I had always been keen on exercising to music, seeking out group exercise classes whenever I could in gyms and leisure centres, during my time working as a teacher. Like many people I found them great for stress relief and for boosting endorphins.
I trained to teach exercise to music back in the 1990s – this was a 3-week intensive course, ETM level 2, that gives a general aerobics qualification that is recognised around the world. This was to be an excellent and thorough grounding for the one-day Zumba training that I undertook later.
My children were small, I was not working at the time, I had lost some confidence in my abilities, I was keen to get my fitness back and I discovered a local, dynamic Zumba class. Here I found I could have an hour of time to myself, away from the family, and became hooked on the moves and music. I also made some close friends who shared the same joy of dancing and fitness.
I immediately loved Zumba because each routine follows the pattern and musical phrasing of the song, which is important for dancers and of course uses uplifting world music with a range of infectious dance rhythms.
Encouraged by my husband and friends, I took the Zumba training in October 2010, began my classes immediately and found I was hooked. Initially my classes were a hobby but over time I realised that I had found my true vocation. Instructing these classes combined my love of dancing, performing, teaching and engaging with people! It was everything this extrovert, ex-dancer, ex-teacher wanted in a job!
I have been teaching in the community ever since and haven’t looked back. The morning schedule works well for me now, as a mother of teenagers, but in the future I may open some classes in the evenings once more.
During the lockdown of 2020 and into the following year, I successfully established online classes on Zoom and many of my regular customers came along with great enthusiasm and commitment. I also started recording some classes, creating a catalogue of on demand classes that can be accessed from home on any day of the week.
I have been teaching for a decade in some of my venues, and many of my participants have been with me from the beginning. This loyalty is very humbling. It is also rewarding to see people find an exercise class that they love, make friendships within the group and take part in social events that foster the family feel that I am so keen to sustain.
Newcomers are especially welcome – I know I can always rely on my regular participants to be friendly and inclusive. This is my number one priority with the classes – that anyone would come along and feel immediately at home.
During the pandemic of 2020-21 I worked hard to keep my classes going online but also to extend my training in many areas that would benefit my participants. I took several courses with Zumba, designed to improve my instructing skills, such as Zumba Toning and also took a course about using social media. I also began to think about a new form of fitness class for musical theatre lovers – it would be easy to follow, easily accessible for a range of fitness levels and would be set to music from stage and screen. Razzle Dazzle was born!
I am currently working on a further qualification with ActiveIQ – Level 3 Award in Designing Exercise Programmes for Older Adults – to help me further understand the needs of the older population with regards to exercising safely and effectively. It is really important for me to continue to learn and gain more knowledge and understanding, to serve my community as well as I possibly can. I always welcome constructive feedback too!
I hope to continue teaching in the community for many years to come!