Monday, November 19, 2012

Thoughts From A Newbie Zumba Instructor

When Tina convinced me to take my first Zumba class in August of 2011, I had no idea what to expect. I went to class feeling nervous and awkward. I made it through the first class despite having two left feet and being completely incapable of understanding the single-single-double moves. My then shortcomings didn't stop me though; I'd had so much fun in spite of them, that I knew I would go back.

About a year later, I had become so enamored of Zumba and inspired by my instructor, Elena, that I decided I wanted to teach Zumba too. It was relatively easy to become an instructor; You simply take the Zumba Basic 1 class and receive your certification.

Starting your own class and teaching it? That's the hard part. It requires dedication, practice and an ability to critically analyze what's working and what isn't. It requires you to learn the most natural way for you to cue the dances to your students. I've certainly gained a different perspective over the last couple of months and have even more respect for Elena. She works hard to teach four classes a week and still keep it fun, fresh and easy to follow!

I've only been teaching a small class of three for a couple of months now, but I'd like to share a few of my observations. I think they'll help anyone who wants to teach Zumba or maybe even just take a class.

If you are nervous about messing up, you're going to mess up.
It's funny to me because this statement can be applied to so many other aspects of my life. My first couple classes, I worked myself into such a nervous wreck that I messed up a song that I've known how to do for well over a year and could hardly cue at all. I've learned that I just have to let go (a little!) from my perfectionist qualities and relax. I teach a far better class that way. Plus, I have more fun teaching that way and that's really why I wanted to teach Zumba in the first place.

Cuing is different for everyone.
Trying to find what feels most comfortable to me and makes the most sense to my students for cues has been interesting. It's definitely a work in progress right now. I've been trying on other instructors' cue styles and sometimes it fits, e.g. leg slaps to signal which leg to use for the move. Sometimes it doesn't though, such as tapping yourself on the head to signal from the top generally results in me hitting myself a little too hard. On top of that, I still haven't found the best way to signal transitions to new movements but each class I teach, the closer I feel to finding my style.

Dressing the part can help.
I used to be a part of the former Toastmaster's club at my workplace. On the days when I gave speeches, I made sure that I dressed up and looked professional. For me, dressing the part of what you're intending to do has always helped boost my confidence just a little bit. It only seemed natural for me to obtain a piece of Zumbawear that said instructor on it.

Have you tried Zumba? Did you find it intimidating or did you love it?