I hadn’t tried Zumba when I signed up to do the training. I was teaching a Salsacise class and looking for music online and every tune I found had Zumba all over it… I remember wondering, What on earth is this Zumba thing?
A few searches led me to find the first instructor training in Glasgow October 2009. Without thinking too much (I was child free - decisions were easy in those days), I signed up, completely clueless as to what it was. The training session started with my first ever Zumba class, led by an amazing Scottish instructor called Donna Giffen. I was absolutely blown away from that very first time, completely hooked.
The concept was so different from other classes. I had previously been teaching with a head mic which I absolutely hated. Zumba used non verbal cueing. There was also no “breaking down” of steps, which was pretty unheard of to me, having grown up in dance classes. You just got up there and did it, and everyone followed. I had learned to lead classes with Left and Right cues, “5, 6, 7 8 and GRAPEVINE to the right” etc. I loved the simplicity of Zumba. I loved the freedom of being given inspiration, tunes and video resources, but essentially being free to choose your playlist, your choreography and add your own style to everything.
For me Zumba is freeing, fun and great exercise. I love looking out at smiling faces as people experience their one hour of absolute freedom to move, to strut, pop and shake without judgement. Regardless of how I feel before class, I always feel great afterwards.Turn up when you can, no need to book. Do what steps you can, have a good time and move. It really doesn’t matter how co-ordinated you are, what you wear, how old you are, or what size clothes you wear.
I started teaching in Stornoway Primary, loving the stage and the huge space. We added a class at the Royal British Legion, which had its ups and downs. I remember that time fondly as very busy, sweaty classes, with the strong distinct Legion aroma - Chinese food and stale drink. The lack of lighting made you feel like you were in a nightclub and you could really let loose.
We also used Sandwick Hall, the Bridge Centre, the Sea Angling, the Caladh, and once in the carpark behind HIE. We’re currently in the Golf Club but very soon we’ll be in a purpose built space. I’m so excited, and grateful, that this is happening, and I hope you all are too!
Fundraising and Events
The popularity and accessibility of Zumba made it a great way to fundraise and we’ve taken full advantage of this over the years. It has always been part of my business model to give back and to use our classes as a way to help people.
Over the 10 years I’ve been teaching Zumba, I’ve led Zumbathons raising over £10,000 (due to our amazingly generous community!).
We’ve raised money for Walk the Walk, British Heart Foundation, Breast Cancer Care, The Gambia Partnership, the Syria Crisis, the Haiti Earthquake Appeal and the Phillipines Typhoon Appeal (all via Red Cross), the Leanne Fund, Western Isles Kidney Patient Association, WIIGA (Western Isles Island Games Association) Swim Team, Stornoway Primary p7 trip, NWA Cheer and Dance amongst others.
We’ve also had fun dressing up and getting involved in the community - from our Zumba participants taking part in a flash mob for the carnival (2010), a Samba parade in full Samba gear, dressing up as Zombies to take part in our Thrill the world flash mobs. At
classes we’ve had themed nights including Halloween and Christmas dress ups, st Patrick’s Day Irish Ceili (Riverdance!), a Country style Hoedown, a Strictly night, numerous glow stick raves, and most recently our 80s party.
It’s been a fantastic 10 years, and I can’t thank you all enough - whether you were one of the originals, whether you’re new, whether you’ve been once or come every week. Teaching the same format for this length of time has never been boring, and that’s
largely due to the amazing community we have built up around it. We have celebrated engagements and weddings in class - birthdays (ALL ages), people leaving (we miss you all).
I see people come and go - life happens. New jobs, babies, moving house, children leaving home, granny duties - all these milestones happen (LIFE HAPPENS), and sometimes
there isn’t space for Zumba. But we are still here if you ever fancy coming back, you’ll always be welcome! So when the kids start school, the house build is over, or you have the time or inclination, we’d love to see you back at class. And if not, that’s fine too - THANK YOU ALL for being part of this incredible journey for me.
We’re celebrating this 10 year journey with a Zumba Party tomorrow night. A class inspired by our original playlist and using many of the tunes and routines from 10 years ago (I’m also taking suggestions from anyone of your faves over the past 10 years), followed by drinks and nibbles and a casual chance to catch up! 6pm 24th October in the Golf Club. There will be a few special offers etc for those who come along too! https://www.facebook.com/events/1392711480879996/
Once more a MASSIVE THANK YOU to you all. Thank you, thank you, thank you!