First Impression: Aqua Zumba

A week ago I left Ottawa and started my big adventure! Saying goodbye to my family is always tough, but I’m so grateful I got to spend about a month with them before I left. They’re all so important to me and I really value the time we spend together.

Robyn and I workin' it in our '80s gear
Robyn and I workin’ it in our ’80s gear

From Ottawa I went to the Okanagan Valley. After living there this past year, visiting my sister Robyn and her husband Chris felt like coming to my home away  from home. The mountains are so beautiful when they’re covered in snow. Our week was filled with good chats, great food, some movies, and a little bit of work.

The weekend was a different story. I was gearing up for a Zumba packed couple of days. On the Friday there was a Zumbathon in Vernon, which was an hour and a half class that cost $20, and the proceeds went to charity. There was a whole bunch of local instructors as well as my sister Robyn and her friend Tamara, who are both Zumba Education Specialists. I got to help lead the warm up with Robyn and Tamara, which was a really fun and cool experience. After I got over the blinding spotlight that was shining in my face, I eased into “Im’ma Be” and things got a little groovy (or gangsta. Little bit of both.)

On Saturday Robyn had a full B1 training that I helped out with, and on Sunday Tamara had an Aqua Zumba training. I got to participate in the Aqua master class, which was sweet. In one of my first blog posts ever I talked about my first encounter with Zumba and my awkward hips. Now I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with the program, so I was like “oh yeah, Aqua Zumba should be great. I love Zumba.” It was definitely a ton of fun, but so different than regular Zumba. It’s a good thing my legs were underwater because otherwise everyone would’ve seen how much I struggled with getting my feet going in the right direction. Nevertheless, it was a great workout and so much fun. The music was fantastic and the whole class was high energy. Tip: if all else fails, flail your arms and splash around.

Sunday night is when things went awry. We were all exhausted from the weekend and just stopped making sense.  After a little debate, we decided to get coffee for our ride home from Kelowna, cause let’s face it — life is just to short. However, the first time we went through the drive through we literally just drove through. We missed the speaker and there was a car behind us so we couldn’t back out, so after a quick hello wave to the counter person we looped around and finally got our coffee.

Once we got back to Armstrong I had to run into the store to pick up some sour cream. Let’s just say I was a little self conscious of my appearance. To put it lightly, I looked like a tired girl with crazy hair who had walked straight out the 80s. To make matters worse, when I came out of the store I beelined for the first truck

I saw and swung open the back door right away. Surprisingly enough, after seeing the startled driver I thought to myself “that isn’t Robyn” — it was a surprised young girl. I don’t know what’s worse: this poor girl going through the shock of some

random person opening her car door, or having to look at my appearance. Meanwhile, Robyn and Tamara were parked a good 5 or 6 car parking spots away. I blame the high intensity aqua workout.

Summer Party-2

ZUMBA! Plus awkward hips, smiles, and inspiration.

Lately I’ve been immersed in a Zumba-filled environment. You might be thinking “uh Grace, Zumba isn’t even a word…I thought you work at a newspaper. Shouldn’t you know how to spell?” Correct — it’s not in the dictionary and I should know how to spell. It’s actually the name of a company. ‘Zumba Fitness LLC’ is a Latin/international dance fitness program — and people are going crazy over it.

My sister Robyn is a Zumba education specialist (ZES) and I met up with her in Edmonton two weekends ago for a couple of workshops. My sister Nadine and I were her assistants as she taught people how to become instructors.

Nadine, me, and Robyn selling Zumba wear. hollllaaa!

The next weekend when we got back to BC I ended up taking her workshop (so yes, technically I’m now a certified instructor. I still need an excessive amount of instruction though, so I won’t be instructing any others any time soon unless it’s on how to take a break.) No, this won’t be a blog post describing how awkward it is to do body roles and how my hips are a little too connected to the rest of my body. It also won’t be about the time when I was doing a Salsa move a little too aggressively and ended up knocking over a woman in front of me… (don’t worry. That was only a horrifying dream.)

The best part of the Zumba training was seeing someone doing something they’re truly passionate about. Robyn is passionate about dance and fitness, but her passion for people and developing relationships is ten fold.

During the lecture portion, Robyn talked about the importance of the role of an instructor. She said that as instructors, they have the responsibility and privilege to make people feel special. She pointed out that some people go through a whole day without being acknowledged or even smiled at — it’s important to remember that you don’t know what people go through and what their life is about. By simply smiling at someone from the stage, saying “hi, how are you” or “I love your new haircut,” you can make an individual feel really special because finally someone noticed them. This doesn’t only pertain to Zumba instructors — this attitude can be a lifestyle. We all know dance is the universal language, but I’d say smiling is as well. One of my favourite pass times is laughing, and I love that no matter what language people speak, smiling and laughter always mean the same thing.

I discovered that no matter what your daily routine is, you can make a difference in someone’s life in just a couple of seconds — and I know this works. Everyone in the room felt special because Robyn made sure she took the time to acknowledge each person.

Afterwords I was helping Robyn by typing up the evaluations that the participants filled out after taking the workshop. There were many comments that said participants left the workshop feeling “inspired.” Being inspired is one of my absolute favourite feelings in the world. I love when I become inspired by someone or something. Robyn has a job where she is a catalyst for inspiration, which is the ultimate goal for me. I hope that I end up doing something I am equally passionate about where I can ignite some inspiration in others. Robyn could literally introduce herself like this: “Hi, I’m Robyn and I’m a catalyst for inspiration. My favourite colour is purple and I think it’s hilarious when people shake a floppy fist when they’re angry.”

People always seem to ask “what do you want to do after school?” or “what’s your career going to be?” To be honest, I only have broad ideas and don’t have a definite answer — and I’m not too worried about it. The most important thing to me is that I make a difference in peoples lives, and I can do that in pretty much whatever career I choose. I can even accomplish this by letting the public witness my awkward hips while doing Latin dance. Who doesn’t like a good laugh at something ridiculous like that.

Robyn doing in her thang in Edmonton