Thursday, March 6, 2014

How Zumba has changed my life.

I had a great conversation with a friend the last night and we were discussing friendship and how Zumba has brought some of the most amazing people and experiences into my life.

For those not in the culture or lifestyle of Zumba it looks like a sweaty party, that's fun, but not for them. They think it's about the moves (which maybe they feel they don't have), or the music (which maybe they don't know)...when in actuality, Zumba is about PEOPLE.

I have a saying that I repeat often which I heard from the CEO of Zumba, Alberto Perlman. "Zumba is not about burning calories. Zumba is about changing lives!"
No truer words have been spoken.

How is it that this "fitness craze" or "dance party" changes lives? Is it the confidence from a healthier body or a smaller waistline? What do people achieve in these classes or with this program that actually produces a change, a change for the better, a change that takes them on a different path? A better path.

I look at my life 6 years ago. I had been married 5 years (happily) and had my two wonderful kids. I would work from home making jewelry for a company just so I could do a little shopping here and there and not have my husband raise is eyebrows at me. However small the amount I made, it was mine. I worked for it. :D Bring on the shoes!!!

 I LOVE being a mom. In college I didn't even know where to begin on courses b/c I wanted to grow up and be a mom. My mom had to work and I wanted to be there when my kids got home from school and not working retail til 9:30pm many nights. I was going to be a "stay at home" mom. This was the life I had planned. My husband Brian was going to go to dental school and we were going to live the All American Dream.

I was married at 20 and had our first at 22. I had a very full life, filled with wonderful people. But somewhere in there I forgot what I like to do. What music I like, who I was at the core. I was a mom and a wife and I feel a pretty good one too---those were titles, titles I was proud to have. But WHO WAS I? If someone asked what I liked to do it revolved around motherhood (again, this I did proudly), If asked what kind of music or shows I watched, it revolved around motherhood-Sesame Street, kids songs, ABCs, Little Einsteins. I didn't realize that I forgot to look beyond the titles and more deeply into WHO I AM as a person. As a daughter of God. What's my life purpose? What mark am I going to make on this earth?

My mom always wanted me to teach group fitness. I think deep inside she knew the difference it made in her life and wanted me to experience that as well.  This was not something I was comfortable with nor did I think it was going to be a path I would take. Did I fear I'd fail? Yes. Did I fear people not wanting the "instructors daughter"? YES! I didn't take chances, I played it safe. I played small.

After my second child I was feeling "unsuccessful" as a mom. My daughter was really colicky. Making and keeping her happy was a feat I was ill prepared for. I cried daily b/c the one thing I had set out to do, the "career" I chose was one I actually knew nothing about and through lots of trial and error and more trial and error, I was constantly reassessing and coming up with a new game plan and goals to reach to try and create peace in our home and in my heart.

It was about this time that a new fitness format came out. It seemed like something I could at least fake for a while, giving me an outlet I could try to succeed in. I taught this format for about 4 months and was at a stand still. I wasn't inspired, I didn't feel inspiring. Then a path opened up, one that would change my life forever, for good. That path was Zumba.

There came a point in my teaching where I stopped looking at all I was putting into the class, all MY works, all MY efforts (which was very self centered) and took a step back to see the HUGE impact this class has made on MY life. The people I have met along the way aren't who I usually had associated with. I grew up in Utah and most of my friends were just like me. I didn't have much diversity. As I grew up in life and in this company I have met the most amazing people: different ages, different backgrounds, lifestyles, sexual preferences, sizes, religious beliefs, political opinions, languages...before Zumba I knew only a small amount of people who were not of my same faith. I love Utah. I don't see myself ever moving actually. I wouldn't still live where I do if I didn't LOVE this area and the quality of life we share with our kids. I think I am surrounded by the salt of the earth, amazing people with integrity and kindness at their core. But...you know what? Different also is good. I don't know that I understood this so much growing up and part of that is just that-growing up. You start to see the world as a whole rather than the world within your 30 mile radius.

My dad was the best at connecting with people. He didn't care where they were from, what they did in their free time, he cared about looking into their eyes and making them feel important. His motto in life was "To love ALL people, in ALL places, at ALL times." I remember a story he shared with me. He was in the restroom at his work at the Salt Lake City County Courthouse building. There was a man on the ground, distraught, upset. He looked up at my dad and asked, "Will you pray with me?" My dad got down on his knees on the bathroom floor and said a prayer with this man. When he opened his eyes the man was very moved and crying and went into telling my dad that he had just dyed his hair in this very bathroom and was going to go rob a bank. Then my dad had walked in. The prayer they said together, the love he felt. This changed his whole course of action.

While I have never been on the verge of robbing a bank or doing something dramatic like that I have had those days where you just feel yucky and in a funk, giving up on a goal, unsuccessful. It is on those days I'll receive a message from someone telling me they enjoy my class or some work I have done, that they are grateful for me through some way, or grateful for Zumba as a program and I realize just like me there are people all over the world doing the same thing day in day out. Helping others find success. Lifting each other up.

As an instructor you create ways for people to have success. Yes it is small, through a routine, song, rhythm...BUT, these little successes build. Over time the success they feel in your classes create more successful choices, making more successful and confident people, helping people have more successful lives. I have heard from many students the changes they are making in their lives b/c they have a place they feel good, confident and carefree. This gives them a place of comfort, a safety zone where they can rid their minds of negative thinking. If they have this, they begin to focus less on what others think of them and start taking charge of their lives. It happens over and over again. The students lift each other up, they feel more confident, happy, liberated that they pass that on. I'm sure you're familiar with the Butterfly Effect. Here is a quote I love that goes along with it's meaning-

"Each smallest act of kindness, reverberates across great distances and spans of time --affecting lives unknown to the one who’s generous spirit, was the source of this good echo. Because kindness is passed on and grows each time it’s passed until a simple courtesy becomes an act of selfless courage, years later, and far away. Likewise, each small meanness, each expression of hatred, each act of evil.”

Dean Koontz, From the Corner of His Eye The more people I have let into my life the more my life is changed for good.

This is why Zumba changes lives. Little acts of kindness, a smile, a compliment, a small success. The people who are there with you experiencing the same thing with each other create this amazing positive energy. It goes on and on and the ripple effect can be so far reaching. It starts with you, goes to your family, friends, co workers, associations. Then the banker, the grocer, the mail man, the post office employee.

I never thought of myself as an insecure person, I didn't feel my life was empty or that I needed any more friends or anyone else in my life for that matter. I was content and happy.

The change in me has been huge. I see further than what's in front of me, I have been so greatly impacted by this "workout craze" I hardly can imagine where I would be without it. My marriage is better, I am a better mom, I love more people, I am more confident, I am happier, I am no longer concerned with what anyone thinks of me. I try to be the best version of myself that I can. For those who don't like it, I am ok with that, I love people and of course would hope they see the real ME but, I will not compromise my integrity to suit the approval of those whom I do not emulate. Positive, loving, uplifting-this is who I want to be. These are the qualities I go to bed hoping to improve on the next day. I see these qualities in those I surround myself with and I am grateful for those examples.

Zumba changed my life. It still is changing my life.


-Kass
This picture was from a conference we did in London. Here I am with Alberto Perlman CEO, Beto Perez Creator, and the ever talented and beautiful Gina Grant and Tanya Beardsley. This group has inspired me more than they will ever know. What I saw in them lite a fire, I became passionate about Zumba, I wanted to make others feel the way I felt when I was around them. For me, they are the heart of the company.

13 comments:

Jess Mabbutt said...

I really appreciate this blog that you wrote and especially the most recent one because I can relate! Before doing Zumba I was a wreck both physically and emotionally! Now three years on I see such a change in me in both aspects of my life! My physically shape has improved so much but more importantly my emotional state has benefitted even more!
Getting lost in the music provides a haven for me in which negative thins in my life are forgotten and even if just for an hour that makes a world of difference to me! I'm the first to admit that when I first stepped into a Zumba class I thought it wasn't for me but now three years later I can't imagine my life without it!

Maïna Bélanger said...

Wow..this is so inspiring...! Well Zumba changed my life as well...I had dark thoughta because I was bullied for almost 10 years...people didnt want me around because i was not "popular"...But when I discovere zumba it all changed...I gained confidence and happiness..And YOU...KASS MARTIN...You changed my life too. Meeting you was a pure dream and...what you did on that day was simply Amazing...you are amazing! Thanjs for changing my life... :) I agree with this post 100% ♥♥♥

Rappleye Family said...

Kass you are such a fun teacher and I miss coming to your classes! Are you doing any trainings in Utah anytime? I just had my Twins and am ready to get back into Zumba! We live up in Kearns now but I still want to try to come down to you/Emilys classes if I can!! I love it! You girls are amazing and make me love excersising! It's not the same without you two! You can follow my blog too if you want rogerandtasha.blogspot.com Thanks for the info about the Brutez Zumba event coming soon! Are you ever going to teach up in the SAlt Lake area? Prolly not :(

A3kka said...

Thanks Kass for sharing your beautiful and inspiring stories. Let's keep rocking thrue de decades I love the feeling of sharing without any expectations and getting so much back. Lot's of Zumba love!

Jillian Leclerc said...

Kass,

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I've changed from being an instructor and a ZIN member in many similar ways, but that isn't what I wanted to write about.

You are one of my FAVORITE Zumba instructors and one of my role models BECAUSE two years ago in Orlando, I took your Crazy Country workshop and I was so energized and motivated by your instruction and I strive to be that for my students. You made the best impression when I lined up to take my picture with you at the end of the workshop... I was at the very end of the line, and even after taking hundreds of pictures (maybe even thousands during the convention), you shook my hand and looked into my eyes (just like your dad!) and made me feel SO important and so welcome in the Zumba family. And I've told people this many times, and think it's so great that you learned this from your dad. You clearly have had lots of great influences in your life, only focus on the positive, and pay that forward like the butterfly effect. You have so much to be proud of!!!

Farrah Kaisa said...

Thank you for sharing your story. Although my story isn't exactly the same, it is very much my story. I found Zumba during the darkest and most painful time of my life so far. I didn't know who I was anymore. I hated what I did know. I had lost hope. Zumba did great things for my health, but the instructors, the people brought me joy and better yet hope. Zumba opened my mind to fitness and I have tried different formats as well and have since become certified. Three years ago, I started a youth program, MOTIV8 Youth, because I wanted to give that back, and MOTIV8 does that with at-risk youth. MOTIV8 offers multiple fitness formats so that the kids can choose for themselves what makes them happy, but they all know Zumba is my first love! The adult volunteers who come and dance with these kids, find a common bond through Zumba. I am fortunate to have Zumba and blessed to find a way to give back what I was given. Thanks Kass!

Tepoe said...

Hello Kass!

We've never met, but I've seen you around and you are amazing! The best thing about you is that you're real. Thank you so much for this post on Zumba, I'd like to re-post it for my sister who is going to get certified in Zumba. Would that be okay?

Please let me know,
Thank you much- Tepoe Ka'aumoana

bańka boo said...

Hello Kass, I need your help! I'm dancing zumba since month, everyday for 1 hour, but without results! I'm vegetarian, what should and what I shouldn't eat to lose weight? Please help me!

Daniza Llanos said...

You have no idea how much this post means to me!! I'm pretty sure zumba changes everyone's life but I never thought of how it changed mine until now. I moved from Chile 8 years ago with my mom without knowing anyone or well the language. It was hard to adapt and find friends. I lived in a good community in Idaho but I wasn't happy with my life. I found Zumba about 4 or 5 year after j moved here and I found some of the most amazing people in my life. I never thought I could have so much in common with someone else but I do and some of those people are my best friends right now and zumba Co workers :) I follow you on Instagram and every post is really inspirational or I'm laughing really hard. You're an amazing person and my favorite zumba instructor and role model. I've never met you yet but someday I will! Sadly I live in Idaho and although is not that far away from Utah it seems like it. Hopefully someday you come here or I'll drove myself up to one of your classes!! Thank you for everything and never change. You have change many lives for best and we really appreciate you!!! ��

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