A week ago, I taught my very first, real live Zumba class.
So how was it?
It was terrifying. It was thrilling. It was so hard! I was way out of my comfort zone.
I spent the week and a half prior trying to choreograph an hours worth of songs. That doesn't sound like such a big deal, not really, until I realized how much work went into ONE song. I needed to do a variety of song styles, a variety of steps within each song, plus remember all the steps, plus cue the people trying to follow me, plus breathe, plus make it through the entire hour myself, plus somehow stop making my frowny 'I'm concentrating' face which often comes across as a frowny 'I'm a bitch' or 'I am constipated' face. And that's not even addressing the issues I have about a group of people staring at my ample behind.
And no, I'm not kidding, either.
Plus, when I get really nervous, I tend to hold my breath. Not holding my breath while dancing around (hopefully) energetically in front of a group of people is SO much harder than one would think.
In addition, I'm still searching for my personal Zumba style. I love Doreen because she's so expressive. I love Michelle because she feels the music. I love Susan because she is easy to follow and so sweet. I love Vickie because her choreography is fun and really dance-y. I feel like I'm a little bit like all of them, but not a lot like any of them. And that's totally fine...I just need to figure out how to let my personality shine through like they've all done. Mostly it will take practice. Lots and lots of practice. Lots and lots and LOTS of practice.
My first attempt at a playlist was ambitious. I love high energy, fast paced music. However, as I was working through routines, I was working on one song at a time. Putting 12 songs like that in a row was a bad idea. (Just in case you were wondering, my 14 song play list lasted 54.8 minutes. Holy exhaustion, Batman!) Unfortunately, I didn't truly realize this until I taught three songs in a row in two different Zumba classes on the same day. At the end of the third song in each class, I was gasping for air. Like, really contemplating asking for an oxygen tank gasping.
As it turns out, being in front of the group versus following along with the group is a totally different beast. So the day before I was teaching, I changed my playlist up - one faster, one slower...lather rinse repeat. Only problem with that? Then I was using songs I wasn't as familiar with and it made me even more nervous.
So Monday comes, I alternate between praying no one shows up and that lots of people do. It ended up being 4 people, one of which was a really good friend of mine (thanks again, Alicia!).
The hour went by in a blur. A big sweaty blur. Turns out that in all the haste to get the steps committed to memory, I totally forgot about practicing my cues. I mean, I thought I had them down going in, but in front of the class, if I was thinking about cuing, I would lose my place and mess up the steps. If I was concentrating on steps, I totally missed the cuing. And while I tried really hard to smile and make eye contact, I am pretty sure I looked a lot like the Joker - the Heath Ledger version. Not. Pretty.
Why someone didn't throw a shoe at me is a complete mystery!
But I survived. No one yelled "YOU SUCK!" at me, even though (truth be told) I really kinda did. But I was up there, trying my hardest. For sure. So hopefully that came through. And everyone has to start somewhere.
The next day I had an audition to become a Zumba sub. Shaking off the negatives from the night before, I showed up with a really positive attitude. This was only going to be three or four songs in another small group of people - none of which I even knew. Believe it or not, that makes it easier.
Just before class is scheduled to start, in walks the instructor and another Zumba instructor. Turns out she was auditioning too. Not gonna lie, my first thought was 'there is NO way I'm going to get this job over her.' She's really, really good. And thin. And experienced.
And my second thought was this - "yeah! There is NO WAY I'm going to get this job over her!" And just like that, the pressure was off. She could not have been any nicer or more encouraging to me, and even though we were technically competing for the same gig, she was super supportive when I went up there and just made the experience all around awesome. Afterwards, she was nice enough to give me pointers and advice and offer to let me do some songs in the classes she teaches regularly.
And in case you were wondering, yes she got the job...or at least I didn't. I don't know if the studio had more auditions set up or not.
But that's okay because the hardest part is over. It only gets better from here.