Why I’m Completely Okay With Messing Up as a Zumba Instructor

My Zumba teaching style is probably best described as… unpredictable.

I usually don’t know which songs we’ll be doing until I’m already 2 songs in, I’ve never followed the order of my playlist, and I choreograph and practice in my head…in the car on the way to class. I don’t know if I don’t do well practicing “in person,” or if I’m just lazy… I’m going to stick with “I’m a mental learner.”

What I DO know about my classes is the following:

I owe it to my students to provide them with clear cuing. I owe them big movements so that they can see me from any spot in the room. I owe them a fun playlist and a welcoming attitude. I owe them smiles. I owe them a good memory of their names. And their favorite songs.

I also owe them the ability to feel comfortable and goofy and like they don’t have to be perfect. I owe them a non-judgmental environment. I owe them an hour where they can be wholly themselves and completely let go.

To do so, I never assume why a person is at my class. It could be a for a number of reasons- improved stamina, stress relief, decreased boredom, friendly support, strength- or none of the above.

If you’re a group fitness instructor who has never gotten a move wrong, never said the opposite of what you meant (story pause: one time I shouted “DON’T BREATHE!” because I mixed “don’t hold your breath!” with “keep breathing!” and couldn’t choose between the two. It happened so fast that by the time the next beat dropped, it was too late to take it back!), and/or always has their hair and make-up on point…that’s great.

I, personally, am not the most confident person in the world and so having a seemingly perfect instructor is sometimes too intimidating to bring me back for a second class. And as an instructor myself, I now have an even greater appreciation for anytime someone trips on uneven flooring or accidentally leaves an unedited version of a song on their playlist.

I have done both of those things and more. In fact, I have: Started talking to a student mid-song and cued the wrong step. Gotten distracted by the cute front desk guy through the window and missed a move. Been so winded that I needed multiple water breaks between songs even when my students didn’t.

And that’s okay.

Because in Zumba there are no mistakes…only accidental solos. 😉

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