Back in August of 2009, I wrote about my Zumba experiment in which I decided to try my hand (and feet) at Zumba. My wife began teaching Zumba in September of 2009. I decided to attend all of her classes and have since grown quite fond of Zumba for a variety of reasons.
First of all, the experiment was a success. I am now licensed to teach Zumba, AquaZumba, and ZumbAtomic. My wife and I teach a few classes per week together. On the odd occasion, I take the lead myself, but it’s more fun when we’re both dancing.
Last night during a few songs, I made some mistakes and missteps in the choreography. As I was laughing at myself — and in one instance along with a lady who dances near me — I thought of how my reaction to those mistakes has changed over time. A year ago, I would experience a moment of frustration and throw my head back in irritation. Now, a mistake on my part brings a grin to my face and often laughter.
Why the difference? I have grown more comfortable with myself and have learned to relax when teaching Zumba. I’m no stranger to public speaking or being on stage, but when you are not a dancer (excepting the odd musical here and there throughout the years), leading others in a dance-based exercise program can be nerve-wracking until you let loose and enjoy the music and movement.
I believe that ZumbAtomic had a large role to play in my comfort-level while teaching Zumba, because kids are different from adults. Children have not experienced years of ingrained societal conformity, so they tend to express themselves more freely. They also interact more readily by asking questions about the dance steps or providing instant feedback to me about whether or not they enjoyed a song. This difference in behavior led me to understand that while we may feel like we are performing when others are around us, Zumba is not a performance. It is a conversation.
Many conversations: between you and your body, your body and the music, between me and you. Even so, I treat instructing Zumba as I would any other presentation. I project my voice and my demeanor, I keep a pace and control the tempo throughout, and I try to start and end strong and leave my audience wanting more. When I make a mistake in choreography, it’s now an opportunity to have a laugh, or to demonstrate my own unique style as well as learn and grow.
In the end, I suppose the experiment goes on, but no longer as an experiment — rather, as an experience. I’m in better shape than I’ve been since high school, but I can always improve. I am grateful that my wife decided to teach Zumba, and I love dancing with her and inspiring others to relax, dance, enjoy music, and improve their health.