Ten Lessons I’ve Learned From my Decade As a Zumba Instructor
Celebrate with Me!
In June of 2013 I walked into my Zumba instructor training with few expectations and a lot of nerves. I knew I enjoyed Zumba from the party-like classes I had taken with amazing instructors in Taipei. But as someone who would still get serious bouts of shyness, would I feel confident enough to lead others? How would I ever remember the dance moves? Would I feel like an outsider and totally lost in the Taiwan Zumba scene and this training with my limited Chinese?
I bounced out of my first Zumba Basic 1 Training with a wide smile, bright eyes and even brighter Zumbawear. I had had a blast, and although I still had some serious doubts about my abilities, I figured it didn’t much matter— at most maybe I could teach a few friends and classmates since our instructor had moved back to Europe. I’d mostly be dancing alone in my bedroom, distracting myself from a recent heartbreak and looking for a hobby to thrown myself into.
How wrong I was! 😅
The past decade has been SO incredibly different than I could have ever dreamed of! Teaching Zumba mended my heart and caused it to expand and to beat to a new rhythm all together! Zumba made it possible to change careers, start my own business, travel to different countries, be welcomed into others instructors’ homes as if I’m family, dance with people from all walks on life one-on-one or in groups of thousands, be featured in magazines, TV and an online home fitness channel and so much more! Still, I think the biggest changes have been how different I feel on the inside—the confidence, joy, connection, and knowledge that has grown through my experiences.
So, in honor of my 10 Year ZINniversary( Zumba Instructor Network) I want to share 10 things I’ve learned through my decade of teaching Zumba! Lessons that I’ve taken from the dancefloor into other areas of my life.
1. Movement is medicine. Feel tired, sad, or angry? Moving can turn most of my bad moods around in record time. Movement brings us back to the present moment and nearly always gives us a respite from the pressures and worries of everyday life.
2. Dance unites. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a dance together is worth a million. Dance can allow us to interact with others regardless of language, background or social status. It communicates our shared humanity reminding us that we have more in common with others than we may have thought.
3. You can do more than you think! Our schedules are busy , uncontrollable events occur, a pandemic hit us and our in-person classes came to a screeching halt. But there are usually ways to adapt, to do something minuscule like even 5 minutes of movement, to switch to online classes, and to just show up for yourself.
4. Great leaders help others shine. When I first started teaching I thought I had to impress my students with how well I could perform complicated moves. Not true! Being a good instructor, teacher or leader is about helping people bring out the best in themselves, not showing off!
5. Even passions have their pitfalls. Doing what you love, whether it’s a hobby, an activity like your favorite sport, or in my case my job, sounds like perfection- but it doesn’t mean you are immune to burnout. Rest, pursing other interests, and trying new activities are all necessary to keep things healthy, sustainable and fresh.
6. Comparison causes missteps. Metaphorically this is true, but also quite literally. When I’ve taken a class and have focused on another student or the teacher’s moves, or have critiqued my body next to someone else’s, I’m sure to lose my concentration and trip up. Comparing yourself to others in real life or on social media wastes time and energy that can be better used.
7. Don’t let mistakes stop you! I flub new routines all the time. Messing up used to make me want to melt into the floor. But , guess what? More than half the time time no one notices when you screw up but yourself. The rest of the time I pull a funny face and we all have a laugh together. As they say in Zumba- mistakes are just accidental solos!
8. Community is key. As deeply personal as dancing can be for me, there’s no doubt in my mind that something magical happens when many people come together, especially to step in time. Having a community makes you feel supported and keeps you going in the moments when you think you can’t go on. I love our community!
9. Embrace your own style. Perfection or one way of living is just not possible— so you might as well be brave, be vulnerable, and be you! My samba moves will never rival a Brazilian’s. I’m not the right match for every student and vice versa. But when I’m being myself on the dancefloor, the smiles, pure joy, and authenticity radiate out and touch the people they are meant to!
10. Zumba really IS for anyone. Two left feet-ers, young , old, differently abled , celebrities, CEOs, government officials, moms, husbands, students and more, ALL levels have danced in a Zumba class with me. If they can, so can YOU!
A huge heartfelt thank you for being a part of my Zumba journey these past 10 years! We’ve created some incredible memories together, danced to countless songs, made it through a pandemic and are still moving and shaking!
Don’t forget you can help me celebrate this Thursday (tomorrow) by joining our monthly livestream party class where I’ll be dancing to my favorite songs from the past decade!
Looking forward to seeing what the next decade of dancing together has in store for us!