Back in April I took the Zumba B1 training and became an Official Zumba Instructor. I had wanted to take this training for a long time but was very apprehensive because 1) I don’t like being in front of big crowds and 2) I have no intention of teaching Zumba classes anytime soon. I did want to take it because so many people in my Zumba classes told me I should be an instructor. Before I took the class, I wanted to know what I should be prepared for, but I couldn’t really find any answers to my questions. For those of you out there in the same boat, I hope this post will be exactly what you’re looking for!
Deciding to take the class –
Let’s start at the beginning – you’ve taken a few Zumba classes and you are interested in becoming an instructor. You can find a training and register for it on the Zumba website. Unless you like in a fairly large city, you’ll probably have to drive at least an hour to get there. I live in a small city but was lucky enough to find a training in a bigger city 40 minutes away, so I jumped on the chance to take a training that close by! You’ll need to create an account in order to register, of course. Once you’re registered you should receive a payment receipt and link to the training manual from Zumba via email, and then another email from the Instructor containing directions to the facility, itinerary and general instructions. Just read the email thoroughly to familiarize yourself with where to go and what to bring.
After registering –
You’ll need to download the B1 manual, which is very short and basically introduces you to the Zumba brand. If you are not already ACE, AFAA, etc. certified, it also provides some exercise physiology basics as they relate to Zumba as cardiovascular endurance training. If you are already certified, it’s worth it to read through to find out how Zumba sees itself as fitting into the physical fitness spectrum.
I packed the day before the class, and brought pretty much everything that was on the list. Make sure you bring your ID, which is how they verify that you’re the person registered. My instructor suggested a change of clothes, which I brought and used but were not absolutely necessary. Bringing food was key because there was not enough time for a long lunch break, and you are on your feet pretty much all day. My steps for the day added up to about 10 miles and had about 1400 active calories! I tried to get a good night’s sleep, then left early so I had an extra half hour of driving time in case I ran into traffic or got lost.
Training day –
It did take longer to get there than I expected, but I still had about 15 minutes to get signed in, which is the first thing you do. You’ll present your ID and they check your name off the registration list. They’ll give you a couple forms, one of which is your standard activity waiver (you have to fill this one out) and the other is a Zumba Instructor Network (ZIN) registration form (you don’t have to fill this one out yet). After taking care of paperwork you should get settled for the day – have a snack or drink, find a cubby for your bags, check your phone, etc.
My class was scheduled to begin at noon, and we started pretty much on time with a live Zumba class. If you’ve already taken Zumba classes, this should be pretty standard for you except that it may be longer than usual. Mine was a little over an hour long. I’m not sure why they start with a live class… maybe to get you in the mood and warmed up.
After the live class we had a short break before discussing and practicing the “warm up” section of a class. This is where things got a little nerve-wracking for me because a few people were randomly chosen to come up on the stage individually for about 30 seconds and lead a warm up move. The instructor divided the class into groups by row and gave directions about what types of steps each of the rows were supposed to do if they were called up to the stage. The first row was only allowed to do a march in place or some variation of that, the second row could add arms, and the third row could do both of those plus double steps. I was in the first row and, of course, was the first person to be called up. I started out with a single step touch but quickly got bored and instinct kicked in… and I started a double step touch. The instructor had to tell me to take it down a notch. Whoops! She was very nice about it, but the moral of the story is that you should really pay attention when the instructor is explaining.
The third section of our class was to learn the first of our Zumba Basic 1 steps: Merengue. The instructor broke down the step into levels of difficulty and showed several variations. If you have taken a Zumba class, you have likely done a variation of this step and will recognize it right away. We practiced this (and the other 3 steps I describe later) in place; no one was called up onto the stage for these sections.
By this time in the class we were scheduled for a lunch break (though it was around 3 or 4 in the afternoon), so we had about 45 minutes to eat and get back to the facility. Some people chose to leave, others sat on the floor and socialized while eating, but I was seriously in need of some quiet time and decided to just eat in my car.
After lunch we practiced the second of the Zumba Basic 1 steps: Salsa. Again, the instructor broke down the step into levels of difficulty and showed several variations, but you will likely already know this step. Nothing too challenging here…
Then, as an interlude to break up the B1 steps training, we focused on cueing. After the instructor talked about the various types of cueing and demonstrated each, we partnered up with the person next to us and practiced verbal vs. non-verbal cueing (hand gestures) on each other. It was somewhat awkward at first, but the exercise definitely demonstrated how much less effective verbal cueing is for Zumba.
The third of the Zumba B1 steps that we did was Cumbia, which you probably already know and love. By this point we had been in the training for over 6 hours and I was starting to get tired, but the instructor did her best to keep everyone involved and smiling.
The fourth and final B1 step that you’re required to learn is the Reggaeton, which happens to be one of my favorites and gave me a little boost when I was getting tired. When you’ve learned all four B1 steps, you’ll know the training is almost done.
Finally, we discussed song mapping and creating choreography. Song mapping is how Zumba teaches its instructors to organize their choreography for a song and helps them remember their choreography based on the part of the song they’re hearing. It stresses memorizing the music, which means listening to the song over and over until you’re sick of it, more than likely. However, song mapping is a practical skill that works across the genre, not just for Zumba. To demonstrate to us how effective song mapping is, the instructor broke us into four groups and gave each group a block of choreography that corresponded to a particular section of the song. We were supposed to start dancing only when that section played and, again, this demo was very effective at making the point.
Song mapping led nicely into the next section, which was basically trying to sell us on joining ZIN. The instructor sat us down (yes!!) and spoke about her experiences with Zumba and how great ZIN is. If you’ve never heard of ZIN, you can find out more about it here, but the selling points for me as an instructor would be:
- new songs and choreo each month
- marketing tools
- instructor license auto-renewal
We also received a DVD to take home, which has choreography on it that you can use to start teaching.
Finally, we took a group photo with the instructor and were sent out into the world as newly-minted Zumba instructors. I remember being a little tired at the end of the day, but more because it was around 10 or 11 when I got home rather than fatigue from the exercise.
After the class –
As you might have guessed, I never did join ZIN. So the very first email I received after the training was basically encouraging me to join. A few days after that, I received an email with my printable certificate and instructions for logging the class on the ACE website to obtain my CEUs. Now I get emails from Zumba about once a week, usually about clothes and other stuff they’re trying to market to instructors.
If you have any questions about the B1 training, please let me know in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!