This blog post had a lot of potential titles.

One was Be Nice or Else, which is taken from this book by Winn Claybaugh, the motivational speaker for the 2010 Camp Do More hosted by Chalene Johnson.

Another title was “Remember, it’s just Zumba.” As in, no one is going to die. This isn’t brain surgery. So while it’s fab to be passionate about it and invest yourself in it, it’s important to remember, dude, it’s a fucking exercise class.

Got it?

Okay. Now I want you to watch some videos.

Trust me, don’t skip this part.

Finished?

Okay. So something has come up in the universe recently a few times and so I’m blogging it because I know I have some instructors, seasoned and new, who read this blog. Here it is. There is a FEAR that somewhere, someplace there are INFERIOR Zumba (registered trademark) instructors who are… brace yourselves… TEACHING CLASSES.

Yes. YES! I know. I was shocked to hear it too. I’m writing my congressman immediately.

Guys, readers… it’s just Zumba (registered trademark), okay? I get that it means a lot to us. A LOT. But it’s just exercise. And I want you to think of the very very BEST Zumba instructor you have ever seen in action. Picture them. Maybe it’s YOU, who knows.

Is that picture fixed in your mind? Clearly fixed? Maybe it’s Beto Perez, maybe it’s Tanya Beardsley… maybe it’s this girl right here:

I will DESTROYYYY you!

Now I want you to watch this:

Do you see my point? Zumba is awesome. I love it because it has given me, with my piddly amount of dance ability and creative energy, an outlet for those talents. And if, God forbid, somewhere there is someone with an equally scanty amount of talent pouring his/her heart and soul into a Zumba class somewhere, then by golly that person deserves the same right I have to put her creative energies into the universe.

The dancers in that video I posted (which, by the way, is one of my absolutely favorite ballets, Sir Anthony Tudor is just a gorgeous choreographer) are truly speaking the language of God with their bodies. And I am humbled and reverent every time I think I get to do even fraction of that for a living. It’s a privilege and EVERYONE deserves the opportunity to try it. Some may try and fail and some may try and eventually get good at it. But they deserve a chance. AND when they get good at it they should remember… it’s just Zumba. You may be the best damn Zumba instructor at Podunk Gym, USA, but… it’s still just Zumba.

It may be a lot of things, but it’s not art. So think of how you would want a “real” dancer to treat you. With contempt? Would you want them to sneer at your phrasing or technique? Roll their eyes at your cueing? Your musicality? Or your appearance?

Then don’t do it to other instructors. It’s NOT. NICE. Extend to other new instructors the same courtesy you would want extended to you by a master artist as they see you, a diletante, dabbling in what they’ve devoted their life to perfecting. And let’s be honest, you were probably afforded that same courtesy by other instructors when YOU were starting out. You think your shit did not stink when you started? Oh baby, please. People were nice to me when I started. They were nice to you too. Don’t be a dick (that was another optional title for this post).

I will never forget something that Chalene Johnson said during my TurboKick training and it was that she has no room for divas in her organization. I’ve never met Beto, but he has something similar in his B2 training manual. He encourages instructors to not get involved with rating other instructors. You know how it goes… students come to you and so-and-so is better than so-and-so and this instructor plays too much this and that instructor doesn’t play enough that. It’s EXTREMELY destructive to the organization when instructors get involved with this. It creates an atmosphere of backbiting and competition that just doesn’t need to be there (because this is supposed to be FUN!). And it’s extremely destructive to the instructor who gets a swollen head thinking he or she is 1000 times more amazing than everyone else in the community.

So that’s all I want to say. To my strugglers out there — keep on struggling. Fuck the naysayers, as 311 put it. Zumba instructors do not look better when they get together and snipe about who is and who is not worthy to lead a class. Zumba instructors DO look better when they’re nice.

So be nice. Remember, it’s supposed to be fun.