New to teaching Zumba Fitness? Congrats on embarking on a fun fitness journey to helping people! Being a new instructor can be a bit overwhelming. Your head may be swimming with all the new information you just learned from your Basic 1 (B1) training and you’re just not quite sure where to start.
In this post, I’m going to share some tips that I like to give to new instructors that I have found to be useful. I’ve helped a handful of my students become instructors and they have had success when following them.
When I first got my license, I didn’t have anyone to mentor me. I didn’t reach out for help from the two instructors I had been taking class with. I was too shy to ask for help or advice. So, I struggled on my own with learning new routines and experiencing the typical emotions you feel when first teaching. I felt frustrated and discouraged at times. Since I didn’t discuss those feelings with other instructors it made me feel alone in those feelings, as though I was doing something wrong. Which was not the case but, without affirmation it wasn’t easy to deal with.
In retrospect, I wish I had asked for help or advice more. But that’s over and done with so what I like to do is offer my help to new instructors. I want to minimize those first frustrations as much as I can. No one should feel like they have to go through the experience alone.
Now, I don’t claim to be an expert by any means. I’m constantly learning and growing still. You can take these tips any way you see fit.
Tip #1 – Practice Practice Practice
Like I’ve said before, “practice means progress”. Progress means you’ll get better and improve. Once you decide on what songs you want on your playlist for class, listen to them a million times and practice them until you’re sick of hearing those songs. The choreography (choreo) for the routines may be from your Zumba Instructor Network (ZIN) volume you received when you signed up for the program, routines you do in a class that you attend, or routines from videos found online on sites such as YouTube. You may also attend a ZIN Jam Session where you would have learned songs. Whichever choreography you decide to use, watch the videos a few times till you can do the routine without watching the video.
ALSO, incorporate your cueing while practicing the routine. Even if you are at home dancing in your bedroom you should cue just like there’s a whole class following you. Cue to your pet if you need to. I cue to my cats sometimes. They look at me like I’m crazy but, it helps. Think of your cueing as a part of the choreo; the cues you incorporate should become a part of your moves. This will create muscle memory for those cues; that way when you are teaching an actual class it’s one less thought taking up your brain power because your body will remember the movement on its own. Remember you should ALWAYS be cueing your routines so the students can follow you without guessing what comes next.
Side note on cueing: Don’t cue as you do the movement; you need to cue a couple of counts before you change moves. The best analogy I have heard for this was to think of yourself as a GPS giving directions. If a GPS tells you turn as you are supposed to be turning, you’ll likely miss the turn. That’s why a GPS tells you to “turn in 0.2 miles.” Use this same logic when it comes to cueing your students.
Now depending on whether you have decided to face your students or the mirror while you’re teaching will determine which foot you will be leading with while practicing. If you plan to face your students, start with your left foot so they are on their right foot while dancing. If you plan to face the mirror start with your right foot since they will be following you from behind.
I HIGHLY recommend teaching your class facing your students for the majority of class. In a separate post I will discuss why I recommend this.
Tip #2 – Auditions
In my experience finding places to audition at is easiest if you know an instructor from that location that can put you in contact with the group fitness manager. Even if you don’t currently know anyone, attend a class and introduce yourself to the instructor and let them know you are looking for a place to teach. Most instructors will not get offended by this and will know the route to go to get an audition with the location.
Every location will be different on how they want you to audition. The key things to remember when you go to your audition are:
- Know your routines. Know them so well you could do them in your sleep. This means including your cueing as well.
- I recommend you audition facing the students/manager even if you plan to teach your actual class facing the mirror. Most group exercise managers look at this as a huge plus from instructors.
- If you have to perform multiple songs, pick songs in different rhythms to show variety.
- Most importantly…SMILE! Be yourself. Let your personality shine through.
Tip #3 – Just do it!
One of the hardest things to do when you first start out is to teach your first class. When it comes time for you to teach your first full class you will NEVER feel ready. No matter how many times you have practiced your songs and your cueing, you won’t feel ready.
There’s nothing to it but to do it. You have to take the leap of faith and go for it. Will you mess up? More than likely. Does it matter? Not really. Everyone messes up, especially on their first class and at any point after that. I still slip up and I’ve been teaching for almost 6 years.
Once those first-class jitters are out of your system you can breathe and focus on what you need to improve on. You’ll only continue to get better.
Tip #4 – Don’t get discouraged
At first, all the different aspects will seem difficult to continually accomplish. With time, it does get easier. I repeat, it gets easier! With consistent practice and teaching your classes, cueing and learning new routines becomes simpler. If it feels like it is taking you longer than another instructor to improve, don’t worry about it. You are not that person and they are not you. Everyone learns skills at different speeds. It’s about you constantly growing into a better instructor. Not about comparing yourself to someone else. If you have setbacks, it’s okay to think on them. Don’t get hung up on them though. Reflect on them and move on.
I can almost guarantee any unsure feeling or frustration you will have other instructors have experienced too. Remember, you are never alone. There’s a huge community of instructors out there going through the same thing. Don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help or just to talk. I’m personally here for you. You can contact me with any question or comment.
If you are interested in participating in the free mentoring program Zumba offers to ZIN members check it out here. I am a mentor through the program so you can search my name if you would like be to be your mentor.