I have discussed Jam sessions previously and why you should go to them in my post here. But, as a quick reminder, a ZIN Jam session is a 3-hour workshop where ZIN members can learn 4-5 songs from a licensed Zumba Jammer “ZJ” that you can teach the next day in your class.
A ZJ as described by Zumba is:
“A Zumba Jammer is a ZIN Member who specializes in Zumba choreography and has been officially selected and licensed by Zumba Fitness, LLC (Home Office) to host ZIN Jam sessions. Only licensed Zumba Jammers may lead a ZIN Jam session.”
Now let me introduce the next Jammer in the series “Interview with A Jammer”, Courtney Ackerman!
I have admired Courtney from afar mostly seeing as I’ve only had a handful of encounters with her to date. But every one of them has been simply marvelous.
She has been kind and welcoming to me when we’ve been in contact even though we mostly see each other on social media.
And the energy she gives us just yells “good vibes.”
She jams all over yet her home is Arizona, which is a little bit far for me to drive, but I plan to jam with her the next opportunity I get. Or maybe I can convince her to jam in Orange County.
Without further adieu, here is what I got to learn about the fabulous Courtney.
1. Basic Facts – name, location, type of Jammer (i.e. choreo, salsa, etc.), where you jam, how long you’ve been an instructor, how long you’ve been a jammer, “day job” or other work you do besides Zumba
Zumba Jammer Courtney: Courtney “Court” Ackerman, Surprise, AZ (NW suburb of Phoenix), Choreo Jammer, I am a travelling jammer mainly on the West Coast but have also jammed in the Midwest (Chicago, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota) as well as Atlanta, GA and Texas.
I have been a ZIN since July 2012 and became a dual Jammer (Choreo and Cumbia) in May 2014 but have done strictly Choreo Jams since 2016. I am a fitness instructor by trade, teaching not only Zumba Fitness formats but also I am also a stay at home mom to 4 amazing kids!
2. SeasonofFitness:Why did you decide to become a Zumba instructor?
ZJ Court: I come from a dancing background. I found Zumba in January 2012 when my daughter asked me to go and take a class at our local gym where we were members. I was reluctant at first; I had not danced in years and was overweight. I decided to give it a try and fell in love with it instantly. I took every class I could get my hands on and about 5 months later one of my instructors urged me to become licensed.
3. SOF:Who and/or what inspired or helped you become a Zumba Jammer (ZJ)?
ZJ Court: I took my first ZIN Jam Session in September 2012 after only being a ZIN for about 2 months. My first Jam was with Eric Aglia. I came home that afternoon and told my husband how there was this cool job called a Zumba Jammer who choreographed routines (which I had done as a dance student all my life) and I wanted to figure out what I had to do to become one.
My second Jam I was lucky enough to jam with Alena Groopman and I was hooked after that. Eric and I became friends over the years and when the call came out for Rhythm Jammers I called him and he told me I should go for it. So I did!
4. SOF:Describe a jam session in only 3 words.
ZJ Court: Community, Education, FUN!
5. SOF: What was your favorite song to choreograph/teach and why?
ZJ Court: Oh my goodness! I have so many! Currently my favorite song to teach that I choreographed is Quedate Conmigo by Chyno Miranda. I just love how the song makes me feel when it comes on! The moves came effortless to me and my class loves that one and always asks for me to put it back in my playlist.
6. SOF: Where do you find your songs that are not from ZIN?
ZJ Court: Friday is dedicated to listening to new music. I subscribe to Spotify and listen to New Music Friday playlists all morning and find new songs that catch my ear.
7. SOF: What is your ‘go to’ dance move?
ZJ Court: My go to move…. Hahaha Meli Kirkwood says I have a “COURT” Step… It is in a semi squat and I call it the “knee in step” you bring your knee in and your fist comes to the same hip and then do the other side… It is my GO TO move when in doubt!
8. SOF: What’s your favorite rhythm to dance to and why?
ZJ Court: Cumbia!! MACHETE!! It’s funny, I actually come from a jazz/hip hop background and when the rhythm call came out for jammers, everyone expected me to go for Reggaeton Jammer, but Cumbia has always caught my ear. It is such a proud and graceful rhythm and I love working with the steps outside of the box and creating choreo.
9. SOF: What rhythm is the most challenging for you and why?
ZJ Court: Samba and anything with a booty pop/twerking element. HAHA I am getting better at it for sure, but Samba with those crazy feet and hips… ugh it takes this white girl awhile to get into it.
10. SOF: What’s your biggest pet peeve as an instructor?
ZJ Court: TIME! I believe that everyone’s time is precious and hate hearing that other instructors start late or end late. I am a stickler for time because I have 4 kids and I am always multitasking and trying to get everything done, so when I come to an event or hold a jam, I know everyone else’s’ time is just as precious as mine… Honor people’s time! They will respect you for it!
11. SOF: What other formats do you teach (Zumba and non-Zumba)?
ZJ Court: POUND, Cardio Hip Hop, and will start teaching Pop Pilates in the coming New Year. I am also licensed to teach AMP Cycle with Lifetime Fitness.
12. SOF: Do you have any embarrassing/funny ZJ moments?
ZJ Court: I am sure I have a ton of them! We all have our moments. I think the most embarrassing thing is usually when I try to describe a move and give it a name and it comes out “dirty” when I don’t intend it to. I usually turn a nice shade of pink or red when I realize what I just said!
13. SOF: What are your hobbies outside of Zumba?
ZJ Court: I love to read. I didn’t as a kid, but started reading aloud to my kids at night and now I am a night owl book worm. If I get into a good one I can be up all night reading.
14. SOF: What inspires you to stay a ZJ?
ZJ Court: I love the connection to the ZIN. I love being accessible and being that person that they can ask a question and not be worried that it was a “stupid” one. I know there are many ZINs that weren’t as lucky as I was to have great mentors so I want to be open and accessible to them.
15. SOF: What advice do you have for participants to get the most out of your sessions?
ZJ Court: Listen to the music! It comes out early for a reason. When you listen to the music many times ahead of time I think it is much easier to retain the choreography because at the jam you just have to learn the moves, not the music parts and the moves all together.
That can be really overwhelming. And I am accessible.
If you love a choreo and are having a hard time remembering after the jam, contact me! I have many times done a FaceTime stream from my living room to help you remember parts. I am here for you not just during the jam, but after as well!
It has been my pleasure getting to know a bit more about Courtney and if you get the chance to dance with her, definitely do! Check out her website for more info.
Thank you for your time Courtney and I hope to dance (or host) you soon!