Since the beginning of January, I have started teaching my own Zumba classes here in Brantford Ontario Canada. After being trained by the master of them all, Kelly Sloat from Art In Motion Dance Studio, I was encouraged greatly to pursue a dream of mine to get back into teaching fitness and become a Zumba Instructor. I obtained my certification license on December 2nd, 2011 and had the absolute highlight of my Zumba love fest when Kelly asked me to demo a song on Wednesday December 28th, 2011 at her studio. It was the calm before the storm.
I’m a massive Elvis fan. In fact I’m not just a fan, I’m downright eccentrically nuts about him. I’ve had quite the colorful life in the Elvis tribute artist world and profession and when it came time for me to choose my coming out song, I knew exactly where I was going to go, to the KING himself! So, while searching YouTube and my own memory bank I knew that it had to have a Latin feel and that meant Elvis’ movie, “Fun In Acapulco”. And THERE she was, the song and not just ANY song. It was THE song, Bossa Nova Baby. And much to my delight, there was a funkier techno revamped version of it, that just screamed “Zumba Baby, PICK ME”. So, with an Elvis dance moves career behind me and a definite knack for doing things outlandish, I put together a 3 minute in your face, high intensity, invigorating Elvis Zumba love routine. It blew the roof off of Art In Motion with the presentation to an outpouring of immediate smiles, enthusiasm, sweat, fun and accolades of “You Go Girl”.
And So It Began…
For the past few weeks I’ve been teaching Zumba at two locations here in Brantford. On Monday nights, I do a scaled down version of Zumba combined with what I call THINfit for my THINspiration weight loss crew. We do the basics of the dance moves and incorporate some old style 80s Aerobics while maintaining the fundamentals of Zumba and the music. The ladies LOVE it and are becoming quite well versed in the songs and movements and really jamming out to the Latin beats and the sexy moves. They are a high-spirited group of women who are there to educate themselves to lead healthier lives and gain some insights into how to enhance themselves through basic natural weight loss and exercise. I lead about 17-22 of them through their paces and we always have a great time.
Then, there’s my pilot project, which is my testing and launching pad called the Brantford Zumba Dance Party, which takes place on Wednesday nights. I took a chance on this class, as it was completely JUST Zumba for an hour, and at another dance facility here in town, called Harmony School for the Performing Arts and Academy of Dance. They had been looking to add Zumba into their itinerary and when I heard they were looking for a teacher, I cautiously applied to the job. I sent out word on Facebook and Twitter that I was starting this class, never really knowing exactly how many I was going to end up having on the dance floor. During our first week, we were overwhelmed with 26 women who just kept walking in and taking a spot on the dance floor. I knew a few but most of them were strangers who had heard through the cyber grapevine that I was leading a Zumba class and had come to be Zumbafied!
With a deep breath and a prayer I happily began teaching my official first Zumba class, totally cold turkey. No preps, no routines rehearsed (other than my Elvis one) and went by the seat of my pants and nobody was the wiser. When I looked out and saw the happy yet red faces staring back at me and the pleasant good-byes afterwards, I knew I had hit a grand slam. And what has transpired now is an up swell of the numbers growing in attendance, as word is getting out. That is cause for celebration and also caution due to the fact that while we’re happy where we are, it does look as if we might need to start looking for a gymnasium to house the bodies. Ah, the sweet realization of success.
Now this may not sound like anything particularly news worthy but just 18 months ago, the person teaching them Zumba use to weigh close to 300 pounds and couldn’t get through a 3 minute dance routine without heart palpitations and the onset of angina sweats. And what’s more paramount is that many of the women I am leading, are also embarking on their own individual health and wellness journeys and seeking validation and motivation through my plight and coming to me as a source of inspiration. “If SHE can do it, so can I.” And I LOVE it! I used to be one of them, I used to be the one that needed the push to get going and I found that from Kelly and Lauran at AIM. What a beautiful come full circle story that I can continue to pay it forward to these people by returning the favor to others. It’s an absolute tonic to be their “leader” and to offer a sense of encouragement and proof that you CAN turn your life around and make a change for the better. What a blessing for me to be up there leading them through Latin dance and funky rhythms while spurring them on with big eyes and a smile as large as Memphis itself.
My thoughts on my Zumba life are simple: Zumba for me equals “All sorts of fabulous characters combined together in joy and merriment and all there for one purpose; To Get Fit Through Dance.”