Zumbathons and Demos

Lee and Staci 

This past weekend brought a series of fun-filled fundraising events for me.  First I went north to Saint Albans for a Zumbathon to raise funds for a student scholarship for a high schooler looking to enter the field of education and teaching.  The scholarship was created in memory of a local school teacher who was shot a few years ago.  Her family was all there, strutting their Zumba pride throughout the morning and finally to a Zorba number.  The event raised over $2600 for the scholarship. 

My Aunt Lee joined me there, her first experience with Zumba, and she seemed to have a ball!  It was great to see someone fall in love as I had with the music and the people there.

The next day there was a series of dragon boat races happening out on Lake Champlain where funds were going to Camp Ta-Kum-Ta, a camp for children diagnosed with cancer.  A couple of friends from a local Zumba fitness class were paddlers in a Dragonboat and had done some serious fundraising to be there.  I went with a band of students and our instructor, Allison, where we did a 15 minute demo for the athletes, their friends and family.


I love being able to give back to the community through this group – for all that Zumba has opened up for me.  It’s a chance to share the joy, passion and support I feel each time I go to class or get to help out with a song. 

And I’m Off!

Saturday July 31 was National Dance Day in the US, and I celebrated by kicking my day off with a rocking Zumba vlass with Allison.  Some friends are hosting a 2 hour Zumbathon for a local non-profit working with teens in the area in September, and were looking for instructors to pitch in and bring some songs and flavor, 

I thought that there was no better way to start on my journey.  I’ve been so daunted by creating that “FIRST” number.  I dove in and said, sure, sign me on for two!  Bridget, another local Zumba instructor also licenced in Zumba Gold said he’d help me get going and work on creating choreography. 

I’m really excited to start this and spent some time this weekend finding two songs that were just right.  Both are pieces that I love to do car-eography to and just make me feel good. 

That means I’ve got a month and a half to get it done.   Should be a blast!

Dancing Queen

So I’ll admit – i got that license and had a series of fear-filled moments.  Who am I to teach Zumba – I’m not a dance instructor…I’m certainly not the picture of perfect fitness.  And I let it derail me briefly.  Yup – you know that feeling I’m sure.  I let my fear stop me.  And with the stopping – all the old tapes in my head came roaring back.  “You’re not good enough.”  “You’re fat.”  “You can’t do THAT!”

Well – thank goodness for friends and family reminding me the sheer joy that Zumba has brought into my world.  I’ve started back to classes regularly.  I’m trying to step up (all puns intended there!) my game and work harder. 

I’ve started to work on learning choreography, not just dancing in class, but understanding the next step.  In a couple of weeks I am going to go watch a fellow instructor and friend who is also an instructor and her Zumba Gold class for a senior center. 

I think that is something I’d like to try to learn to do.  From what I have heard the joy of the classes faces is contagious and I would love to be able to give even an ounce of the joy and friendship I’ve gotten from this adventure so far. 

Meanwhile, I’m still rocking out in my classes as much as I can! 

Golden Girl!

So last weekend I travelled to Florida for my class in Zumba Gold!  I had travelled here because the instructor for the class came with great praise and recommendation from several I love and trust, and it was so worth the trip.

First off – I left Vermont in an unually cold snap.  I hopped on my plane and was clicking through some channels and got to see the new Zumba ad.  Some familiar faces in there now.  Some I hope to meet as I work on learning more and bettering my own fitness and learning how best to teach/motivate others.

I arrived in the Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood Airport six hours later to  88 degree heat and 87% humidity!  Baby it’s was certainly NOT cold outside. 

I spent Friday afternoon enjoying the pool, cranking the AC in the room and having some fresh shrip and key lime.  Later I went across the beach and over to hang out by the ocean.  It was still hot and humid, but the breeze coming off the ocean felt great after a quick dip. 

Nerves were kicking in and the reality of it was sinking in like my feet on the beach.  I remembered the first classes I took hanging in the back corner hoping and praying that NO ONE would see me.  I was having some of those same fears here – would people jusge me based on my size or my heart?  I certainly don’t look the part of instructor.  But this is something that has changed me forever.  I’m happier, healthier, and loving life a whole lot more since starting.  Weight loss is great – but it’s almost a fringe benefit to some of the other things.

I made an early night of it, and set the alarm for bright and early.  Well – really, dark and early.  I wanted to see the sunrise on the ocean.   I knew that would be another way to calm myself, and remember the strength of support and self that I have. 

Saturday morning it was just me and the guy doing yoga on the beach as the sun rose.  It was quiet except the whoosh of the waves.  I thought about all the folks who had supported me along the way and the emails I’d gotten.

I’ll write more about the class soon -but I’ll just say for now – I have my license in hand and I am Zumba Gold eager.  I can’t wait to find ways to use it in the community.

I’m On My Way…I’m Making It!

Wow – a week from now, I will be inflight and bound for my Zumba Gold Instructor class!  I have a giant mix of excitement and nerves.  I love Zumba Fitness and all that it has given me over the past 6 months of working, working, working.  I can’t wait for this next step. 

I just got the overview of the training in my email this morning, and it seems even more real. 

I am so excited to learn about the actual core steps and science of Zumba, and about modifications from the high intensity workouts.  I’m still nervous about the whole process of certification – what if I am not good enough?  Please don’t judge me by my size – I’ve been at this solidly and really want it.  The people around me in class are so behind me it’s great.  I know that there are things I can do really well, and things that I still need to work on.  I’m not bound for Dancing with the Stars of So You Think You Can Dance anytime soon, but as my instructor reminded some of us looking towards training…It’s dance fitness, not just dance. 

I’m sure it will be phenomenal, and that I will do the very best I can.  I just have to remember to smile, take it all in, talk with people down there.  What totally makes the classes work for me here can happen there too – music, community, hard work, awesome people and a lot of fun!

Thanks Prilosec for helping me to take that next Samba step!

They like Me…They Really, Really Like Me!

It’s Official. Prilosec Official that is! I’m their Official Zumba Student for the next year and will be writing about the adventures of the oversized, undertall, madly in love with Zumba student I’ve become. Along the way, I’ll take you on my certification journey for Zumba Gold and weight loss.

Thank you Prilosec, Geoff G., Allison PD, Lori AP, and Susan P (and all you other folks of Zumba classes!) for all your support and votes of confidence.  I promise to make you proud and share the joys I’ve found in the past 5 months!

Me? Dancing? And I’m Not in Montreal?

What a weekend – a Zumbathon, dancing for the opening of lululemon athletica, the Green Mountain Derby Dames, a little Divalicious Dancing (crack out the boas and burlesque attitude!) and Pilates for dancers. It’s no wonder that I am a little sore at the moment.

It’s also been a weekend rampant with emotions. This week has brought waves of them.

It wasn’t so bad as all that – many and much has been for completely good reasons.

It started with a discussion where someone who I really respect and admire reminded me of things about myself that I had lost or given up on this fall. Over the past 7 months, they have slowly come back. Was it the therapy? The Zumba? Geoff? The new job? Who knows, perhaps it was the perfect storm. Or the Universe cutting me a break. Whatever it was, I was reminded how resilient and creative I can be. That was a good reminder. It was the comment, however, where she called me a dancer where it took a while to sink in and some convincing.

Dancer? Me? Not on your life. After the discussion of how much time and effort goes into my Zumba, how much focus it has brought to my world, and more importantly – the side benefits. Yeah, the weight loss is great. But it’s almost secondary to the joy and excitement and the friendships that have come from it. If I can put aside all the things about perfect techniques and images of thin ballerinas, people on So You Think You Can Dance and just roll with it, she’s right. Writers don’t necessarily have novels. Dancers need not be accepted into Julliard!

I had a ball at the Zumbathon – even with the crunch of people. I had that hip scarf out and was shaking what my momma gave me (a big butt!). I was smiling, sweating and having fun.

Surprisingly, what was more fun? Going down the street and dancing with the lululemon gals. Allison’s groupies went down the street and did about 4 numbers to celebrate thei opening of the new store. On the way there, someone said something that a few months ago would have devastated me. Would have made me stop the thought that I deserved to be out there with these women dancing away. But, it’s a new day, and a new dawn – and a rediscovered new Stace. I was out on Church Street in full daylight dancing!

That may not sound like a lot, but a year ago – when Geoff did want to go dancing, I made him take me to Montreal to some little tiny club so that we could avoid being seen by anyone who might notice me. Then, at best, he might have gotten me to dance for 4 numbers or so before I sat down and watched him go off and shimmy shake.

I didn’t think I could feel more alive or hopeful than that for the weekend. It was a rush and I’m glad I did it. I still cringe at the sight of me on that video, but hey – I was there and doing what I love.

The best – the Pilates for Dancers class with Stephanie Justine. Now mind you, it was after all that yesterday and an hour of Strip Hop on Sunday. I was sore, tired and still beaming with a smile. But that class totally blindsided me. Yes, there were so many places I was frustrated with myself because I couldn’t do something just the way it was described because of my size. Yes, I felt extremely self-conscious lying there on my back stretching. I felt at times more like a beached whale than graceful mermaid tail! I’m not sure where or how though – someplace between the music, Stephanie’s voice and the endorphins, I slipped into a trancelike state that I haven’t experienced in many many years. I felt like I was on the mountain top at witch camp in a ritual.

Emotions flew through me – shame at the size I am mixed with the hope of the work I’m doing to change that. Frustration that I couldn’t do “it” whatever it was, paired with the realization that there are many who weren’t ever even going to try. There was something happening that just made me feel even more deeply connected to ME than I had been in some time. And it was liberating.

I cannot say this enough, but thank you to all of you who are really making these challenging exercises and workouts something that I not only want to try, but really MISS when I can’t go. You have all changed my world, my me. I hope one day I can help someone the way you all have for me.

To the Zumba and S-Hop family from me, peace love and a ton of shimmey!