Hey Fitties! Happy Friday  er… Saturday? Wah?  Sorry. I’ve been raking leaves all morning, I might be a little crazed.  Great day yesterday — I taught 3 (and a half) Zumba classes, which may be a personal record for me. My last class (an hour and a half) was for teens and eventually they begged me to let them stop. Muahahaha.

So I’ve given tips before about mistakes I’ve made teaching Zumba.  I definitely don’t mean to make it sound like I’ve got it alllll figured out, because I don’t. In fact, I’m learning more and more every time I teach. Sometimes, when I have a day like yesterday, when I teach 3 different groups in 3 different locations, I learn even faster.

So I’m going to amend my statement a bit about the necessity of having your playlist pre-planned. First, remember tip #4 — focus on your students. See if they’re smiling, sweating and loving your music. Yesterday I had a pretty standard playlist all set up, a nice mix of Zumba latin music and pop/hip hop music. I forget which song came on early in the class and the kids lost their minds. It might have been Moves Like Jagger. Low came on and I got more of the same. By the time Britney’s I Wanna Go came on, I was figuring out that I needed to scrap my original playlist and go all pop for the class.

The reverse has happened to me as well — I’ve subbed at a club where the students LOVE the pop princes and princesses, but I showed up and those were not the students who were taking the class. So I had to patch together a different playlist.

Pay close attention to what is really driving the energy in your class and adjust your original playlist if necessary. Have a few generic playlists (ie, all Top 40 or all Latin mix or all Latin hip hop) set up so that you can switch out of your planned playlist and play several of the songs they seem to love without having to stop and adjust the music repeatedly. My iPod is a mess, so I need to get cracking on this.

This goes to show the importance of tip #4 and focusing on your class to read how they’re responding to your songs.  Every group is different but if you watch them carefully you can start to see how to adjust your teaching. Now I pay much closer attention in the warm up songs to see how quickly people pick up choreography. Do people seem confused at a grapevine? Ok, they might be a little inexperienced with Group Ex, so they need more break downs. Do they automatically sense the single single double pattern? No use explaining it to them if they already get it.

Look around when you’re teaching. Is 80% of the class (I like to shoot for 90%) on beat with you? Do you look like an army of bootyshakers? That means you are cueing properly. If you look around and only half the class is keeping up with you, it’s not them — it’s YOU.  Some classes you can get away with less cueing, other classes you really have to cue early and cue often. One of my classes has a little trouble with a tricky beat, another class doesn’t need me to count the beat at all. It’s your class and you have to be the detective to figure out what your students need.

I bet you thought teaching group ex was easy. 😉

I’ve got some other tips (structuring your playlist for water breaks etc.) so stay tuned!