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FAQ

Here are some questions I get pretty frequently. Most of them are about Zumba class. Hope they help you out.

1. What shoes should I wear to Zumba class?
I write pretty frequently about shoes. If I find a pair I like, I'll talk about. But the thing about shoes that kind of stinks [enter foot-odor joke here] is that no one shoe is right for everyone. You have to find what works for you.

First off, understand that you may have to drop some considerable bucks on a decent pair of sneakers. It's one thing to wear your crummy old running sneakers or some cheap Target kicks if you're only taking a class here and there. I don't recommend it, but you won't kill yourself. It's another to be taking Zumba classes or any other fitness class three to five times a week in something like that. The money you lay down for a good pair of quality sneakers now will save you from having to repair a torn knee or twisted ankle or fallen arch later.

Look for a cross-training sneaker. If you're new to buying sneakers, go to a place that just sells sneakers, like Foot Locker and Lady Foot Locker, and tell the sales person what you need the sneakers for. You need something that gives you proper support and cushioning while allowing you to pivot on the gym floor.

Pick up the sneaker and look at the bottom.




If it's got a spin spot on the ball of the foot, and maybe one on the heel of the foot, that's good. If it's got tread that allows you to move and pivot and turn, that's good. But if it's got chevron-shaped tread or anything else that looks like it's designed to propel you in a forward motion, that's bad. That's a running or walking sneaker and, while great for running or walking, it is bad for Zumba. Or any other group exercise class. Except, maybe, group running.




Do you like my drawing? I know you do.

And a word about those instability shoes. You know the ones I mean. Those ones that are supposed to tone and lift your buns while you walk? because they make you instable? Let me rephrase that, and as I do, keep in mind that we're discussing shoes that are suitable for Zumba class. OK: the shoes that lift your buns while you walk because they make you unstable. Now, some of you understand where my stance on these shoes must be, but for the rest of you: Do not use those shoes in my class. They are not designed to be worn in Zumba class, or any other exercise class that I can think of. Wearing those shoes to class is like begging for a twisted ankle or a broken hip or something equally dreadful. They are meant for walking, and yes, there are some for running. Never do you see these shoes advertised as something you should wear for a group ex class. And it's a good thing. Cuz I'd have to knock some heads.

2. Where do you get your music?
When you take a workshop to be licensed to teach Zumba, you have the option to join ZIN. That's the Zumba Instructor Network. If you are thinking of becoming an instructor, I highly recommend joining. You pay for it, but you get a lot for it too. It's an investment in yourself as an instructor. Anyway, every month, we ZIN members get a cd with 9 or 10 songs. They add up pretty quickly.

The Zumba instructor message board is another great tool for finding new music. People find a song they love, and they go on the message board to tell everyone else about it. Then, when I go to iTunes to download a song I've heard about, there are always recommendations that pop up, telling me that if I liked that song, I'm probably going to like this song too. Sometimes iTunes is right. Sometimes I'm not sure what it's thinking. But usually it's right. Much to the chagrin of my husband, who occasionally walks around the house, scratching his head and holding the bank statement, and saying things like, "You spent how much on music this month??"

And I watch a lot of SYTYCD.

3. How do you move your hips/butt/body/whatever like that??
One of the things I am most amused by is how people seem to think I've always been able to move like I can now. Another is how, if they think I can move, they should see some of my fellow instructors. I tell people that a lot of the movement is:
a) mental: you have to get over the part of you that is reminding yourself that the people in back of you have to watch your jiggly parts if you start moving like that. The reality is that everyone else is either having so much fun or so concerned about their own jiggly parts that no one--I swear!--is going to care about yours. In class one of my goals is to get people to move with the flavor of the music, and enjoy the music so much that they can't help themselves. I want you to own those moves and be proud of what jiggles! I'm not joking! Watch me in class. I used to hold it all in too. But now? I jiggle. Try it!
b) learned: We walk around all the time with our hips and tailbone tucked firmly under our shoulders, doing our best from moving anything down there too much for fear of something...moving...in a way that might gross someone out or turn the wrong people on. You know. And then we get to work and we hunch over our desks. And then we get in the car and we slouch in the seats. This does crazy stuff to our muscles and our spines, and we forget how to move. We have to relearn. We have to practice. Pretty soon your muscles will get used to the new movements and suddenly you'll do a move that always gave you trouble and you'll stop in the middle of class and go, "OMG! I just wiggled/waggled/shimmied/body rolled!!"  And I will be up front, smiling cuz I saw you do it and I'm all proud.
c) in the knees. Seriously. Stand up. Stop locking your knees. Bend 'em a little. Really--you'll pass out if you keep standing there like that. Now lift one heel and bring it back to the floor. Do the other one. Do the first one. Keep going back and forth. Keep those knees bent. Go a little faster. Are your hips moving? Loosen up. Are they moving now? Good! Keep practicing.
3. How can I become an instructor?
If you are serious about wanting to become an instructor, please come talk to me. I'd love to help you. For now, here is some general knowledge:
Get schooled. Get certified in first aid, and in CPR/AED. Remember to recertify. Not only will no one hire you without these certs in place, but they're part of being a responsible instructor. Look into getting a group exercise certification. The major certifying bodies in the US are ACE and AFAA. You can find other group ex certs, but most gyms want one of these. It will be difficult getting hired without this cert, but again, it is part of being a responsible, quality instructor. Let me warn you: if you are new to this stuff, like I was, it will be difficult to learn. But very very worth it! Please send me a message anytime you want to ask me about it, tell me how it went if you took it, or rant and curse and sweat and rave about it. The closest I've ever come to having a nervous breakdown was studying for that AFAA test. 
Go to http://www.zumba.com/ and click on "Instructor Training". Find a training in your area. Sign up fast; the next time you look for it, it will be sold out. Go. Enjoy. Learn. Take notes. Have fun. Network--you'll keep running into a lot of the same people as you go through your Zumba adventure. I suggest you do this step after the step above it, because trust me--you're going to come out of that Zumba instructor training absolutely needing to teach right now. And in the training, you'll learn about where to look for jobs. So you want to be hireable already.

Practice, practice, practice.
4. I can't dance! I'm not co-ordinated! I have two left feet!
I love when people tell me this. Because this is how it goes: the first class they try is kind of rough, no joke. But they're smiling, so they come back. The second class is slightly better. At least they're moving in the same direction as everyone else. By the third class, they understand that most of the songs are the same and I'm not going to spring some crazy move in a routine they've done twice before. They start to let go. By the fourth class they're feeling the music, smiling, laughing, and sweating. It's all play from there. I love it. I wish more people who thought they couldn't dance would just give themselves that one class to fall in love.