Leg 10 started 2 years ago when, due to illness and no subs being available, my favorite Zumba classes in Kitchener were cancelled for a whole weekend. Something clicked into my brain “screw this, I could sub for them and we would never miss class again”, and next thing you know I’m certified as a Zumba instructor. And then I moved away and the whole teaching thing got put on the back burner. Until now. I decided that, since the whole theme of the #MyTAR17 challenge is to get out there and push myself to do things that I normally wouldn’t it was time to dust off the instructing shoes and put myself out there like never before.
A little backstory. I’m a super passionate Zumba participant, and have been going to classes for years. I’m not a small girl in height or bone structure, I remember my Mom telling me when I was a kid to extend all the moves to the tips of your fingers and toes to make them look as good as possible. In Zumba, if you dance “small”, you’re only cheating yourself out of some of the workout benefits, as the bigger you move, the better your cardio gets a workout. So I cut a rather large path through class when I’m there, because I’m one of those girls who #Give’r. I was also that little girl who used to lock herself in her room with her cassette player and dance in front of the mirror. While I have no formal dance training, I am a gold boombox champion on Dance Central 1, 2 and 3 on my Xbox Kinect.
If you’ve ever attended a Zumba class (or any class with a large percentage of women) you’ll know that there’s a hierarchy to it. We’re all basically the cast of Mean Girls. This isn’t official, and I’m not saying it’s fair or right, but it’s just the way we women are wired. You size up the competition and systematically try to take them down to ascend to your place at the top of the pile. In Zumba this translates into being in the front row. You start in the back, like all good peons, and as your skill level improves, both dance skills as well as working the right social connections, you move your way up. Now I’m positive that there are some women out there, far more virtuous than I, who can get past the politics of it all and just enjoy the dance. But for me, my competitive nature kicks in and I want to be front row, centre.
And I made it. Everything was going great. The next logical step was to just teach the freaking class (as mentioned above). I had it all lined up. I was assistant teaching with some friends from that class, it was all just a natural, comfortable progression. Until I had to move to Toronto for work. Suddenly all my networking and my connections were gone. I had managed to, up until this point, avoid the dreaded job applications and auditions because I knew the right people at the right time. Here I had no footing. So I figured I would just join a gym, get myself in with the right people and then apply once I had a good relationship with the staff. Turns out I joined the wrong gym for that, which was totally my fault for not doing the right research first. Continuing with the Mean Girls metaphor, I was Amanda Seyfried.
So ironically, having to move again for work was a good thing, as it got me out of that mistake. Enter Montreal. We’re settled, everything’s all good, I have a great gym, and then a friend mentions they know of a place looking for instructors. Here I am, pretty green and overconfidant with a practically blank CV and a somewhat dusty ZIN certification… the next thing I know I’m blindly emailing them asking if they would let me audition. And they say yes.
Then it hits me – what the hell am I doing? I haven’t taught in almost a year, although I’ve attended hundreds of classes during that time. And I’ve never gone to an audition before. I have no idea what to expect, no idea if I’m qualified or not, no idea if I’m ABLE TO DO THIS. I had a minor crisis of faith – did I even want to do this? My anxiety is constantly poking me with little needles of panic, and my Type-A side is telling me it’s time to practice my ass off. Have I jumped in way over my head and now I’m just going to stand in an empty gym and make a total fool of myself? I’m good at being good at things. What do I do if I’m not? My friends, Husband, fellow instructors become my therapist, talking me down from the metaphorical ledges I put myself on and reminding me that I have (most of) the skills and the love, and that’s all you really need.
Since all my good thinking is done in the bath tub, one night before the audition I was lying there, having a good soak, and I realized that this was just another #MyTAR17 challenge. So, it wasn’t a big event or a one-off adventure, but it was me, staring into the abyss of the unknown, and stepping out there to do something I’ve never done before. The adrenaline before this was way stronger than it had been before my first Obstacle Course Race. There it was me against me. Here I was lining up to be judged and scrutinized. But I was going to show up. Because if I was on The Amazing Race Canada, I know I would do everything they told me to (the panic and anxiety would totally be along for the ride, too) but I wouldn’t quit. So there was no backing down now.
I practiced my ass off. I have mainlined so much latin music I’m practically fluent in totally made up Spanish now. My arms and facial expressions are wildly dramatic. And I’m super glad I went to the audition. I may not have gotten the job (you know how it goes, you need experience to get the job and a job to get experience), but I took the leap and learned from it. And it’s now only a matter of time before I’m up there before my flock of neon-clad party goers, all shaking our jiggly asses together. And it’s going to be awesome. Through this I rediscovered my passion for Zumba, as well as how much I love nailing all the little details of a routine, and how good it feels to turn your brain off and just DANCE.
Pit stop: Second to last. I may not have soared this leg, but I didn’t fail, either. Back when there were more teams racing I would have been super happy with this placement, but now that we’re getting down to the home stretch, the margins of error are a lot smaller. On the upside, this is a leg I will be re-doing soon, and I know it’s just going to keep getting better.
Eliminated: The team wearing all black without the ability to move their hips. You cannot survive a Zumba challenge unless you’re willing to look like an idiot, swivel and shake every part of your body, and wear a lot of bright colours. It’s not a workout, it’s a party.