Sunday, October 6, 2013

The new comfort zone

A good friend of mine, who also has a blog, wrote a post this past week entitled Outside My Comfort Zone. You can read it for yourself, but I'll give you one of the main highlights. She took a Zumba class for the first time. Her birthday was the end of September and someone...okay, I admit it was her a Zumba class as present. If you read her whole post, that "Zumba fiend" she refers to is yours truly. Heh. While the experience might have initially been out of her comfort zone, she enjoyed herself very much and bought herself more classes. Welcome to the Zumbaholic's club Tay! We've been waiting for you.

My friend lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. So finding a place and paying for a class took some planning. Here's where I'm going to plug Zumba's website a little (not a compensated endorser, just a Zumba fiend). They have a page where you can look up classes in any given area by entering a zip code (postal code for the Canadians). Then it will give you all the classes in that area starting with the closest, and you can limit the search by miles (kilometers for the Canadians) up to 100. You can also limit the search by days of the week and the specific type of Zumba class you're interested in. Knowing where my friend lives, I plugged in her postal code and found the classes closest to her. But I wasn't just looking for proximity. She's a very busy and successful realtor so her schedule is fairly tight. The studio I wound up choosing, and calling long distance from Michigan, had a wide variety of days and times available. I know for me personally, there is very very (-very-) little that I'll let interfere with my scheduled Zumba class; family illness being the main thing. But that is after having done Zumba for some time, I didn't start out that way. The truth is, exercise is always easier to commit to and stick with if it's easy to go to in the first place. In my case, I started out with a Saturday morning class and my husband made it easy for me to go by making sure our son was taken care of. The studio was only fifteen minutes from where we lived at the time, so that made it easy. The classes were inexpensive (they still are but were only $5 back then), and that made it easy. Easy is the key word here. Exercise can be a challenge for people all by itself, and if it's an inconvenience to even go to the class in the first place, people just won't bother. Group exercise in particular, and not just Zumba, can be out of a lot of people's comfort zones just because of the crowd. I know this from my own experience, so I took all that into consideration when shopping for my friend's birthday. Basically, I wanted to make it as easy as possible for her to enjoy the gift.

On the subject of birthdays and comfort zones... Back at the end of August, I wrote a couple of posts about what I received from my family as birthday gifts (all Zumba related), and in the second of these posts, I told you, dear readers, that Bry had gotten me something really great on behalf of him and our boys. But I never said what that was exactly...

For a long while now, the idea of becoming a certified instructor has kicked around in my brain, down in the dark recesses. This idea came to me after I'd been doing Zumba for about six months, so...over three years ago by now. It's something I thought would be fun, that I thought maaaybeee I could do. Okay, to clarify, I figured I could -do- it...but actually be good at it? I just didn't know. Quite frankly, I was afraid for a couple of reasons. One was, what if I paid $225 to become a certified instructor and I turned out not to be any good? I didn't want to waste the money. Two, was that I also didn't want to waste my time and thus be forced to face the possibility that I sucked at something I loved so much. Delusions of grandeur? Hrmm. There is a very long road between being a teacher's freak good student and being some students' good instructor. Well, at least it's seemed like a long road for me; maybe not for others.
Bry and our boys bought me a certification class for my birthday. The last Saturday in October, I am going to spend the day taking a master class and I fully intended to come away with a license to teach Zumba Basic 1. This has been more than three years in the making for me. Definitely something outside my comfort zone. I've spent the past two and half months getting used to the idea that I can really do this, and by that I mean that I might actually be good at it. The motivation at the left is absolutely true. Not a day has gone by in the last 3.5+ years that I don't think about Zumba in some way, shape, or form. The only other thing I can say that about, is Bry and our boys. I had talked about the possibility of certification for some time, Bry knew it was something that I wanted, something that I'd slowly been working up the confidence to say, "Now. Now is the time." Bry also knew that I had reached that point and that I had started looking into certification classes. So, he surprised me the morning of my birthday. What a guy. Initially, I was really excited and grateful for such a thoughtful gift; I felt really supported by my family. All that's still true, but after about two days of letting it sink in, I went though a phase of: "Holy smokes, stuff just got really real!! What am I doing?!" In my head, I was using a different word than "stuff". If you know me, or have been reading from the beginning, you know that I tend to have freak-outs during times of change. Like that time the DSW stopped carrying my specific style of Zumba shoes...? Luckily for me, I have people in my life, family and good friends who, for whatever reason, seem able -and- willing to deal with me and my freaky self. (Thanks by the way...)

Me: Stuff just got really real!
Friend: This is what you wanted!
Me: I know! I know...

So even though I finally was at a place in my life where I felt ready for this, I was still overwhelmed by it. I got past it though. I managed to convince a couple of friends to come to my house so I could practice trying to teach. My first test subject... conscript... volunteer was a very good sport. I don't know where my head was at that day. Even knowing that she had very little Zumba experience and knowing that what experience she did have was over two years old, it still took me three songs to actually start directing. I am so used to just doing, without thinking about how it's going for anyone else. That's fine if you're a student, not so fine if you're supposed to be instructing. I managed a little better after that, but I was late on pretty much all my directions. A lot of room for improvement there. In spite of that, we both had a good time. I did a bit better job directing my second volunteer. In between, I decided I should practice the actual cuing even if it meant I was directing no one and talking to myself. That by the way is kind of weird, so I try to imagine a class instead. I figure that pretending I have people with me is less weird somehow. In any event, the take-away from my practice session with my first volunteer was that I have to cue the moment -before-, not the moment of. Aha. Got it. What's amazing to me is how different Zumba can be when you're the one in charge. The respect I have for what both Jae and Rae can do, the way they handle their classes, is even more now that I have a better understanding of how challenging it can be.

The quote from Mr. Bill Cosby that you see up to the right, bottom-lines it perfectly. I've had almost a month and a half to settle into the idea and I'm ready to own it. I've even gone so far as to make plans for the new year. I've spoken to the pastor at my church, we had a meeting, I gave her my proposal, and the response was an enthusiastic yes. Starting in January, I'm going to have my own class. I want that more than I'm afraid of it. The truth is, my comfort zone has expanded to include this new version of me - The ZIN version of me. 

Best advice: Re-read the motivation quotes. I think just about everyone has something in their life this could apply to. Think about what yours might be, maybe it's time.


  1. Hi there! I was actually starting at one of your first posts, liked it and worked my way up until this one. The whole time I was thinking 'why isn't she thinking about becoming an instructor?' You're clearly in love with Zumba and are willing and able to share your enthusiasm :) so go you!
    I'm curious now to read how it all turned out!
    And in case you're checking your blog's stats: the high number of views from Austria? - that would be me :-)
    Thanks for sharing your story!

    1. Hi Sandra! Thanks so much reading. It's a little amazing to me to know that my blog is so international. ;) And your welcome. Sharing my own experiences is probably one of the biggest reasons why I decided to start this blog in the first place. I wrote about my B1 day because I really couldn't find anyone else who'd written about theirs.

      It took me a long time to find myself in a place where I was personally ready to be an instructor. If you've read past this post to the very next one, dealing with loss is a big part of what finally pushed me to go get a license. A lot of it too was finally believing that my own skill had increased enough to the point that I felt I could live up to the standard set by my two friends. ;)

      I hope life is great over in Austria. :) I take it, from the fact that you're reading my blog, that you are also into Zumba. Are you an instructor too?

  2. You're right, I'm into Zumba - quite obsessed really, but not an instructor. I started last October and was lucky enough to have an awesome instructor, happy, enthusiastic, a great dancer and ... a guy :-) (bonus: he's easy on the eyes too ;-) )
    I got the kinect games as well and a DVD, and I try to get two sessions in each week. I just love what it does to my body and my mind - it's a great stress reliever that's for sure.
    As I love it this much I actually was thinking about becoming an instructor, but I don't think I'm up to the challenge of teaching. I'll just enjoy the classes and being a front row diva (the good kind I hope) for the time being.

    1. You sound like me two years ago. ;)

      Times change, circumstances change and then you find yourself doing the exact thing you thought you'd never be good enough to do.

      If you really think someday you might want a license, have a friend come over and teach in your house. Just to get the feel for leading songs.

      Honestly, there were days I had serious doubts about whether I'd actually use my B1 or if it was just a stepping stone to another license. About three or maybe four years ago, you didn't have to have B1 (or Gold) first in order to get the specialty licenses like Kids (back then it was Atomic) or Aqua. Then before I could go get a Kids/Kids Jr. license, that policy changed to what it is now. There was a point where I thought I might obtain B1 just get me to where I could go for Kids, but... Here I am. I love it waaay more than I would have thought back then. I'm much better at than I thought I was going to be. As good as my two friends? Not yet. But apparently I have learned more than I thought from them, not just in the choreo department, but in how to teach.