This month marks my fourth year of being a licensed Zumba® Fitness Instructor. See how happy (and, all right, slightly crazed) I looked on the day it became official?
The truth is, I'm still that happy. (Although not nearly that tan any more, but tanning isn't good for you, mmkay?)
I've come a long way from my very first class, during which I was in a total haze because I'd been too nervous to sleep the night before. I've taught through pregnancy and colds and unfortunate wardrobe malfunctions. I've met tons of new, wonderful, amazing people, and made lifelong friendships with people who have been with me from the beginning. And I was thinking the other day about the things I don't really tell them. I know a lot of fellow Zumba® instructors - and a lot of group fitness instructors in general, since I work at a gym - who feel the same way. So I put together a little list of the stuff we may not necessarily tell you ... or at least not often enough. :)
We definitely recognize you, even if we don’t remember your name. We make it a point to try and remember the names of as many people as we can – our entire classes, if possible – but with the volume of people that come in and out over time, it’s super-difficult. So if we mess up your name, please don’t think we’re huge, self-important jerks. We try … sincerely.
We like requests. Sometimes it’s hard for us to gauge which songs people are still crazy about, and which ones need to be retired for a while. When you request a certain song, it lets us know what you enjoy, and we’re all about making our classes happy! Similarly, don’t be afraid to tell us if there’s a song you don’t like. We can’t promise you’ll never hear it again, but at least we’ll know not to play it as much when you come to class. Constructive feedback is always welcomed.
We look to you when we forget stuff. Our brains are valuable databases where we store our routines – but sometimes there’s a glitch and we straight-up forget what comes next. Luckily, there’s always someone in the class who's got their stuff together better than we do (at least momentarily), and you remind us of the next move - so thanks!
We want you to make noise! If you’ve been to any group fitness classes, you know that some days are high-energy and some days aren’t. The secret to those high-energy days? NOISE. Enthusiasm. We’re having fun! It’s totally fine (welcomed and appreciated, even!) to throw in a “wooo!” or a “yeah!” or whatever exclamation comes to the surface. Those whoops and hollers let us know that you’re enjoying yourself, which in turn bolsters our confidence and energy levels. We all feed off of each other’s energy, so don’t hold back – because others will follow suit, and it’ll be a better class overall!
We’re genuinely glad to see you. We love a packed house. We love that, of all the things you could be doing, you chose to spend an hour with us. We love to see that you like our classes so much, you’ve brought someone along to share in the fun. We love that our classes foster friendships.
We appreciate good etiquette. As instructors, there’s little more frustrating than needing to make an announcement and feeling like you’re yelling into an abyss where nobody can hear you. It makes us happy when you’re comfortable enough to chat with each other before class, but – much like your teachers in school – we wish you’d give us your ears when we start talking.
We’re not critiquing your performance (and neither is anyone else!). There are two main goals in each Zumba® class: have fun, and keep moving. If you do those two things, who cares what you look like while doing them?! Besides, nobody’s even watching anyway – we’re all too focused on our own moves (instructors included!) to pay much attention to anybody else’s.
… But we do notice your progress. One of the great pleasures of being an instructor is seeing our “regulars” blossom. Maybe you started in the back of the room and have slowly gained the confidence to move up to the front row. Or maybe you’ve dropped some weight, or you’ve gone from shy, shrinking violet to the life of the party. We notice! And though we may not say anything, we’re so proud of your progress, and so happy to be a part of it.
We really don’t mind if you modify! Sometimes your hips just won’t move like your instructor’s do, or your knees protest when you squat. Or maybe you need a little extra “oomph” and want to make things a little more challenging. And that’s fine! Seriously, if there’s a move you can’t do, or don’t like, then don’t do it. Do something else instead, as long as it keeps your heart rate up. Don't worry about offending us by changing our moves. Because …
We’re inspired by you. Once in a while we’ll notice someone putting their own spin on a move and think, “That’s brilliant!” You come up with modifications that we’ve never thought of, and sometimes they’re better than the original choreography!
Bottom line: you make our lives better, and we benefit from your presence just as much as you benefit from ours! It's sooooo much more than just a good workout.
... But you already knew that, right?