Quite a bit actually.
Several years ago, I decided to ramp up my exercise and tried Zumba. It took me quite a while to get with the program, so to speak, as participants are not “taught” the dance moves – you just follow the instructor’s moves. I was WAY out of my comfort zone with this, despite the fact that the instructors don’t expect you to follow along perfectly; they just want you to have fun and get fit in the process.
Eventually I became more comfortable with the challenge of following the different dance moves and routines offered by various Zumba instructors. It’s great to get away from my office and enjoy the loud music, the camaraderie in class, and exercising my body as well as my brain.
I take an average of three Zumba classes a week. Observing different instructors and listening to feedback from attendees, I began to analyze the instructors’ approaches to teaching Zumba and rapport with their classes. The best and most popular instructors share these characteristics:
- A passion for doing and teaching Zumba.
- Smiling and making lots of eye contact.
- “Connecting” with attendees by facing the class as much, if not more, than they face the mirror; also periodically moving away from the mirror/front of the class and dancing among the attendees.
- Making the dance moves easy to follow with clear hand signals, verbal cues, and repetitive steps.
- Encouraging fun and fitness while reinforcing attendees’ participation throughout the class in ways that are most comfortable for them; no one is ever made to feel inept.
- Preparing for each class by practicing the routines and learning/demonstrating new ones to mix things up a bit.
I recently spent time outside of class with Gladys Colon, one of the more popular instructors, to talk about her experience teaching Zumba. I also wanted to let her know how much I enjoyed her class. The more we talked, the more I realized we had much in common as instructors even though our classes are so very different: she teaches Zumba fitness in a gym and I teach marketing workshops in a corporate business setting.
Here’s what we have in common. We both practice as much as possible – regardless of how well we know our subject matter. We intentionally engage our attendees without overwhelming them. We work hard to ensure the people in our classes feel the time they spend with us is worthwhile. Above all, we both share a passion for what we do — whether it’s energizing people through cardio or helping them broaden their marketing acumen.
In what unlikely places do you find professional inspiration?
[With special thanks to my favorite instructors Gladys Colon, Tarnisha “Moe” Sass, Manny Balseiro and Krista Cernansky … you all rock!]