Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Studio To Street Collection - Part 2: Accessories
At first I was going to continue my post series with the shirts...the amazingly high number of shirts...but I started with pants just to mix it up so I changed my mind and decided to go with accessories for Part 2. Hardly a hardship, I love accessories. That wasn't always true. Well, let me qualify that. It wasn't always true as it pertains to Zumba. There was a time, not all that long ago, that I was almost completely utilitarian when it came to exercise and fitness. Plain black hair elastics and clips, and no bracelets. It's been about a year since my "great color overhaul" that started with my orange/pink Rhythm Rocker shirt (still my favorite today) and spread from there down to pants and shoes, up to hair, and out to wrists. Honestly, I can't remember the last time I went to Zumba without at least one bracelet on.

People who know me personally know that I'm something of a bag hound. I think most women have at least one (most often more than one) accessory that they have a lot of. I know you dear readers know exactly what I'm talking about...admit it. Either you are a woman with a stash of something, or you're guy who knows a woman with a stash of something. Heck, maybe you're a guy who has his own stash of something like belts or ties. I really shouldn't stereotype. For my grandmother, it was shoes and hats. Seriously, hats. Hey, it was the 40's and 50's and dressy hats were a thing. For my mother, it was scarves and earrings. For me, it's bags and bracelets. That's always been true of every-day wear, but has translated to Zumba as well, and much better than I would have thought.

When I'm buying new Z-Wear, I always check the accessories that are designed to go with the collection. Zumba is great for reusing a few colors from collection to collection so that accessories you bought previously will, a lot of times, match your new stuff. I like that a lot because it stretches your dollar. One thing I've been keeping an eye out for is headbands. I was a bit disappointed to find that there aren't any currently in the shop made to go with the new spring collection. I'm hoping that will change as Zumba releases more items. I really like the wide cloth headbands because they hold my glasses on well. I use glasses for distance you see. I know...not one of the pictures of me on this blog shows that... I don't wear them generally day to day. But I discovered something the day I went to B1 training...when you're four rows back from a teacher you've never had class with before, you need to be able to see detail. I wound up wearing my glasses for most of B1 but they were wobbly because I didn't have a good way to keep them on. Enter the headband. If I am learning new choreography from the DVD's that Zumba sends me, I need my glasses to see or I miss too much. From that, I made the following connection: If this is true of me with a DVD set up on my laptop a few feet away, it's definitely going to be true of me with an actual class teaching people farther away than three feet. Yay headbands!

***Side note: I don't wear my glasses when I take class from Jae or Rae. I don't need to. I'm so used to their individual styles that I can pick up on subtleties without wearing them.***

So no headbands (yet). What -is- there? I'll stop rambling and we'll take a look.

There are always always bracelets. are the Bells Of The Ball bracelets. They come in an 8-pack so what you see here to the left and right are sold together. As always, this type of bracelet is 100% silicone and latex free. I'm personally not too crazy about the bells. I much prefer the plain kind. I find jingly noise incredibly distracting. And if that's true for me, it's probably true of my classmates or students too. The other thing about this set that I'm not wild about is the pastel colors. Up on the left, the two bottom bracelets are an odd shade of blue (or is that purple?) and an odd shade of pink respectively. If I were to buy this 8-pack, the reality is that it would be 6-pack since it comes with two bracelets I can't match to anything I already own. Further, I wouldn't buy anything new in either shade so they'd never match to anything.

The Can't Touch This Charm Bracelets. They come together as a 3-pack so you don't have to agonize over which color to get. Personally, I love the pink one best. I also think the charms are adorable. I'll admit it, I'm thinking about these... These are also 100% silicone and latex free. There's no better bracelet for Zumba than one made out of material like that. They are flexible and light and it's unlikely that they'll break after just one class (my poor metal bangles...they were never the same again).

The bracelets' more practical cousin. come in a 2-pack so you get a white one and a black one. The pair on the left is the Sweat My Wristbands in "Zumba Green" (referring to the stripe and logo). These are also available in "Positively Pinktronic" (on the right). I'm totally not making that up, that's really what the color is named. Only Zumba can get away with a word like "Pinktronic"... These are terrycloth and 100% cotton. Not my choice of wrist-wear. These kinds of wristbands are usually fairly snug and I'm not a fan of that feeling on my arm. I like my bracelets to slide a little. Plus, even though they've got some colorful bits, these wristbands are a little too practical and make me want to use the word utilitarian. I don't like that word as it applies to my Zumba gear. If you're wondering what's with the black and the white, well it's easier for students to differentiate left and right if there's an obvious difference between left and right. I only wear bracelets on the left wrist when I teach. My shoes have two different colors of shoelaces. The shoe lace thing works better for me since I'm only 5'3" and I can't roll one cargo leg up without looking ridiculous.

Socks keep meaning to get some socks from Zumba, just to try them, but the practical side of me says that the pairs I already have are brightly colored, match my gear, and still have life in them. I think it's going to still be a while before I'm ordering any Zumba socks. There's little variation in the socks from collection to collection. Not too surprising, socks are socks. Mostly it's the color that changes, or possibly the placement of the logo. And there is always a logo. is the Feet Of Strength 3-pack of socks. The logo is on the sole of the foot. I really love the pink/green sock and the purple/pink one isn't bad. I'm not sure I like the white/blue one though. It's the tone of blue, I'd like it to be a little bit brighter, or darker, or sharper. Not quite so pastel-ish...pastel-y? Meh, you get my meaning. There are some pants and shirts that are this same blue right now and I'm sure the intent was that the socks match. Oh well, by the time I'm ready to actually buy a pack of Zumba socks, there will be different colors available. Oh, don't point out to me that these are ankle socks and barely show anyways. Of that I'm well aware and that is hardly the point. Heh.

Some people bring towels to Zumba. I'm not one of them. I'm that uncivilized one you see wiping her face with the bottom of her tank top. Hey, the way I see it, the shirt is already sweaty in other places and not getting any cleaner. Why mess up a towel too? Yeah, uncivilized...I can own that.
This is the Sweat It-N-Forget It Towel 2-pack. They are cool looking with the ombre effect and I love the berry color, it actually makes that blue look good. But here's the problem I'd have with buying these towels: they don't list the dimensions in the product description. I cannot tell if this is hand towel sized or beach towel sized. If it was beach towel sized, I might actually get it. We have a pool and in the summer, I like to go for a night swim after I get home from Zumba. It's extremely refreshing. If it's hand towel sized, then it's next to useless to me since I'm not going to stick it in my bag to take to class. Also, it doesn't exactly match my home decor, so I can't hang it in a bathroom. That's house is not a "Zumba house". What, you were imagining neon painted rooms? Maybe a giant logo decal on my bedroom wall? Heh. Actually...nah...Bry would never go for it.

Bags are the Can't Touch This Bags in "Positively Pinktronic" and "Smoke". I'll let you decide which is which... I own a bag almost exactly like this, though not made by Zumba. Mine is a Thirty One bag. This style of bag is great for carrying shoes and a drink to class. I like to toss all the little things in the zipper pocket: a wristlet, my phone, my glasses (I need them to drive whether I wear them during class or not), and my container of Tums. It's just the right size to carry what you need, but not so big that you'll wind up over-packing and stuffing things in that you don't really need. I actually like the grey one better. I think the word Zumba stands out better.

Best advice: If Zumba brand accessories are inconvenient or too expensive (or both) to buy, try Goody. Their products are sold in supermarkets and other stores like Walmart and Target. They have a really nice athletic collection, and if you want bright, they make that too. You just have to visit the girls' section for all the neon stuff.

I am neither affiliated with or endorsed by either Zumba Fitness (beyond being a simple instructor) or Goody - Just an interested shopper with an opinion!

Monday, February 24, 2014

The ZIN Jam

On Sunday I went to my first ZIN Jam. It's a three hour workshop for Zumba instructors where they can learn new choreography. Learn it well enough that they can put it to use right away...well in my case almost right away. I learned each song leading with my right side and if I want to face my class to teach any of these, I'm going to need to learn to lead with my left side; so basically the mirror image of the song. That will take me some time. Plus, it will be a few days before I can even attempt to flip the songs because as much as I want to just dig into them right away, I need a couple of rest days. It was an intense 3.75 hours (we ran over the time), plus I'd gone to the Zumbathon the night before. Here is where I am grateful that Jae talked me out of doing the master class that preceded the Jam. I'm taking tonight off for sure, because I've got my own class to teach on Tuesday and Jae's class to go to on Wednesday. So I think any work I want to do on all the stuff I learned is probably going to have to wait until Friday at the earliest.

So what was the Jam like? I already used the word "intense", but here are some other applicable adjectives: busy, active, tiring, fun. 

When I first arrived there was check-in process where they make sure that you are you and that you're on the list. There were booklets filled with choreography notes and goody bags to take. My bag had a black rubber Zumba bracelet inside. Yay! One I don't already have. There was also a granola bar and chocolate in there but it all had dairy in it, which I don't eat, so I gave it all to Rae. Yep, she was there too. I had signed up and then found out she was going too. So that was fun. It was a strange feeling at first being next to her. Up until that point, I'd only done Zumba with her where she's the instructor facing me. I got over that pretty quickly, there's very little time to dwell on odd little tidbits like that in a Jam. She wanted to be up front and since I was directly to her right, I wound up smack in the middle of the front row. I got over that pretty quickly too...

Me: I'm in the front! Ack.
Me: So what? You're used to the front.
Me: Yeah, in my own class...this is different.
Me: Suck it up and deal.
Me: But people are going to see me make mistakes!
Me: No, they're going to be watching the Jammer, not you, and making their own mistakes. So quit freaking out already, because the first song is starting.
Me: This warmup mix by DJ BadMixx is pretty good.
Me: On that at least, we agree.

My inner monologue. Remember how I said (in a past post) that one voice is the drably colored voice who tells me that I can't or that I shouldn't? And remember how I said I've learned to ignore that and/or do the opposite of what that one says? This was one of those times.

Anyways! The first 30 minutes were spent warming up and doing all five songs, just getting an initial feel for them. I was surprised by how sweaty I was by the time we were finished with that. Indicative of what was to follow. After going through all the songs once, we grabbed our booklets of choreography notes and opened to the first song. The songs were divided into parts labeled with a letter: A, B, C, D, E. None of them had more parts than that, and a couple only went up to C. There was also a written description of each part, how many repetitions of each part to do, how many times each part appeared in the song, and the time stamp for where each part was in the song was included. Our Jammer was very thorough. So, referring to part A of song one, we went over what the description meant, and then practiced only that part three times. Likewise part B, and part C, etc. until we'd gone through all the parts in depth. Then we put the song back together again and did it all the way through two or three times for practice before moving on to the next song where we repeated the process all over again. And again and again and again, until we'd done all five songs.

We were part way through the fourth song when I looked at the clock... Hrmm...5:45. The Jam was supposed to go from 3-6pm... Hrmm.

Me (rushing to text Bry between song parts): Babe, we still have a song and half to go. Eat without me.
Bry (texting back): We're already eating.
Me (rushing to check texts between song parts): Good. I'll be home whenever we're done. Love you!

***Side Note: Bry later told me that measuring time in song is not useful and it doesn't mean the same thing to him as it does to me. Oops! The hazards of being married to a crazy Zumba girl. Heh.***

After we'd gone through all five songs, we did the first three as review before cooling down and stretching.

A few other interesting things:
* We took a five minute break somewhere in the middle, during which I was able to scarf down a Clif bar, but aside from that we were pretty much going the entire time. I've never danced so hard for so long in my life; even the day I went to B1 wasn't quite like this. I came home from the Jam and it was shower and food time and woe be unto that which got my way.

* That booklet full of choreography notes was in my hand two thirds of the time. For real. Being in the middle of the room, I didn't want to have to keep running back and forth to the wall to set it down and pick it back up. I also didn't want to lay it on the floor in front of me. I imagined that I would step on it and go sliding into the stage. So I just held on to it, and the pen I was using to jot down my own thoughts. I wasn't the only one either, I could see others behind me in the mirror doing the same thing. It is odd to do all the arm movements while holding on to something but trying to ignore that it's in your hand. Also, my booklet is strangely wrinkled and warped from my sweaty palm. Gross, but c'est la vie.

* There was Z-Wear for sale, and I managed to stay far far away from it. I resisted it's gravitational pull and didn't pick anything up or try anything on.

So that was my first Jam. Yeah, in there will be others down the road. Even though I was still sore after a hot shower and an Advil. Even though I went to bed exhausted Sunday night and woke up tired Monday morning. Even though I lay awake in bed for an hour Sunday night trying to fall asleep but not really being able to turn off the music and choreography in my brain. Even though, even though... In spite of all of that, or more likely -because- of all that, I loved every minute of it and I would do it all over again. It was time and money well spent.

Group Shot
I'm in the third row, first from the left. I'm wearing an orange shirt, and orange headband, and glasses. The lady in the blue tank top right behind me is Rae. The lady in the front row, second from the right, wearing the black hat, the grey top, and the black pants is the Jammer.

Best advice: Don't sell yourself short. You don't know where your limits are until you blow right past them doing a flamenco triple march.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Zumbathon...rescheduled

Last month I was supposed to go to a Zumbathon to raise money for Diabetes. I was very excited about it, I even wrote about it (here). And what happened? The winter happened! This terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad winter happened. That weekend turned out to be an absolutely miserable weather-wise. The event had to be cancelled and rescheduled. Me, Bry, and the boys were stuck in our house all of that weekend because of the winds and drifting that made our driveway impassable. Our plow service comes to plow at 2 inches accumulation or more. Wind blowing snow into our driveway does not (unfortunately) count as accumulation. Basically, it was a crummy weekend. The event -was- rescheduled, and I -was- able to go to it on its new night. That, and a month's time were enough to sooth the savage beast. Yeah, I don't think it was fun for my family being stuck inside a house for two days with "crazy-angry Zumba girl". I think we all know that I'm not really kidding about guys are troopers to put up with me sometimes and I love them for it.

So the Zumbathon was rescheduled to yesterday. When I saw the new date, at first I wasn't entirely sure I could pull off going actually. Over a week earlier, my friend Kay had texted me to ask if that Saturday was a good day for her and our friend Pat to have a combined birthday party for their oldest sons; two good buddies of my oldest son. Of course I said: "Yeah, that's fine. I've got a ZIN Jam on Sunday but Saturday is clear." (What's a ZIN Jam? I'll get to that in another post.) Well, a Zumbathon from 6:30-9pm doesn't seem like it would conflict with a five year old's birthday party from 2-4pm and yet...I was looking at a time crunch. You see, on regular Zumba nights, 2:30-3pm is the time I usually change for class and fix my hair. It's a quiet, slow part of my day. My youngest is napping, and it's still 45 minutes ahead of when I have to get the oldest one off the bus. If I wait until after 4pm, after my oldest is home, then the younger one is awake, everyone needs snacks and drinks and cartoons, and by then it's almost 5pm by the time I have a spare moment. Well, 5-5:30pm is when we usually eat as a family on Zumba nights so that I can leave and be on time to class. Obviously I have developed a system for Zumba nights that juggles both the Zumba and the mommy parts of my life, but that hinges on having the time between 2:30-3pm clear. So what happens when say, there's a birthday party? The answer is this: the Zumbamommy just gets dressed and ready -before- the birthday party. Yes, this means I show up to a children's party completely geared up, neon cargo pants and all. I put a smile on the face of the three year old sister of one of the birthday boys though, she loves pink!

I took my older son to the party and left the little one with Bry. It was a Lego themed party and Lego (did you know that the plural of Lego is actually Lego?) is not great for kids under three. We got there at 2pm and we were out of there by 4:10pm. I was so very proud of my son. I knew he didn't want to go...but he got his coat and shoes on and didn't give me a hard time about being the first ones to leave. I've learned from experience though, that in situations like this, I need to give him ample warning. So it was around 3:30pm that I told him we were leaving in a half hour, and then every ten minutes from there I repeated that he only had X more minutes to play. To whom this applies, parents of young ones and would-be parents, if you wait until you actually have to leave and then just announce that it's time to go, you get a meltdown-tantrum of epic proportions - don't fall into that trap! We made it home by 4:30pm which gave me enough time to have dinner and some family time before I had to turn around and leave at 5:50pm. Jae and I had agreed that I'd pick her up at 6:15pm so that we'd be to the Zumbathon by 6:30 when registration started.

Yep, Jae and I went together. One thing that I've come to know over the past 4+ years that is an absolute and indisputable fact: Zumba is great, and Zumba with a friend is the greatest. Would I have gone to the Zumbathon alone? Yes. Would it have been as much fun without her? No, not nearly. Plus, we did Timber by Pitbull and Ke$ here's a second absolute and indisputable fact: When you have to "spin your partner round and round", it's way more fun if that partner is your friend. Well, we made it there in plenty of time. The first forty people to register got a free water bottle. The Zumbamommy's juggling of both the Zumba and the mommy has paid off! Heh. It was a fun evening. And an interesting one too. Interesting in that there were ten different instructors (or pairs/groups of instructors) that each did three or four songs. Interesting in that every instructor (or instructor team) had their own style. In a situation like that, some you fit with and some you don't, but either way it's a good challenge for your brain and your body to experience something different every so often. An especially good challenge is to do someone else's choreography to a song you already know choreography for; that happened more than once yesterday.

If you're trying to find me in the photo, I'm the one in the pink pants (neon cargoes indeed). Jae was directly to my right, but the picture didn't get all the people on that side of the room, so you can't see her.  I'm so glad that I was able to go, it's been over three years since I last got to go to a Zumbathon and I was way overdue.

Best advice: If you're going to a Zumbathon, bring lots of water. There's no guarantee that there will be any available when you get there. Those things are usually anywhere from two to three hours so you're gong to need extra water beyond what you'd take to a regular class if you're going to stay properly hydrated.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Studio To Street Collection - Part 1: Pants

It's been over a month since I last did a Z-Wear post and frankly, I'm overdue. A strange thing happened since the last clothes post I did (you can find that here). Oddly enough, all the clothes I wrote about in that post are nowhere to be found. It's true! About a week and a half after I wrote that post, the clothes mysteriously disappeared from the shop with no explanation. The speculation is that they were released by mistake, prematurely, and that we'll see them again down the road. Supposedly, the full spring collection is being launched in four parts, so it's possibly we saw part two (or three or four) a little early.

So what's new in Z-Wear? The theme for the spring line is: Studio To Street.

It's a good collection based on what I've seen in the first part of the launch. In my opinion at any rate...and I like it a great deal more than what I wrote about last time. The colors seem more vibrant, and the clothes seem more stylish. What I find fascinating about the studio to street concept is that nearly half of the tops are every-day wear kind of tops. Okay, to my eye...the eye of a crazy Zumba girl...they're every-day wear. Not that you couldn't wear them to dance in, I think just about everything Zumba makes has that potential...but I tend to define every-day wear tops as having well-defined sleeves while dance-wear tops are sleeveless. This latest line of Zumba clothing is currently offering 21 shirts. That would be 21 different kinds of shirts, not factoring in the different color selections. That number also doesn't include the sports bras, or the instructor-specific tops. That's a lot of shirts!

The pants don't have quite as much versatility. I could easily see pairing the long sleeved shirt in the picture above with a pair of jeans, but I really can't see pairing some shirt I bought off the rack at J.C. Penny with any of the leggings, capris, or cargoes. Even the Zumbamommy has her limits.

My most recent posts about clothing collections seem to have developed an interesting pattern: tops, then pants - followed by accessories, and then menswear if there are any worth noting. I think this time I'll mix it up and start with the pants.

I love these pants. LOVE! Any guesses as to why? If you said, "Because she's a freak about her Zumba.", nice try. While it's true, and often the default answer, in this case there's a specific reason. These are the new Craveworthy Cargo Pants and they have long ribbons...wait for it...with stripes! I know right? Now you know why I decided to start with pants instead of shirts. This pair also comes in "Sew Black" and "Deep Blue Sea", but I love the "Berry Nice" pair you see at the left. I'm not really crazy about the blue pair though. It's just a little too light of a hue in my opinion. The black ones look great, but I already have three pairs of black cargo pants. What I don't have is a purple pair (with striped ribbons!)...waiting for a sale...waiting for a sale...hoping they still have my size...
At the right is the Can't Touch This Capri pant in "Pin A Rose". Basically, these are the capri version of the cargo pants. That ribbon dangling off the back? Yup, same striped ribbon. These also come in "Sew Black" and "Berry Nice". I've got to admit, the capris are really tempting going into the warm weather. Especially since they come in the same purple that I love so much. They're also a little bit cheaper...Decisions decisions!

Below on the left are the On The Marquee Fame Capri in "Sew Black" (also available in "Pin A Rose"). These have baggy pockets and a contrasting sash. I don't personally care for these. They are not my style. I'd rather have ribbons than a sash and the pockets kind of look like they're going to fall off if you put anything in them. On the right are the Maxin'-N-Relaxin' Capri in "Zumba green" (also available in "Deep Blue Sea" and "Berry Nice") They have a color-blocked waistband in a coordinating color which I think is neat, except for that it's mostly covered by the shirt. You can't see it, but the waist band actually says "Zumba" on it. Why put the coolness where it's going to be hidden? In the case of the green and blue capris, the cuffs match the waistband, but for whatever reason, this is not true of the purple pair (purple cuffs with a pink waistband). These aren't really my style either, but I think they're cuter than the other style with the baggy pockets. capri pant on the left is the Craveworthy Legging in "Deep Blue Sea" (also available in "Sew Black" and "Berry Nice"). I think by now dear readers you know my stance on leggings, but I'll reiterate for anyone new: great for people who aren't me. This particular style is wildly popular. As of the day I wrote this post, the blue and the black are completely sold out, and the only size left of the purple is small. Above on the right are the New On The Scene Capris in "Posh Pink" (also available in "Pin A Rose", "Eat, Grey, Love",  and "Sew Black"). A couple things are interesting about this style of capri legging. One, the front of the waistband dips into a V while the back has a higher rise. Two, they come in prints and solids. Style that's flashy, and not so flashy. It's nice to have options!
I'll say this for the "Berry Nice" color, it can make even leggings appealing to me. Case in point to the left. This is the So Bootyful Capri in "Berry Nice" (also available in "Sew Black", "Thunderin' Grey", and "Pin A Rose"). This style in this particular color is completely sold out. Both the pink and the black are down to only two sizes left. The grey pair though, has every size still available...quel suprise! Heh. These capris have a great fold over waistband that's really figure flattering and inside there's a drawstring. I love that as feature and I wish the cargoes came with an inner drawstring.

Rounding out the selection of capri pants, we have...sigh...harem pants... Like leggings, these are for people who aren't me. Leggings, at least I get why people like them. Harem pants (aka: drop-crotch pants), I truly don't get the appeal. If any of you dear readers love this style of pants and would care to enlighten me, by all means comment away. the left are the Hang Loose Harem Capri Pant in "Thunderin' Grey". Hang loose? Yeah, aptly named...and also available in "Sew Black" and "Pin A Rose". And since I don't have more to say about them... Above on the right are the Chill The Funk Out Capris in "Deep Blue Sea". These also come in "Sew Black" and "Pin A Rose". This pair is admittedly a little better. The pocket with the zipper is cute, and I like the colored waistband with the drawstring. But it's still a harem pant. Can you tell I'm kind of a cargo-snob? Heh.

Long Leggings & Jersey Pants
Yep, that's right. All the long pants that aren't cargoes are getting lumped together. Meh. See above where I said cargo-snob, I meant that.
These are the Lift Me Up Long Legging in "Eat, Grey, Love". I'm just to going to take a moment to say, once again, how much I love how creative Zumba gets with the names of their colors. They make me smile. This pair also comes in "Posh Pink". This long legging has the same prints as the New On The Scene Capris. If you'll excuse a bit of whimsy, to me the pattern looks like feathers. I don't know if I'm only saying that because these are called the Lift Me Up Long Legging or not. Then again, it might have been an intentional name designed to go with the pattern. At the left are So Bootyful Long Legging in "Pin A Rose" (also available in "Berry Nice", "Sew Black", and "Thunderin' Grey"). This is the long pants version of the So Bootyful Capri. But unlike the capri, none of the colors has sold out, every color still has every size available. I believe people are thinking ahead to the warmer months and snatching up the capris. Then again, maybe not... Above on the right are the Love Me Long Legging in "Deep Blue Sea" (also available in "Sew Black" and "Berry Nice") and they are almost completely sold out. As of the day I wrote this post, the blue only has two sizes left, the purple only has one, and the black has none. These are a simple solid-colored legging, the green you see in the picture above is actually the bottom hem of the shirt the model is wearing and not the waistband of the pants. These are also a performance-wear item with Z-Dri™ technology. the left are the Once Around The Track pants in "Thunderin' Grey" (also available in "Pin A Rose"). The pants on the right are the Gotta Jam Jersey pants in "Berry Nice" (also available in "Sew Black" and "Off The Chain White"). I wouldn't buy either pair, but that is beacause of the material rather than the style. I think they are both really cute pairs of pants and I especially like the colored zig-zag on the Gotta Jam pants...but I think I would get way too hot wearing them. They remind me of the pants I wear for yoga actually, and I know from experience that I overheat in them when I wear them to practice Zumba at home. I usually wind up having to roll the legs up to the knee. This looks ridiculous, absurdly ridiculous even, which is why I only do it at home.

One style, two colors. But interestingly enough, the shorts are reversible. Solid on one side, patterned on the other. If I were a shorts-for-exercise kind of gal (and not a cargo-snob), I'd probably get a pair of these. The Inside Out Reversible Short is like two for one special.
Berry Nice
Sew Black

This is what the solid colored sides of the shorts look like.
And this is what the pattern looks like on the reverse side.

I really like the new Studio To Street collection. Yes, I am biased towards cargoes in a big way, but there are a lot of other great pairs of pants (and shorts) to choose from. The colors are bright and fresh and the styles are chic. Z-Chic. And speaking of, I'll be discussing those 21+ tops in my next post.

Best advice: Be true to your style. Yes, there was a pair of leggings that I liked the look of...and yes, I think the shorts are cool...but neither one is really truly me.

I am neither affiliated with or endorsed by Zumba Fitness (beyond being a simple instructor) - Just an interested shopper with an opinion!

Friday, February 14, 2014

The first month

So I have been teaching Zumba for a whole month now. It's been such an exciting time for me, getting my class started. I am thrilled by the progress I see in my class. I tell them how well they are doing, and do you know, they don't believe me? Imagine that. They don't (or can't) see in themselves what I see in them.

*gasp* Remind you of anyone? ME! From three and a half years ago and when Rae pulled me up to the front row. She saw something I couldn't see and at the time I didn't believe her. Holy cow! It's come full circle.

This month of teaching has been full of revelations. That was probably the biggest one. Others include:

- My brain is working just as hard as my body. In any given song, I have to be thinking at least three steps ahead, not just for cuing purposes but for modification purposes. I have to be watching my people, making sure everyone is okay.

- Getting paid to do something you love this much feels amazing! I think that's pretty self explanatory.

- Choreography that I like isn't always great for class. Learning new choreography is fun for me, but some of the things I can do, I can do because I have four years of Zumba experience. Someone with four weeks of experience is going to struggle with those same things. Learning to identify what won't work and figuring out how to modify it so that it's still cool is a work in progress for me. Jae excels at this however, and she gives me solid advice and suggestions; thank goodness for her!

- Building a small class into a big class takes time. I already knew that, but I didn't know that. If that makes sense. I keep reminding myself that it's only been a month. But in the meantime, I already have regulars and they make the small class so worthwhile!

So that's what my month has been like. I'm looking forward to the next one. And now, just for laughs:

Best advice: It's good to take some time to reflect every once in a while. You can see what you've learned, and what still might need a little work.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The concept of "Workout Wear Fridays"

I recently came across an interesting article from the Wellness section of the Washington Post that was written about a month and a half ago. The article, entitled "The Case For Workout Wear Friday", was written by Vicky Hallet. If you don't have time to read the whole thing, it can largely be summed up to this:

"The basic premise is that people in fitness gear are more likely to exercise — or at least to think about it."

I also came across a cheeky rebuttal to the idea of workout wear Fridays written by Jessica Grose for Slate Magazine. Her opinion is as follows:

"It’s Friday! You know, the workday that lies between you and a full 48 hours of leisure. And the day that you wear yoga pants to work, exercise with your colleagues, and then sit in your stanky workout clothes until you clock out at 6."
Photo Credit: Betabrand

I'm of two minds about this concept of workout wear Fridays: I like it in theory, but not as much in practicality. I'm all for promoting better health and increased exercise. In that respect, maybe this isn't such a bad idea. One major argument for this idea is that healthier people use their health insurance much less often. This could lead to companies saving money.

The article from the Washington Post quotes fashion consultant and author Lauren A. Rothman:
"But on the off chance that Workout Wear Friday gets the go-ahead, she’d want to establish some ground rules. For starters, nothing ripped, faded or stained. If you’re wearing pants that are tight around the crotch or backside, you’ll also need a looser-fitted cover-up, such as a jacket or sweater, she says. And please don’t show too much skin. Any exercise attire for the office has to be an upgrade from what you’d throw on to go to cycling class. “Match your shoes to the outfit. It should almost be equivalent to a suit. Don’t just hodgepodge it,” Rothman decrees. Even tiny details matter. (“An ankle sock is best — there’s no need for excess sock,” she opines.)"
Photo Credit: The Washington Post

Hrmm, office dress code for active wear. Okay then, that seems reasonable enough. But there are a lot of workplaces where workout wear Fridays, even with a dress code, would not be accepted. Some examples include... Any place with a strict professional dress code such as law firms, banks, and political offices. Any place with a dress code that requires safety considerations like construction sites or burning buildings. Any job that requires a specific uniform like police officers. If you think the above picture is a little silly, try to imagine your lawyer defending you in court in sweat pants because it's Friday? Or how about the firefighter rescuing you in sneakers because it's Friday?

Frankly, I don't think the idea will take off (even with the potential to reduce health care costs). Of course I could be wrong, I'm sure the same was thought of casual Fridays when that idea was first introduced and it's pretty standard in offices these days. Even in schools. When I was working as a teacher, if you put a dollar in the jar in the office on Fridays, you could wear jeans and sneakers. Okay, so I'm picturing myself down the road...back to work, with both my kids in school full time...and workout wear Fridays is a thing at that point. workout wear is a lot of neon and dangling ribbons. That probably wasn't what the fashion consultant was thinking of when she came up with her idea of a dress code. Then again, she doesn't expressly say it has to be lots of black... Let's review:

1) "nothing ripped, faded or stained" I wouldn't show up to Zumba (much less to work) in anything faded or stained. I mean honestly! Ripped though...Well I guess that would rule out shirts that are specifically cut up for Zumba. I have a couple of those, but personally, I have to be in the right mood to want to wear one so that restriction wouldn't be a problem for me.

2) "if you’re wearing pants that are tight around the crotch or backside, you’ll also need a looser-fitted cover-up, such as a jacket or sweater" Okay, the pants part of this absolutely wouldn't be an issue for me since I'm not one to wear leggings to Zumba. I'm a cargoes girl through and through. But I think the cover-up idea would be necessary just the same since schools (like most workplaces) don't approve of the sleeveless tops I tend to prefer.

3) "please don’t show too much skin" Sleeveless tops, you see? But the real meaning in that statement is no bare mid-drifts. I couldn't agree more, it -is- a workplace after all. There are women out there who would wear a sports bra to Zumba with nothing over it...but I don't happen to be one of them.

4) "any exercise attire for the office has to be an upgrade from what you’d throw on to go to cycling class" This one would be tricky. There's no such thing as "dress cargoes". As if there's such a thing as "dress yoga pants"? Actually yeah, there are...refer to the first picture and have a look for yourself. Those have a faux zipper and faux pockets as well as real belt loops. Oh, and they cost nearly $80 (sold here).

5) “match your shoes to the outfit. It should almost be equivalent to a suit. Don’t just hodgepodge it” Neon cargoes? Neon shoes. No problem.

6) “an ankle sock is best — there’s no need for excess sock” Agreed. Especially with capri length pants.

Given that it (mostly) adheres to the dress code, would it be practical for me to wear Zumba clothing to my day job as a teacher? No, probably not. Ribbons are awesome for Zumba but you know what? They get caught in car doors. They also accidentally get wet when they slide into the tub while you're giving your two year old his bath. You know what else? Cargoes aren't warm! I'm sure, dear readers, that you are all going "Duh! How many times has she said 'cooler is better when it comes to Zumba clothes'?" Okay, fair enough. But when I said that I was talking about when you are in the process of actually dancing! I've learned this year that the same thing that keeps me from overheating while dancing is the same thing that makes me freeze when I'm standing outside. On nights I go out to class, I change for Zumba before I go get our oldest son off the bus.

***Side note: Should I open a betting pool for what age he'll be when he finally asks me to stop coming to the bus stop dressed for Zumba? I've got dibs on 8. Heh.***

I always take the car to the bus stop if it's cold and snowy or raining so I can wait inside, but I have to get out to meet him. It seems to take a kindergartener five minutes (from the time the bus stops) to collect his things, then climb down, and then finally cross the street to me. It might not seem like a long time, but that's five minutes of the wind whipping my ribbons around and cutting right through the fabric of my cargoes. When you're used to only being outside in winter for just a minute between your car and the studio/gym/school/church, five minutes seems like a really long time. So even just thinking about having to do recess duty on the schoolyard in cargoes in winter makes me shiver. Never. Going to. Happen.

Question: If your workplace decided to try out the idea of workout wear Fridays, would you do it? For me, as much as I love (and I mean really LOVE) my Zumba clothes, it's a resounding no. As an elementary school teacher, it just wouldn't be practical.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The motto

This week a friend of mine wrote a post on her own blog entitled "What's your motto?". I hope you'll take the time to check out her home, life, and style blog but if you don't, I want you to see the piece that got my attention.

"I have always considered myself to be a strong and confident person, but it turns out that this is not always the case... especially when I am outside my comfort zone." read that and thought to myself, that is so me, or it used to be me... Maybe on some level it still is...? Regardless, I could definitely understand and empathize with that statement. Back in the early days of this blog, I wrote a couple of posts (here and here) about my Zumba wardrobe that, while about clothing, were also about me finding my style. Or maybe it's more accurate to say, me finding the confidence to decide to even -have- a style. As you can see, the clothing on the left is very different than what's on the right and if you didn't know that both sets of tank tops belonged to me, you might think they belonged to two different people. In a way, I guess they did. The pile of tank tops on the right represent the voice of fear and insecurity, the voice that tells me, "You can't." and "You aren't good enough." and "Hide in the back row where no one can see you!". On the other side is the voice of strength that says, "Don't listen to that crap." and "You are better than you think you are!" and "You've earned your front row spot.". I've learned to recognize which voice is speaking to me and when it's the brown-clad drab voice, I do the opposite of whatever she says because she's full of it. Something about Zumba in general, if you stick with it long enough it builds your confidence. At least I know that's true for me. It also helped that I had Jae around to give me a little push in the right direction. Hey, credit where credit is due and all that...

Covington Women's Fashion Boot Anastasia in Red -- From Sears
I've realized that ever since I re-made my Zumba-style, my whole way of styling myself day to day has changed. Discovering a sense of style through Zumba has, at least to some extent, spilled over into my every-day clothes. let me give you a "for instance". For instance: I own a pair of red boots. Bright red boots. Bright red boots that are high-heeled. Bright red high-heeled boots that come up almost to my knees. Let me tell you something about tall red boots, they get noticed and they get commented on. My bright red boots are the every-day wear equivalent of my Z-Wear neon pink cargoes and I don't wear either one to blend in. Less than a year ago, I wouldn't have even owned, much less worn, either piece of clothing. Now though, I'll put them on (not together, heh) and I am completely unapologetic about it.
Feelin' It Cargo Pants by Zumba in Mulberry

So, getting back to my friend's blog post, mottos... In trying to answer the question "What's your motto?" I went through a few. These are the musings of my bright-clad rainbow voice by the way...

Single, single, double. Great for if you're teaching a class and you forget what comes next. When in doubt...

I am a Zumbaholic and I DON'T need help. A 12-step program for Zumba addicts would fail miserably, as the meetings would devolve into impromptu classes...

Yes I'm doing Zumba in my car. Yes I can see you watching. And no I don't care! I know I'm not the only one out there who does this. It's great fun if you're at a long light or moving through a construction zone at 3 mph...

Yes I am wearing neon AND tie-dye. So? This one is really a nonverbal statement. When I show up to class dressed that way, it translates to "I'm here, this is me. So be it.".

And finally...

Best advice: Find a motto if you don't already have one. If you do already have one, where does it come from? From the bright confident voice, or the drab insecure one?

I am neither affiliated with or endorsed by either Zumba, or Sears -- Simply a shopper with an opinion!