A blog is supposed to be focused on a particular topic; something related to the author’s cause or the body of work they produce. For me that is adoption, but to tell you the truth, we adoptees don’t just think of one subject and one subject only over the course of our day or weeks, so for today, all you readers out there get to see another side of this adoptee’s life: What it’s like to be a fitness instructor!

6:00 PM,  Driving to Zumba, ™ class:

“Got my speaker. Yes. Got phone. Yes. Which playlist am I doing tonight? Um, I did Zumba ™ playlist five last time so I guess it’s six this week. They’re gonna think that one song on there is dumb, but oh well, I’m the instructor….It’s a good tune because it’s different and kinda like hearing two songs…I like that kind of music…It’s like a bargain…two songs in one…Keeps things interesting…Can’t forget to buy gas on the way home…I know I have a bunch of Kroger points so gas should be cheaper and I will have a whole tank to fill…Wonder if Sara is going to be at Zumba ™ …I think Sara is my favorite student…I am proud of her for overcoming obstacles and getting hired to gather carts and bag groceries, but her time in Zumba ™ class depends on how she is scheduled with the access bus…She loves my manicure and wants to see my nails every time…She also loves it if I play that Bruno Mars song…OK, if Sara is there I will play the playlist that has Uptown Funk on it. That settles that…

6:30 PM, Setting up for class:

Plug speaker into wall outlet, push the button…check…queue up my iTunes…check…play a snippet of a song to test the sound…Good…It’s annoying how the technology is different in every club I work at. I feel stupid when I have to ask the front desk workers for help. It’s so much nicer toting around my own system. Some ladies complain the music isn’t loud enough…Some think it’s plenty loud and could I turn it down just a touch…Hard to please everyone but I do my best…That one lady who knows a friend of mine and told my friend I need to “rev up my class more”? Sorry, but if she would quit taking breaks to look at her phone during the workout, then maybe she would feel more challenged and notice the results…Can’t tell adults what to do like you can with young kids at school…

…There’s Bruno all set to go…

One time Sara was the only person who came to class, and she was crying the whole time about a guy she liked who didn’t like her back, so we spent the exercise session sitting on the gym floor talking about how it’s hard to find a nice boy to date but I told her she should be particular and hold out for the best because the good ones do call you back and tell you the truth…Sara is intellectually-challenged and innocent. I sure hope a dude never takes advantage of her. Her mom can get Sara pampered in salons and spas and have her looking like a movie star with manis, makeup, and highlights, but at age 30, she is still a naive, sweet girl, like how my own daughters were around the age of ten…Sara thinks pretty nail polish is all it takes to get a guy…

The door to the exercise room squeaks a little and I hear keys jingling and look up from setting my phone. OK…we have people…It’s showtime…Some are familiar faces…a couple of new ladies…They take their places on the floor…The regulars have their spots…I’ve never seen anyone get nasty over someone standing in someone else’s place, but I hear that can happen…I have my preferred “perch” too when I go to my own workout place. (Yep, just like how many therapists see a therapist, I’m a fitness instructor who gets instructed by others. I can learn from taking other’s classes.) My special place in the exercise room is by the window where I can look out and use a tree as my focal point when we have to hold the eagle position or do power leg stances at the barre. Next time I go to my own exercise class,  maybe I should try a new spot so as to not be too set in my ways…

“Hi, my name is Paige. Has everyone here been to Zumba ™ before?” They all nod yes, even the two new ladies. Never ask ‘has anyone NOT done Zumba ™ before’ because members might lie anyway, and it could shame someone new who doesn’t know a soul here. “Welcome if I’ve not seen you before; let’s get started”. I see Sara is all ready to go in the front row, marching before I even start the music. I hit the play button.

I always choose a warm-up song that’s easy, especially for me. It means I start with an assured feeling. I can’t mess up. In these high-end swanky clubs the pressure to be excellent is really on. I don’t have a dance background like many of my instructor colleagues. (I’d quit ballet at the end of 2nd grade when a mean girl punched my ballet box and broke it.)

As a substitute instructor with experience, I have learned you can make a few errors and just keep moving. If the attendees in class don’t know your routines, they will probably not know you goofed if you just keep going. Still, I want the opening song to be just right. It sets the tone for the next 50 or so minutes.

…Oh my gosh! I love that lady’s shoes. I wonder where she bought them? From here they look like Asics…Nice! Turquoise and purple! Now I want new shoes. When I get home, I’ll look on Amazon or Zappos…

I wonder if any of these people here are adopted like me. I know of two local Zumba ™ instructors who are adoptees: Marie and Lydia and my online instructor friend from New York, Anne. (OK adoptee readers, you got your adoption tie-in! : )

Hey, Look at Ruth out there! Ruth is 90 and lives for Zumba ™ night. She wouldn’t miss this class for the world. She just stands on the side out of people’s way and shuffles along, but she’s happy, waving her hands in the air and swaying. She’s like a real-life video meme of those peppy, sassy, little old grannies who break out into salsa and mambo moves on their front porch. Last week she told me she was going home after class to move furniture so she could repaint her dining room!

I want to be Ruth some day.

The manager at the club will be happy since six people have come to my class, and attendance is usually low at this time slot. For this small club, six is a good number. It’s not like the video clips of Zumba classes you see on YouTube with 50 people packed in the room and everyone glistening and glowing with perspiration, precision-toned, ripped arms and abs, while wearing brand-name, neon-colored fitness attire. Most of us are just a bunch of moms and grandmas from Ohio trying to get a little work out in before we have to go home and figure out dinner….

Anyone who says, “I can’t do Zumba ™ ” has never tried MY Zumba ™ class. I’m a good instructor. I’m not a showboat getting my own work out on in front of people. I’ve seen instructors make this mistake. Zumba ™ class is not my show. It’s their show; the attendees’ show. Yes, I get my cardio in too. How can you not if you teach a good class? Still, my job is to create a “safe space”, literally and figuratively, for class members to try new moves and feel at ease. I want people to come back again because they feel like, “Hey! I can do this!”

Before I taught fitness I was one of them, and due to time constraints would end up going to the McDonald’s drive-thru on my way back home to get my kids fed at a decent hour. Seems kinda counter-productive to being fit to have to live that way in the outside world, but for the 50 or so minutes we are together I give my class members a break from children, their jobs, house chores, friends, elder-care, and spouses. They just want to move freely and not feel stressed or obligated. Zumba ™ is their fun and maybe the only self-care or social connecting these folks get.

I don’t think of myself as teaching Zumba ™ . I see myself as leading it. Sometimes pulling away in my car from my cozy house especially on a bad weather evening, feels like a bummer, but once I arrive at a gym or a studio, I never regret being there or choosing to maintain my Zumba ™  credentials. I’ll stay a fitness instructor for as long as I possibly can. I want and like being there for the Ruths and Saras and hope there are places and instructors out there for me for many years to come. No matter who you are, never stop moving. Never stop trying. Find a happy spot on the floor in the front, by a window or along the side, wave your hands in the air, and just keep going!

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  • jenbobenny  On July 20, 2018 at 2:06 am

    I have never actually done Zumba…I think it’s awesome you are an instructor!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: