now online!  For the first time in my life, a dance that I fully choreographed and performed is on Youtube.  My dancers picked up on some pretty tough choreography in just 45 minutes, and they look so good!

If you watch the video for Motownphilly, you'll see where I got most of my moves from.  Our dancing isn't perfect, but you can see what we were trying to do.

Motownphilly is one of my favorite songs of all time.  Maybe my #1 favorite.  It was really fun to have to listen to and watch it over and over again while I was choreographing.  Plus, choreography like this is a refreshing change from the sometimes-repetitive nature of Zumba.

I hope Motownphilly is stuck in your head now.  Enjoy it.

Happy Dancing,

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pop Up Video

I've announced that on Friday, June 1st at 6pm, I will be teaching a Pop Up Video class.  It'll be to one of my favorite songs of all time:  Boyz II Men's ♫ Motownphilly ♫.  Some of you have asked what Pop Up Video is, so here's a few examples.

Pop Up Video was a VH1 sensation where popular videos had little tidbits of knowledge inside bubbles that 'popped up' throughout the song so that you knew about back stories, or easter eggs, or anything else interesting.  It's actually started up again on VH1 over the past year.

The fitness class started right here in Lexington at Urban Active's Palumbo location under the choreography of Allison P.  You can search "Palumbo Pop Up" on Youtube to see all 8 installments.

This was my favorite class, even though I wasn't there.  Allison doing the Hammer Dance across the floor cracks me up every time:

And this is the class that I attended.  See if you can find me:

So, now that you're excited, put June 1st on the calendar.  Meet me at Palumbo at 5:55pm, and bring your thinking caps.  "The spotlight [will be] on us..."  Who knows, maybe we'll be the next big thing on Youtube!

Happy Dancing,

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Think About Health, Not Weight

I was talking to a circle of ladies after class the other day.  Of the 3 of them, one had lost 13 lbs in the 7 weeks since she started taking Zumba classes.  That's amazing!  However, of the other two, one hadn't lost a single pound, and one said she actually gained 2 lbs in the same amount of time.  This got stuck in my head.  It wasn't until later that night when I was showering that a response came into my head that I wish I would have said at that very moment:

"Think About Health, Not Weight."

The truth is, I've been doing Zumba for years now.  And if we're being honest, I've lost very little weight.  Maybe 10 lbs, on a good day, over that very large span of time.  I still have a tummy.  HOWEVER, I'm dramatically healthier.  I don't have flabby arms that wiggle anymore.  My legs are rock solid.  I have the endurance to rock out for an entire hour of Zumba (more, actually).  My blood pressure has gone down.  I'm running faster.  And, I feel better about myself.

The truth is that all of our bodies will react differently.  The woman who gained weight could have gone down a size in her clothes, and replaced some fat in her body with muscle.  Same thing goes for the person with no net loss.

Diet has a huge effect on your weight.  Amount of exercise is also important (especially if you're only hitting the gym once a week for a Zumba class).  So, if you're really worried about that number on the scale (which you shouldn't be), then start by making a small change in your diet for the better and add 30 minutes of exercise to your daily routine.  Don't think you have time for that?  You do.  Nobody said it would be easy.  And please, PLEASE, don't weigh yourself more than once or twice a week.  It's not healthy (psychologically or emotionally).

Or, you can forget about the scale, and just concentrate on being healthier, whenever possible.  That's a goal you can feel better about, and you'll be surprised to see your mood become more positive, and that scale start heading in the right direction.

Don't ever think you're not progressing.  As long as you're having fun, a great Zumba workout is worth it.

Happy Dancing,

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Log Your Dreams - A Guest Post

I was contacted by a fellow blogger & natural health advocate who enjoys the motivation that I provide in my blog, as well as the personal stories of how I'm a real person who struggles with health in wellness.  She recently became a contributor on the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance blog, so I agreed that it would be cool to share one of her most endearing messages with my readers.  It's a message that I agree with, which is why I made this blog in the first place.  So, without further ado, here is Melanie's post:

Logging Your Dreams and Making Them Come True

Where are you right now? Whether you are reeling from a stated prognosis of mesothelioma or you are simply not satisfied with the direction that your health and wellness in general is taking, you will discover you need some kind of tool to get yourself started. states that journal therapy is often defined as writing therapy, and you will find that there are many benefits that it can bring to your life. Logging your desires and your dreams can put you on the path to achieving them, so think about where you are today and how you can get started.

Choose a Method

Part of the fun of journaling is creating a written space that is just for you. How do you feel about the way that you write? For example, some people love the speed and neatness that they get online with a blog, while other people find that this method of journaling and goal setting is deeply impersonal. Do you feel like picking up a pretty notebook at a drug store, or do you prefer something a little more artistic, like a handmade blank book? Chose your journal carefully and consider what you want to work with.

Get Started

Great writers often say that there is nothing more daunting than a blank page, and even if you are tracking your goals and not creating a great novel, this is true. If you want to get started and you want to break up the white expanse of the page in front of you, consider writing a single word that you like. It can be a general instruction like “dream” or “work” or “enjoy” or it might only be the name of someone that you love. This can help break up the tension and allow you to do some real work.

A small amount of effort goes a long way when it comes to journaling. Simply start with an easy prompt, like “I wish” or “I want.” Finish these lines and you’ll find that you have more than enough material to help you write an entire entry. Your desires are an important part of who you are, so think about what your needs might be.

Write Daily

While writing daily can be a bit of a chore, it helps you establish a habit that will be more serviceable to you in the long run. If you start to write in a daily fashion, don’t worry about quality right away. Your daily entries can be as short as a few sentences or even a few words long. The key is to pick up the habit. Write down something that occurred to you today or simply relate what you did today to your goals. Anything works well for this.

Write Down Different Types of Goals

The truth of the matter is that many people write down their goals every day. They find that they need to remember to pick up something at the store, so they make a list. It is important to recognize that not all goals are huge and daunting. Some goals are typically much more homey and friendly, and you will find that if you write down the small goals that you can complete that you will be much more inclined to feel good about yourself. Small encouragements and a “can-do” attitude can go a long way towards helping you decide what you can handle.

Journaling can help you find yourself after a long, confusing time. The goals that you have are in you somewhere, but they may need some time to come to the surface. Write them down and get them out into the world.

Check out a lot more information on illness and wellness at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

Thanks, Melanie!
Happy Dancing,

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Krispy Kreme Challenge

Not only did I complete the Krispy Kreme Challenge, but I ended up in the Overall Top 20.  That's right, 33:23!  I was less than 3 minutes from being in the Top 10.  I couldn't be more proud.  I've never done that well in any kind of foot race.  I may have never done that well in anything (besides academics and high school tennis).  I think I've found my calling.

My secret:  my ability to eat donuts quickly.  I'm running a 5k at a solid 30-minute pace.  I came into the donut station at the halfway point just under 15 minutes.  Most of my fellow challengers had beat me there.  I was into my 3rd donut when I heard a large applause from people watching.  The first person to finish their donuts was just now leaving.  'Just now?' I thought.  Then I watched about 5 more people finish and take off sprinting before I had shoved all of my donuts in my mouth.

Me in the shade eating donuts quickly, stomach expanding.
I was blown away by how slowly everybody ate their donuts.  I thought it was going to be intense.  Don't get me wrong, there were water strategies, and the 'hamburger' strategy (compress 3 together on top of each other and eat them like a sandwich), but I stuck to the strategy I discovered in my last run.  I was one of the first 10 people to finish and take back off.  It was the first time in my life that I could be proud of the speed and volume of food that I can consume.

At the finish line. Yelow bib = ate the donuts. White bib = just running.
I watched a few people pass me as I was running back, keeping a tally in my head.  I rounded the last turn, sprinted to the finish line, and scurried off to find my girlfriend where she was watching from the side with our dog.  I told her that I was pretty sure that I was in the top 20.  She agreed, since she had seen only a few people with yellow bibs pass before me.

I finished.  I came in under 34 minutes, which was a time that I set for myself the day before.  I didn't vomit, and I rocked those big sunglasses for the whole distance.  Now I have to finish a regular 5k in under 30 minutes, since it is one of my big goals.  This event was such a great motivator for getting me back into my running shoes, and such a great way to raise money for Lexington's Habitat for Humanity.

Here's to hoping you find some motivation this month, too.  It's likely that my next race will be Jean Farris' inaugural  5k.  I'll keep you posted, so you can come join me.

Happy Dancing,

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Krispy Kreme Challenge Trial #2

This morning, the Resource Development Coordinator (a fellow Michigan Alum) for Lexington's Habitat for Humanity who originally notified me of the upcoming fundraising Krispy Kreme Challenge 5k was dressed as a Krispy Kreme on Facebook.  It motivated me to have one more practice trial before this Sunday's race.  I decided to up the ante to 9 donuts, in preparation for the full 1-dozen I will have to consume at the race.

Doesn't this get your juices flowing, too? Juices = saliva.
Yes, I've already had one trial.  Why not take advantage of the Krispy Kreme right down the road from me.?!  I also fixed the previous route to make it a perfect 5k, with Krispy Kreme exactly in the middle.  By the way, Google Maps doesn't exactly know where Krispy Kreme is in Lexington.  Luckily, I do.  I added a little detour through the Lowe's parking lot behind Krispy Kreme, which totally wasn't awkward.  Not at all...

Here's how it went last time (which ended up only being 2.66 mi and explains the speedy times [for me, at least]):

Here's how it went today (still with great running times compared to my recent past):

The first thing I'd like to point out is the consistency in being served donuts in 2 minutes (to the second) at the local Krispy Kreme.  They've never yet accepted my clear order of exactly 6 or exactly 9 donuts without trying to upsale me.  It's ok.  I understand.  However, we're wasting time on my stopwatch.

Also, I ate 3 more donuts in only 20 more seconds.  How?  I came up with a strategy.  I didn't have any water available, though I've heard that's what some of the real runners use.  Instead, I used my fairly strong hands to compress each donut as small as possible before I shoved it into my pie-hole.  My cheek muscles got tired around the 7th donut, but I doubt there's a much more efficient way to consume them quickly.

Finally, though the time isn't as impressive as the shorter distance, I'm still running a 5k in less time than my previous two 5k races.  That's exciting, because it means I may actually be getting something out of this ridiculous training.  There's a good chance that the next 5k I run may be in under 30 minutes, crossing off one of my 30 goals to accomplish before I turn 30.

There's still time to register at the lower rate, so come join me.  Unlike most races, this has the aspect of being ridiculous from the on-set, so it's dramatically less pressure to perform well.  If you can finish it, coming in at any time, without vomiting, then you've truly won.

Here's to hoping that you also find something that motivates you this month!

Happy Dancing,

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Krispy Kreme Challenge Trial #1

I have a list of 30 things to do before I turn 30.  Running a 5k in under 30 minutes is on that list, but I keep falling off the wagon when I train for them.  I've run a few in the past year, always clocking in 1-2 minutes short of my goal.

So, when I met the Resource Development Coordinator for Lexington's Habitat for Humanity (a fellow Michigan Alum), I was so excited to hear that they were doing a fundraising Krispy Kreme Challenge 5k.  For those who have never heard of this, participants run a 5k, but stop in the middle to consume a dozen Krispy Kreme original glazed donuts.  I'd heard about these races, but I have never had the opportunity to participate in one.  With a sweet tooth as strong as mine, this finally gave me some motivation to get my feet back out on the pavement.

There's a Krispy Kreme right down the road from me.  So, I decided to see how far away it was:
Roughly 1/2 of a 5k.  How perfect!
This sparked the idea to actually train for the upcoming KKC.  Nothing intense, but I wanted to try running it a few times and consuming donuts to see how my body would react.  (Plus, my domestic partner doesn't let me eat delicous Krispy Kreme donuts without a reason.)  I decided I would run my first trial and eat only a half-dozen donuts.  This is already about double the amount of calories that I'd burn by actually running a 5k, but I used it as breakfast, also.  I was given the advice to start the race hungry.  I'd never typically do this (nor recommend it), but it makes sense in this case due to the calories I'd be consuming mid-race.  I'd feel guilty if I had breakfast before this many donuts, anyway.

Here's how it went:

My time was way faster than I would expect.  So, I had some doubts in Google's distance.  When in doubt, MapyMyRun.  MapMyRun indeed told me that the distance was actually only 1.43 mi.  That explains the discrepancy.  However, I'm still running faster than I expected.  I don't expect to win the upcoming race, but if I can continue to run that fast, I should be able to check another goal off of my 30 by 30 list.

Still a great route for training. Maybe I'll circle my block to perfect it.
I'd still like to do a run where I eat 9 donuts, as well as a practice run where I eat the whole dozen.  I can't do it this weekend (the in-laws are in town).  That gives me just enough time to get two more good trials in before the real Krispy Kreme Challenge is here.

Here's to hoping you find something that motivates you this month!  Feel free to come run with me and raise money for an outstanding organization.

Happy Dancing,

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Commitment to ZUMBA

I was recently approached and offered a job at a local dance studio teaching Latin dancing.  The catch:  I would have to sign a non-competition agreement and stop teaching ZUMBA, or any dancing, at other facilities.

I was honored, but I declined the offer.  I love dancing.  I love teaching.  I miss both.  If I had never found ZUMBA, I would have taken that opportunity immediately.  However, I've made a commitment to myself and to ZUMBA.  I'm sticking to it.

I had to weigh a few things.  First of all, ZUMBA provides me with a free gym membership.  As much as I enjoy a dance studio, my workout options are limited to dancing only.  Secondly, ZUMBA is recognized pretty much everywhere now.  I've worked at major fitness clubs now in Lexington and San Francisco.  It's easy to contact those clubs, and it's easy to track my popularity.  Saying that I was an instructor at a small, local studio that nobody has heard about doesn't hold the same weight.  Third, my typical class size for ZUMBA is 50+.  That's 50+ people that I'm actively help reach their fitness goals.  No matter how popular my dance class might be, 50+ wouldn't even fit in the studio. 

So, though I thoroughly support local businesses, I do not support fitness employers that don't let you work at more than one facility.  They have to recognize that they just don't pay enough and that we instructors don't really enjoy monotony.  I've held salsa classes in the living rooms of friends' houses, so of course I'd like to teach it.  Maybe another opportunity will come around.

Happy Dancing,

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Successful Auditions

Getting your first class can be quite difficult.  Heck, breaking into the industry in a different city after you've moved can be difficult.  However, I just had a successful series of auditions, landing me a class at Urban Active in Lexington, KY.  Here are some key points that I felt pushed me in front of any candidates that I may have been in contention with.

Passion & Skill
I'm not in the best shape.  In fact, I always wonder what people think when I walk in the door and claim that I'm a good dancer (especially now that I say I'm a licensed Zumba instructor).  I don't look like the person you imagine when you think 'good dancer' or 'fitness instructor'.  So, when given the opportunity to prove myself, I dance.  I dance hard!  My original Club One audition was mainly me attending a Zumba class with one of their elite instructors, and her just seeing how I move.  My ankle hurt a little, I was sweating like crazy, and I felt like everyone was watching me (the instructor announced that I was auditioning).  Regardless, I danced my butt off.

Nobody wants to hire you if you appear shy and seem uncomfortable, especially in regards to your skills.  They're going to depend on you to pull students in for them.  Don't write checks that your dancing can't cash, but don't underplay the amount of work you've put into yourself.  If you know that you can put together a solid routine and be comfortable to start teaching a class, then show it, and do whatever you can to achieve it.  Check your ego, don't be cocky, but being too humble doesn't really put you at the front of the pack, now does it?

I've got an active blog, an active Twitter account, an active Facebook page, an interesting Zumba profile, business cards that link all of my social media sites, and tons of ideas to use all of these to get and retain dancers!  I originally came into my BORP interview as a big ball of energy.  I had tons of ideas, I had good answers to the questions, and I could prove in a variety of ways how much time and effort I've been putting into this.

Sometimes things just have to swing your way.  My first, unsuccessful, audition was ruined when my interviewer was dealing with a sports injury and wouldn't be able to Zumba with me.  I was passed on for much more experienced fitness people, since I could only be based on experience and appearance.  On the other side, the Zumba instructor I auditioned for at Club One was also an ex-ballroom dancer, as shown in her moves, so I was able to keep up with her better than most other people that might attend her class for the first time.

Don't Get Discouraged
I have only been offered a job at about half of the auditions I've done.  To me, that's pretty good, but I can understand if people get discouraged when they're rejected.  Keep practicing.  Keep reaching out.  And keep trying.

Hope this helps anybody going through the same cycle right now.

Happy Dancing,