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,