Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What Makes a Great Zumba Instructor

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and other wonderful  instructors

Born as improvisation of a traditional aerobics class, Zumba dancing is practiced to a fun mix of Latin and international music. The concept of Zumba is to turn your workout into a party, and dance off your extra calories while having the time of your life. There is a variety of movements that you need to repeat after the instructor, but what you're really aiming at is to keep dancing and burning calories, even if you can't do it right at first.

The concept is wonderful; however, after I have taken different Zumba classes all over the city, I must say that not every class drew me in. Of course, a whole lot depends on the location and price, but most importantly, it is the instructor who makes us come back week after week for more, and in my opinion, the perfect Zumba instructor is someone who:

1. Is easy to follow. Zumba is very fast and intense, and at first, it's hard to keep up with an instructor, especially if it's all new to you. It is frustrating when you feel like you are always dragging behind the class. While everybody is jumping up and down, you're still getting your footwork right, and all you want to do is to never come back to the class. Therefore, it is awesome when the instructor constantly reminds you of what you're supposed to do and shows beforehand what the next dance will be like, or - even better - slows down at first and speeds up by the end of the song. This is crucial for the beginners, and is often the reason why they stay motivated throughout the class.

2. Is "all there." It is important to feel the positive energy and see that it is not only you who sweats the extra weight out. It helps when the instructor is also working it and is excited about the music and the moves. On the contrary, if the instructor plays with her hair putting it up and down throughout the whole class, starts the class late, or lets the class go early all the time, you feel that she (or he) is not fully there with you.

3. Doesn't encourage long pauses. You are always allowed to drink water or take breaks whenever you wish if you feel that the workout is too much for you; however, you don't want to be left hanging while the instructor is searching for the next single. It breaks down the workout for those who are not new and want to push themselves even harder. It is even worse when you're asked, "What are you guys want to do next?" Most people come to Zumba to do what they are showed to do, and questions like these frustrate people, and not only the new ones.

4. Is in tune with everyone. Sometimes when there are lots of people in the class, it becomes difficult to see the instructor and to perform well. It is amazing when the instructor catches that and moves around to help people get back on track. Sometimes there's only one person, who is totally lost, and if it's you, you definitely appreciate when the instructor comes around and assists you.

5. Keeps it simple. Some people are better dancers than others, so if the choreography is too difficult, those who have two left feet are likely to give up on Zumba and never come back to the class. If one song is more difficult than the other, that's fine, as long as the whole class doesn't feel like a ballet rehearsal to the newbies.

6. Leaves you with sore muscles. When you work out and don't feel sore, you probably didn't push yourself hard enough. Zumba is a very intense kind of exercise, and it should leave you with some minor muscle pain, and good instructors will make sure that your whole body is working.

7.And finally, you know you had a great instructor if the last song came as a surprise. You don't want to suffer through the class and long for it to end. You want to have fun and make the best of it, so if it feels like an hour lasts a week, you should probably look for another class.

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