Waking up last Wednesday morning at 4:30 to get the car packed up for our trek to Florida, I kept thinking that what I needed more than five days of Zumba® Fitness classes was five days of rest. My body had been taking a beating in the classes I was teaching, my brain was tired of holding on to every last detail of our business, and on top of it all, I was trying to keep the class material fresh and new for students when I could barely remember what day it was.
My spirit, too, was just depleted. The opening of our studio was overwhelmingly joyous, but happiness and excitement can be just as exhausting as pain or sorrow. Not to mention that there was some pain involved in this birth. And my kids are always missing their dad and (and their dog is gone now, too) and I’m constantly wondering if they will resent all the time they have to spend in the studio and is doing an Insanity class together really family time? Also, the way the three of us in this trio fit together leaves me very often in the middle, staying calm and steady when one or the other needs to freak out for a minute. Even when on the inside I am not feeling calm and steady. And I don’t mind being in that place, really. But it takes a toll. It all takes a toll, the downs and the ups. And last Wednesday morning, I was tired. I fantasized about huddling up in the hotel with room service and the remote control, trying to shut out the craziness happening with the throngs of neon-clad instructors on the floors below. I needed a nap.
Or so I thought.
The Zumba Instructor Convention is a lot of splash and glitter and neon. Huge ballrooms with screens everywhere blasting branding messages, loud music at every turn, and the constant sound of jingling (you’d be amazed at what 8,000 people wearing the rubber Zumba bracelets with the little bells sound like). Sponsors handing out freebies and two stores full of Zumbawear to purchase and miles and miles of walking from one end of the event to the other. And people everywhere. As you may recall, I have this little anxiety thing. So constantly being in the middle of a gazillion strangers was at times enormously stressful.
But all of this spectacle and grandeur was all put together in such a magnificent way…for us. For all 8000 of us burned out instructors who second guessed coming there because we are all tired and spent from living our lives and doing our jobs and trying to make each of our own student feel like rock stars. And even in the midst of all of the noise, even when I was packed in to an event like a sardine or when someone would dance over into my space or step on my toe or when a concert would start 90 minutes late, what I felt was an enormous gratitude. Because all of these costumes and concerts and choreographed-to-the-last-second classes were all created to reenergize and revive each one of us. To make us excited again. To re-ignite our spark, so that we could go home and keep impacting lives. Starting with our own.
Samantha and I were very lucky last week. We got to experience the convention in a way thousands of other attendees did not. My worlds collided when a Fitbloggin’ friend invited us to a small cocktail party for media folks covering convention.
We got up close and personal with some home office staff, many of the instructors who appear on the DVDs that teach us choreography for our classes, and yes, Mr. Zumba himself, Beto Perez. He is constantly surrounded by security, handlers, and a swarm of fans who want a second to take a photo, and here I was that first night actually having his ‘people’ arrange a photo op just for us. It was so interesting to watch him circulate through the party with maybe just 50 of us in the room, shaking hands and posing for photos, making each thank you or nice to meet you sound fresh and genuine. I am constantly telling my students when they are presented with an opportunity to make something happen to take their moment, and that evening I had to take mine. I got to have an exchange with the man who invented the thing that has allowed me a livelihood. And I did it while wearing a trio fitness tee shirt, natch.
The week was full of this brand of moment-taking. A second of an exchange with Zumba Fitness CEO Alberto Perlman (like, he totally squeezed my arm and made eye contact guys!) was made even more meaningful after I learned he had been part of a conversation about how Zumba makes entrepreneurs, and the story of trio fitness was relayed to him. A compliment on my style from the instructor of what was probably my favorite dance class I’ve ever taken put a huge shot of self-confidence back in my heart. Receiving a handshake squeeze and a thank you from the man whose mixes I purchase for my classes every so often makes that music sound just a little clearer. And also? My friend invited me to stand on the mainstage – where the Zumba-lebrities had been dancing all week – so she could take my picture. Nobody looking at that photo would know that it was any different than any of the other 2013 Convention signs all over the hotel for us to take pictures in front of, but I know what it felt like to stand there and look out into the huge ballroom. It felt effing amazing.
I made a comment at some point about how I always wanted this kind of access to convention, and Samantha joked “becoming a little power hungry are we?” and I laughed but really? It wasn’t about power at all. It was truly about access. Being able to get these behind-the-scenes looks at how it all comes together. I have driven my partners crazy with my attention to detail, but that attention can make a good experience for a student into a great one. Spending several hours watching rehearsals for 2 master classes wasn’t about hanging out with the cool kids, it was about absorbing how these amazing instructors choose music and put choreography together and rehearse and communicate and bring the best out of the people they are working with. That is the kind of information to internalize and bring back home to my studio. That is what is going to make me a better teacher, business owner, and person.
So I took moments. Lots of them.
At one point I received a text from a friend that read You don’t get attention because you wear the flashiest Zumba clothes or dance the loudest or proclaim how fabulous you are. You don’t have to tell me about your years in dance to show me you’re a dancer, and you don’t have to tell me you’re a good teacher for me to know it’s true. You attract attention because you share the spotlight with the people around you. Your humility is something that can’t be taught. You belong here. I’m proud of you. Well, I don’t know that all of that is true, but I do know that the week was full of exchanges like that, exchanges full of positivity and hopefulness that you can really help somebody that can fill you back up and make you excited to get back at it when your plane lands at home.
These were the moments that made Convention so amazing to me. I’m really glad I didn’t hide out with room service and the remote.