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  • Writer's picturekatiemovestaipei

Surprise Yourself!

Carolyn's Must Read

Student Spotlight

When was the last time you surprised yourself? A time when you took a step to do something outside of your comfort zone that left you feeling amazed and proud of what you were able to accomplish?

This was exactly the topic of conversation when I sat down with one of my private clients, Carolyn, last week for a Student Spotlight interview! Carolyn and I have been dancing together over the past 2 years -- a time that has flown by with all the shaking, sweating, laughter, silliness and fun we have fit into each lesson. This interview was especially meaningful as it gave us the opportunity to reflect on her dance journey and out time together as she prepares to repatriate soon to the US (😭).

You know how much I enjoy sharing my thoughts on dance, but there is really nothing like hearing about the experiences of a student in their own words. I know there is so much of Carolyn's story that will resonate with many in our community!

K: Many people start to join Zumba because they love dance. What first attracted you to the class?
C: I don’t have a dance background-- actually I think I’m pretty uncoordinated! However, I do have a musical background and played violin both amateurly and professionally. I have many musically talented people in my family and I feel like music is the soundtrack to my life! I didn't have any formal dance experience, but I have always liked going out dancing. I loved going to high school dances and even though I never thought I was a particularly good dancer, I always enjoyed myself.

K: How did you hear about Zumba then?
C: I knew about Zumba from when I was living in Singapore. One time when I had gone to the Chingay parade I noticed miles of people dancing and wearing crazy clothes. What caught my eye was how happy everyone looked! Still, I had never tried a class. I actually have a huge streak of shyness and I’m not one who likes group classes.
Fast forward to moving to Taipei. A friend of mine had started to go to your Zumba classes in Taipei during the pandemic and I saw what it did for my friend. He had a better attitude, he was full of energy , and was just having so much fun . So I finally thought ok, let's give this a try. I heard you were doing private lessons so I contacted you and the rest is history!

K: What has having a private class been like for you?
C: I surprise myself every class . I feel accomplished every time and thousands of times better after class . From getting to know you as a teacher and understanding your hand gestures, I was surprised how quickly I could catch on and that it wasn't as hard as I had thought it would be. Getting that chance to sweat and having you focus on my own goals like improving my shoulder movements and balance has been wonderful. I always have such a great time! It makes me think I might give group classes a chance when I am back in the US!

K: I love having the chance to really connect with my private clients. After class I like to ask clients to report what they are proud of - it’s not easy for people to do often. But I love how much you always share with me during and after class!
C: Private classes have been so good for me. I had never been one to like group activities in the past. I was sure I would focus on the people around me . But actually, after awhile of dancing 1-on-1, we had some group lessons with my husband and our friends . I found when I did them I didn’t even notice others around me. I was too focused on myself and on you. It’s like when I played in the orchestra—I just played and didn’t notice the audience until the end of the performance. I noticed no one really cares about your movements in a group class- they are too busy having fun!

K: Your face is something I love to watch during class! You make the best expressions when you are concentrating, being silly and having fun!
What are some of your favorite styles we’ve done in class?
C: I always really enjoy the Latin music— it reminds me of some experiences when I was younger and had danced salsa with a partner. I really love the 70s + 80s songs we do. It’s so fun to bring back those memories of school dances and concerts I went to. When you’ve done special themed classes with music, it always brings a smile to my face!

K: From you giving me feedback about what you like to do in class, it really helped me to improve my private classes. Especially with creating specific playlists and personalizing the classes for clients! I love teaching big group classes of course, but there is something special about working with an individual and seeing their progress.
C: With Zumba I may be sitting before class and thinking I don’t want to do anything , I’ve got too much on my mind! But I see your face , your smile , we start and before I know it I’m sweating buckets, having so, so much fun and then class is over! I always feel refreshed and ready to tackle whatever else is in my day or bugging me. It’s like I moved on and whatever I was worried about is not a big deal anymore. It has really helped me not just physically but mentally. Especially with my move back to the US it’s been so important. I tell myself I need this break . It’s like instantly I see your face and it’s a reset. Nothing else I had done had been like that, only when I do hand mending or adult coloring books to relax. Sometimes you struggle to turn off your brain or to sleep at night but the night after I do a Zumba class, I know I am just going to have a good night of sleep . It’s so fun doing something I wasn’t sure about.

K: How do you keep yourself motivated and sticking with the class? Is it the routine? Self motivation? Prepaying for the classes and setting the time?
C: Investing in private classes and knowing you are coming to my house helps to keep me accountable. We all know with gym memberships, it can be hard to follow through. While I like motivating others, it’s hard to motivate myself. So initially I had paid and didn’t want to let you down, then I found how much I enjoyed class and it was like the weight of motivating myself had been lifted off my shoulders.

K: You talked about your friend who got you interested in Zumba and the changes you saw in him- what changes have you felt overall through the course of doing these classes?
C: It’s given me more confidence to do what I want to do and not worry as much what people think! Some of that comes with age, but many people say they don’t care, but do they really FEEL it? I know you don’t judge me in class, but now I’m ok with if I get the moves or not. Either way, I’m still moving which is more than some can say! Also, when I go out, I just get out on the dance floor without caring too!
I feel like I’m more comfortable inhabiting my body . I’ve become stronger and feel more confident about my body. I’ve worked hard to slowly lose weight, and having it enhanced by dance - it just makes it easier to feel great moving and to stick to being more active. Even on my last trip to the US I found I was looking for chances to move more and I left less out of shape. Just once a week has really impacted me !

K: What advice would you have for people who are considering getting started with Zumba in a group or private class?
C: I would say, if they try something out of their comfort zone, they would surprise themselves. I know I did. Do something for yourself. You don’t need to be perfect . You don’t need the perfect outfit or gear to join . It’s what you put in that matters. And even if you can’t put much in some days, it’s ok because you are doing something . In some ways it’s a very freeing experience because you do just leave everything else behind when you go to class. And then after class any of the "stuff" you pick up again feels less heavy . Or you realize some of what you are "carrying around" you actually don’t need to worry about at all.

A massive thank you to Carolyn for taking the time to share her thoughts with all of us! It's incredibly touching to hear about the positive impact joyful movement has brought to her life in only a short time! It's always bittersweet when friends and students move away (that's expat life for ya!), but there's no doubt that the bonds between friends, and teachers and students carry into the next stages of our lives!

I love private classes because of the mutual respect, commitment, and communication that is able to built as we tailor classes to meet a client's goals. Whether it's working 1-on-1 or with a small private group class, a more personalized experience leads many to surprise themselves with amazing progress. If you are looking to get started on your joyful movement journey and a private class interests you, I encourage you to take a look here and reach out if you think we might be a good fit!

Have a wonderful week!



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