We are honored to have our very own Dance SPA owner and Zumba® Instructor in the 2012 fall issue of Zlife! If you are new to Zumba® Fitness or a regular student, this article should make you feel great about getting your groove on with out worrying about who is watching. It’s never too late to get started and boogie, shimmy and shake your way to a healthier YOU!
What is Zlife?
“Z-LIFE™ magazine is the official publication of Zumba Fitness and is published quarterly, with spring, summer, fall and winter issues. Z-LIFE seeks to bring the Zumba Fitness philosophy to page by applying the passion, energy and joy that our community brings to fitness to all aspects of their lives. By viewing everything from beauty and wellness to style, music and travel through the Zumba Fitness lens, we are able to show our dedicated followers, as well as the population at large, just what it means to live a true Z-LIFE.”
FRONT AND CENTER-ZLIFE Fall 2012
When you get to your regular Zumba class, where do you usually claim your spot? In the back row where you can barely see your instructor’s hip shake, or up in front where the class can follow your lead? Getting the confidence to join the instructor in the first row (or even up on stage) can take anywhere from a few classes to a few months, depending on the person, but experts say that the adrenaline rush and resulting confident attitude can benefit aspects of your life way beyond the studio.
“It can give you more confidence to speak up in the work place. Zumba class is a great opportunity to start testing out the self-confidence to be seen and fully participate,” says Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., a health psychologist at Stanford University, Zumba Fitness instructor and author of “The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More Of It.”
Experts agree: If you can get up on the stage in a Zumba class, leading a meeting or asking for a promotion can feel less stressful. Zumba instructor Nicole Lanciano of Salsa in the Suburbs in Media, Pa., says she has seen clients become more socially outgoing, look more relaxed, and wear more fitted clothing after being in the front row. “They accomplished something they set their mind to. Those accomplishments build confidence, maybe confidence in dating, friendship and confidence in trying new things,” she says.
Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., author of “A Happier You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness,” says that the positive self-talk you practice in Zumba class can act as a form of exercise for the mind. “Your brain doesn’t say that it’s only a Zumba class. It’s like flexing a muscle. If you fles a muscle at the gym, you’re going to be stronger when you go out,” she explains.
Positioning yourself at the front of the class can also improve your technique. “People underestimate how your brain’s neuron system picks up what you see so much better when you are closer to the teacher. Your brain will be able to pick up the steps so much more quickly,” says McGonigal.
Chicago-based instructor Christa South, who teaches to more than 200 participants in some classes, loves it when she finds herself with a row of backup dancers on stage. She says a favorite song is usually what spurs them to jump up on the stage and join her. “They get a high from getting up there and having fun,” she adds. Though South loves dancing and performing, she admits that it can be a little scary…even for a veteran instructor. “It’s always a little intimidating when nobody knows you. Find a smile in the room. Focus on that person to give you that positive feedback that you need. Be confident. Relax and be you; that’s the best thing you can do,” says South.
All the instructors agree that getting the gumption to get your groove onstage probably isn’t going to happen overnight. “Give yourself time to become comfortable with the teacher, the moves, the routine, listen to the music,” says South. “Say to yourself ‘I’m going to give myself time. If I want to get up there, I’ll get up there!”
TAKE ACTION…Get up and dance! These steps can help you to conquer your group fitness stage fright and bolster your workout too!
TAKE THE FOCUS OFF OF YOU. “Sometimes we are so focused on whether we are doing it right and staring in the mirror, that we are not getting the full benefits of group fitness. As soon as you take the attention off of yourself, and focus on the teacher and the people around you, that is going to keep you motivated,” says McGonigal. “We know know from scientific research that when you feel a connection to a group that you are working out with, you get a better workout and you also get more benefits from it physically and emotionally.”
SILENCE YOU INNER SIMON COWELL. Turn off the inner recording, especially if it says things like “I feel so blah. I’m a total klutz next to these music video dancers.” Walk into Zumba class with the intent to clear your mind, suggests Lombardo. Don’t think about whether you are doing the steps perfectly. Ask yourself if you are enjoying the class. “That’s a real mind shift. If you take the focus off of that, then you can put the focus on fun,” she says.
ATTACK THE FEAR HEAD-ON! “Ask yourself, what am I really afraid of? Is it that you are not confident about your body? Then decide to try and lose a few pounds, or just decide to accept yourself as you are,” says Lanciano. If you are afraid that you don’t know what you are doing, ask the instructor to go over a few moves after class. Chances are, other students who are lingering after class will take mental notes too. “The reality of Zumba class is that everyone in the room, especially the teacher, wants to see people having fun. Zumba instructors are most passionate about people who feel the need to hide in the back row,” says McGonigal. South agrees, “I think of fear as being restrictive. In class like Zumba Fitness, where you are moving every part of your body, if you’re fearful, you’re probably not hitting all the moves to the degree that they’re meant to be hit so you are not maximizing your workout.”
AVOID THE MIRROR. McGonigal says that staring in the mirror can actually magnify stage fright. Focusing on the music or the teacher and allowing yourself to watch others dance instead of comparing yourself to them will help you loosen up and forget your fears. Jessica Bartoletti of Studio Once in Woodstock, N.Y., says the most important thing for her is to stay operational within fear. “Preparation allows me to keep moving, even if fear is present. Once I see the smiles in the class, I focus on that and the fear fades away,” she says.
ROLE PLAY. “Imagine that you are on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ or any setting where it would naturally unleash the kind of adrenaline that increases your effort and your enjoyment ,” says McGonigal. Pick your favorite diva, be it Tina Turner or Shakira, and try to channel that to break away from yourself. This way, whether or not you get up on stage, you can get a vicarious rush, and this will help you open up. “There is this fear of being watched. Once you get over that then you can get a better workout because you are less likely to hold back. One positive or confident change can lead to other changes,” says South.
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