Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The long hiatus (or what I did this summer) - Part 1

Well folks, I'm back after a long break for the summer. I'll admit it, I didn't originally plan to take such a long more or less just happened. A big part of it was having both kids at home full time again. I didn't realize just how spoiled I was from Sept.-May until school ended. Having two kids at home, it felt like I was the "mommy-police", having to mediate some argument or dispute every five minutes (that's not an exaggeration, it was literally five minutes between disagreements most days...) over toys, play space/personal space, or what cartoon was going to be watched on the TV. Since I could barely focus on folding laundry or doing dishes in those short intervals, I figured it was a pointless endeavor to try to sit and write. At first, I kept meaning to "get around to it" on weekends when Bry wasn't working and could be my parent-policing partner, but as the time kept passing, I eventually just accepted that I was taking the summer off. At least from blogging at any rate, I taught my class through summer and I sure as certain -went- to class through the summer.

- I taught through the summer: Bry convinced me I should teach Zumba through the summer when back in May my original plan had been to take the summer off. I was reluctant, fearing that everyone would be too busy to come despite their best intentions. My students are also members of my church and I know that church attendance drops from June-Aug. But with a little encouragement from Bry and a little advice from Jae, I decided to go ahead and hold class. Bry has been my biggest supporter from the very first Zumba class. He understands how important it is to me and respects that. I in turn, value and respect his opinion and if he seemed to think teaching over the summer would be good for me, I was willing to give it a shot. So deciding to teach, I of course went to Jae for advice. She said, "If you're going to do this, get them to pre-pay you." Did I mention she's really smart? It was a great idea. Pre-paying for the summer meant that they would lose the money they paid if they didn't show up for class, and losing money is a pretty good motivator. I asked in May who'd be interested in sticking out the summer with me and I had two of my people bow out almost immediately for work reasons and personal reasons respectively. The others though were game, but they were concerned about paying for each week knowing that there would be some weeks when they just couldn't make it. I didn't want to have anyone pay for something they knew for certain they weren't going to use, so I had everyone who wanted to do the summer write down which weeks in which months they already knew AT THAT TIME would be weeks they'd miss class. To be clear, it was for dates they already had plans for. Not for "Oh something suddenly came up in the middle of the summer." Because I have a smaller class, it wasn't too hard for me to look at everyone's dates, calculate how many out of the 13 weeks they thought they'd make it and then multiply that by $5. And, strangely enough, it turned out that every one of them told me June 17th was a bad night for them. So I just didn't hold class that week - make that 12 weeks of summer... Heh. Bottom line is that per class, everyone pre-paid the same price, just that some pre-paid for more classes than others.
To sweeten the pot a little, I offered two guest passes to everyone who pre-paid me. I'd love to say that this helped me get more people to my class and expanded my numbers. Alas, only one person was able to co-opt convince a friend to come. Once. Everyone else tried so hard. I'll give them that, they tried. The problem was, that everyone they asked said no. The reasons given varied, but they all had the same theme of "Zumba is too hard". Sigh. The one guest who did come to my class enjoyed it very much and said she liked my style, so that was gratifying. 
***Side Note: If you're wondering about my guest passes, I made them using a stick-on label template and printed them myself to stick to the backs of my business cards. If you can't see it well, under the Zumba logo is the church's logo and next to that are blanks for me to write in the dates it's valid, as well as the date it gets used.***

- I took over the lobby of the church: Our church is a building with specific zones for heating and cooling. Great for cost efficiency! Not so great for holding a Zumba class. Turning on a zone doesn't mean instant heat or AC. It takes the system close to 45 minutes to get to whatever temperature has been set. Needless to say, if we need the AC for a 6:30pm Zumba class, it's best to get it started at 5:30 but that wasn't always the case unfortunately. So I requested, and was given, a box fan to set up in my little room to at least keep the air flowing. By the first week of June, one fan wasn't even close to being enough keep us all from overheating. For that second week, I had every intention of bringing a box fan from home in the hopes that two would do the job, but I forgot. So it was executive decision time! The lobby of the church is a wide open space with a very high ceiling. It was unused, but best of all it was cool. So I set my sound system up on the coffee bar and we got to dancing. This arrangement worked well by and large. I had to cancel class three times, once for a church outreach program, and twice for a potluck supper/book club. I have my fingers crossed that I'll be able to keep the lobby from now on, but there's the possibility I'll have to move the class back upstairs. Time will tell!

- I took a Zumba-Step class: The week in June that I was forced to cancel class, I decided would be a great opportunity to try out something brand new. Zumba launched Zumba Step earlier this year, and the local Jammer (remember her from my Jam post?) went and got the license to teach the format. I've never done a step class before. The popularity of step aerobics pre-dates me just a bit. By the time I was in my later teens, its time had mostly passed. So Z-Step was a new and interesting experience for me; only the second specialty class (after Z-Toning) I've taken. I can say this about it: it really makes your brain work hard.
Or at least mine felt like it was working double time - for the teacher's choreography that I wasn't necessarily familiar with, and for working with the step which I definitely wasn't familiar with. But, I can now say that I have done salsa on and off a step. Also cumbia, merengue, and reggaeton. I enjoyed the experience, but I wouldn't make my usual class.

- I did Rae's summer session at Bowens Mills: Last year I affectionately dubbed the session "summer camp". I still felt that way this year, it was the same class I took last summer. Same place, same time, same night, same carpool with Jae...even the same spot on the floor! The first night I got there, I was actually solo (Jae had to miss class the first two weeks) and when I approached what had been my spot last year, there was already a lady standing in it. Hrmm. Okay, I wasn't going to be a diva about it, I simply took the spot directly behind her. But before class even started, she turned around and got a look at me. I smiled at her all, "hi there, nice night for Zumba!" and for some reason I cannot fathom, two minutes later she picked up her stuff and move to the back row on the opposite side of the room. After blinking a few times I shrugged and moved my stuff over and took back my spot. Actually, It was my spot -and- Jae's. I made sure to stand in the middle between so that nobody would try to stand next to me on my right. Yeah yeah...that might have been a bit diva-ish. But hey, friends don't let friends' spots on the floor get stolen.

- I re-sprained that ankle: That about says it all doesn't it? Oh I was so mad at myself and I felt like such an idiot too. If you're a newer reader, and haven't gone back into the archive at all, I sprained my ankle in the spring of 2013 and I wrote two posts about it which can be found here and here. The floor at Bowens is made up of concrete slabs and the outside edge of one of my cross-trainers caught the crack between two of these slabs and I rolled it pretty hard. I was showing this piece of choreography I'd done to Rae and Jae one night after class and for some reason that I no longer remember, I thought it would be fine if I changed out of my dance shoes first. Had I been wearing my dance shoes, it probably wouldn't have happened; my Zumba Flex's are a lot narrower than the cross-trainers I had on. And you know what else? The spot on the floor where I was demonstrating this song, was not MY spot. Had I been in my spot, it probably wouldn't have happened; my spot on that floor is next to a crack too and yet I have a sixth sense as to where the crack is and how to avoid it. The minute I rolled my ankle, I heard Jae and Rae both gasp and go "Oooh!". I stood there for a few seconds, not because I'd rolled my ankle, but because I was listening for the beat so I could pick up the song again and keep going; all the while underneath the music, I could hear them asking me if I was okay, but they both sounded like they were at the other end of a tunnel. Yes, I know how crazy all that sounds...and the truth is, by the time the music got to a point where I knew I could pick up my choreography, my brain and my body were on the same page and telling me to sit myself down. So I did, and I sat there for a few minutes with my eyes closed, rubbing my ankle trying to dampen down the pain, and also silently congratulating myself for not having said some curse word in front of Rae's 9yr old son who was there that night.
When the foggy tunnel feeling went away, I stood up and asked Rae if she could restart the music and I finished what I'd set out to do. Rae and Jae, being the good friends they are, made attempts at talking me out of trying again. But I, freak that I am, had a score to settle with that floor. In the three weeks that followed, I went to class, I taught my class, and that was it. I didn't practice and in the evenings after my boys were in bed, I'd sit around with my leg propped up with an ice pack. I was pleased and pleasantly surprised to see that my ankle bounced back fairly quickly. I'll admit, it was probably the amount of rest it got in between classes.

Best advice: Don't spread yourself too thin. Had I tried to keep up with my blog over the summer, my posts would have suffered no doubt, but I know I would have spent most of the summer frustrated and irritated with trying to write yet not getting anything done. The break was what I needed and I'm glad I took it.

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