When I first started teaching group fitness I taught HIIT and strength class variations. As I was teaching, I was always taking classes, and somewhere along the way I became exposed to Zumba. Within that year or so I decided that I want to add Zumba to the mix as well.
Some people know me as a fitness instructor because that’s what I was teaching when they first met me. Others know me as a Zumba instructor because that’s the class they’ve taken with me long after I started teaching. Both sides are surprised when they see me teaching the other formats. That’s always funny to me.
Hey Angel, are we doing Zumba today? I thought it said “Total body.” Oh, you teach this too?
Ah, the pleasure I get from seeing the look of shock on their faces once I get things going and their bodies start to scream. I was a fairly good fitness instructor before I ever taught Zumba, and I became a fairly good Zumba instructor long after being good at other formats. I aim to be the best version of myself that I can. I try to be a good instructor and set a fine example regardless of the format.
In any case, most of you will not know this, but I used to get really anxious when I taught a class. You may also not know this, but before I started teaching any classes, I was a regular participant in classes. I still take classes these days, but not as much as I used to because I am teaching myself much of the time. So before I became a Zumba instructor I was a fitness instructor. But before I became a fitness instructor I was a class participant.
Hard to believe I’m sure. I think that folks think we are just born this way or catapulted into this role. Did you know that when I started this journey, I was almost 300 pounds heavy. I’ve improved, but in my mind, I’m still struggling to get past that guy. People are always shocked to hear this, but I really have struggled with confidence at times. In the beginning I’d sometimes spend up to half an hour sitting on the toilet before teaching cause I was so nervous. I almost puked more than once, again, due to nervousness. I’m naturally a very shy and timid person, believe it or not.
One of the reasons I wanted to start teaching is because I thought it could be a form of self prescribed therapy for me. As I mentioned, I’m terribly shy and become really anxious in large groups. So what better approach to take in hopes of facing those fears than getting on a stage in a room filled with up to 80 people?
How about being the center of attention, while wearing hot pink tights and girating your hips? Check! If that won’t do it, I don’t know what will. Teaching helps me with anxiety, fear, shyness and a host of other things. I believe that it’s helped make me a better person overall. Finally, it keeps me accountable to not only myself, but also to you. What kind of leader would I be, what kind of example would I be setting if I didn’t stay active and in shape? How could I dare step on stage and presume to tell you how to get fit, if I can’t even do it myself? Accountability.
Most days, though I do get butterflies on occasion, I don’t get nearly as nervous as I used to. Most days, but whenever I add a new song, sub for a new group, go to a new gym, or start a new class there is always a touch of those early feelings of sheer terror. I’ve improved, but I don’t think you ever truly stop being who you are. You adapt, adjust, overcome, but you are always you.
With all that being said, I’m a bit nervous about this new class that I’ve started on Fridays at 730pm at 24 Hour Fitness in Kew Gardens. Fridays tend to be relatively quiet at this specific gym and though people show up for classes, there’s never been overwhelming attendance on a Friday night. I’m looking to change that now.
Historically, an instructor named Russell taught Pilates in that slot for years and years and years. He was teaching that format since I first restarted my fitness journey. Russ was transferred to another location so we don’t have the pleasure of him teaching us anymore. But anyone who knows Russell knows that those are some really big shoes to fill.
Here’s another tidbit, taking his classes and watching him do his job is what inspired me to become an instructor. So yes, big shoes and his group was an entirely different demographic, “Mind and body,” whole different world.
Well, here’s what I do know, I know what I can do, so there’s that. I’m perfectly aware that I can bring it and I know that I can hold it down! So despite the pressure and anxiety I’m feeling, I’ll just keep doing what I do and build this new class up from scratch!
So there, now you know a bit more about me and my psyche! If you want to dance, come on in on Fridays and shake it with me while knowing the demons I’ve overcome to be able to lead and teach you the way I do! If you think you can’t do it, think again, if I can do this, you can do this! Let’s get it!
Just a life long New Yorker sharing the journey through my lens. Please take note of a post’s date. The views I express here are subject to change and evolving as I grow and learn.