3 Lessons I Learned From Being A Plus-Size Zumba Instructor

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As I neared the elliptical one afternoon, a sound from across my local gym caught me off guard. It was Meghan Trainor’s latest bop, “Me Too,” blaring through the speakers of an open studio. As a die-hard Trainor fan myself, I decided to investigate and entered the studio, only to find what would soon become one of my workout passions: Zumba.

I’d heard of the workout before having grown up performing in musical theatre. But Zumba? Isn’t that a mediocre workout for old women in jazz sneakers who only show up to gossip with their neighborhood friends?

Well, partially. But Zumba is much more than that. After my first class, bopping along to tunes by Meghan Trainor, Justin Bieber, and more, I became hooked. I took class three to four times a week and slowly made my way from the back of the studio to my permanent spot front and center. My confidence was glowing and all those surrounding me – the middle-aged women, the one teenage boy, the energetic instructor, and the bodybuilder-types staring at me through the windows – could see it.

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It came as a surprise, however, when my instructor told me that I should get certified and start teaching Zumba myself. I’d only been taking Zumba for about two months and knew nothing about teaching a workout class.

But here was the heaviest roadblock: I’m fat. Not curvy. Not a little overweight. I am plus-size in all of its fabulosity. But no matter how confident and proud I was in who I am, how could I expect others to take me seriously as a workout instructor when I wasn’t thin and muscular?

Despite the nerves, despite the judgy faces I knew I would get, despite the fact that I had only been taking Zumba for two months, I did it. I got certified, I began teaching, and I learned a whole lot more about myself than I expected to.

Being a male plus-size Zumba instructor certainly comes with its struggles, but also with its triumphs. I learned so many life lessons from dancing my heart out each week; life lessons that I carry with me to this day, whether that be in a dance class or in everyday life.

All fitness instructors will mess up at one point or another. In one of my first classes, I completely forgot the choreography to one song and made everyone step-touch for a minute until I could remember.

Yes, getting in that great workout is a serious task, but with an energetic routine like Zumba, you must remember to have fun and laugh, even if it’s at one of your own mistakes. So whether you’re trying Zumba for the first time or another fitness class, go into the studio with a smile and lots of positive energy.

When receiving your Zumba certificate, one of the first things that’s explained is how energetic you must be in class. Most often, the men and women taking the class will be half as energetic as you are, so if you want them to give 100%, then you must give 200% or more.

It seems exhausting, I know. Despite how many classes I had taken before I got certified, I was panting for air after teaching my first hour-long session. But as the weeks went on, here’s what I noticed: your energy is infectious. The more you give out, the more they give you back and the more excited they are to come to class each week.

And, of course, I have to mention that giving 200% of my energy each class sure did prove that being plus-size means nothing when it comes to slaying a workout.

Yes, as you enter the studio or gym, some people may look at you with skeptical, somewhat judgy looks. Despite the fact that it’s 2018, the false mindset that plus-size people are not active still exists. But when the music is blaring and the Zumba students are ready to go, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you give them a fabulous hour of entertaining exercise. If you focus on your weight, you will hold yourself back.

This is a lesson that’s applicable in all situations, not just in a Zumba class. Despite the stereotypes, plus-size people like myself must continue to prove that weight is not a roadblock. No matter your size or shape, you must continue to prove and show how spectacular you are at your craft. If you’re utterly self-conscious, you will always be held back from reaching your goals. If you are exuberant with confidence, others look right past your size and see you for who you truly are.

Words by Gianluca Russo

Source:: MTV — News