I wish that I could boast that I come up with the Zumba tips I pass on to ya’ll.
I don’t. I wish I did.
Some of them come from Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Some of them come from Chalene Johnson: “You won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Be you times two. Some will [love you], some won’t, so what?”
Today’s wisdom comes from a wall. Yep, a wall. It’s written on a wall in The Dance Company New Hampshire where I am proud to teach Zumba, Hip Hop Hustle and [recently] began
flirting with the cutest babies ever assisting the littles’ Tuesday morning dance classes.
Do it big. Do it with style.
I like that. And it ties in with some wisdom I stole from All Star Presenter Camp, which is: When you’re teaching, your movements have to be big. Huge. Bigger than you think is big enough. Big enough to actually put you in pain the next day (anyone who has ever seen the diminutive Christine Dwyer in action will attest to this. She is teeny tiny until she starts punching and kicking. Then she reaches the ceiling.) Big enough to be seen from the very top row of the bleachers if you were on a football field. Or… big enough to be seen from the back row of your Zumba class.
In other words, you can’t half-ass your movement. You have to have commitment when you teach. If you look scared or unsure or freaked out, it makes people nervous. That’s right — humans are a curiously empathetic bunch. When we’re around someone who’s at peace and zen’d out and loved up and lovin’ life, guess what? We pick up on that. And it’s awesome. It’s like the contact high you get from a DMB concert (ha ha. Just kidding.)
But when you’re with a person who’s a squirrelly, uncertain sort, you too become squirrelly and and ill at ease.
Hence the need for teaching with confidence. Bigness. And styleosity. If you’re not sure of yourself when you’re teaching, you need more practice. And that’s cool — practice some more. Offer free classes. Teach in your underwear. Whatever you have to do to feel completely non-self-conscious about what you’re doing.
I was talking to a friend the other day (by the way, she offers the best massages everrrr) about fears. You know how public speaking is usually considered everyone’s #1 fear (death is #2)?
For me, it’s sea creatures (mostly sharks, but really all fish in their natural habitat, which is why I don’t scuba), mice, spiders and fire.
I will gladly dance around like a fool with a hole in my pants AND NO UNDERWEAR (true store. I have witnesses — BUT, I’d like to point out, I did NOT have visible panty lines!), but I will hide under my covers with the bedroom door closed while my husband attends to furry, critter-like visitors (also a true story, you can ask him).
But I wasn’t always this way. It takes a little time to de-sensitize yourself to fear in front of crowds. As Eminem so eloquently put it: I’ve been chewed up and spit out and booe’d out of classes.
Okay, not really, but you could read it on people’s faces. They would boo if it weren’t bad manners.
In the end, you just gotta laugh and commit to keep doing things big and with conviction. Some dance teachers would bellow “SELL IT TO ME!”
Well okay, be the door to door salesman if that works.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it truly is that you have to have the strength of your convictions when you are teaching group exercise. If you behave like whatever you are doing is the most natural thing in the world, your students will follow you to the ends of the earth.
If you act like… eh… mayyybeeee this is the step… mayyyyyybeeee this is what goes next… your students will feel weird and unsure. And, since no one relishes feeling weird and unsure, it’s a good bet that people aren’t going to enjoy their workout.
See you tomorrow Fitties!