Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Taking Bold Steps with Zumba: Jamesa Lewis, Joy of Fitness Instructor

Jamesa is all smiles leading her Zumba class.
Why did you become a Zumba instructor?
I became a Zumba instructor because I love to dance and I love to workout. Thank you Alberto, the brain child of Zumba, for coming up with this and not hesitating to step out and make it happen. After being a student in Zumba classes on and off for several years, I decided to take the bold step to become the instructor. I am so happy that I followed through, because I thoroughly enjoy teaching and having fun with my students as we move our bodies to the beat of several genres of music.  

What are the traits you look for in an excellent instructor and how does that influence your teaching style?
In my opinion, an excellent instructor keeps the energy going throughout the class and is in tune with each student ensuring, as much as possible, that everyone is engaged. As long as I am able to follow, as closely as possible, and I am getting a good workout while having fun, I'm all good. Those are the things that I try to emulate from the different instructors that I've had over time.

Jamesa rockin it!

What motivates you?
I love Zumba and I love to workout! That's my motivation. 

Favorite dance step?
I'm not sure what  it is called, but getting on my toes and tapping faster and faster while moving my upper body in a circular motion is so much fun for me, and my students all seem to enjoy it as well. 

Inspirational Quote: 

Nobody's built like you. You design yourself. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Raising Self-Esteem Through Yoga: Rekara Gage, Joy of Fitness Instructor

Rekara in supported bound ankle pose during
her Joy of Fitness restorative yoga class.
Why did you become a yoga instructor? 
I fell in love with the practice. Before doing yoga, I never would have expected that my body could move in the way that it can nor that I was as stressed and wound-up as I was. You’d be surprised by what that awareness can do for self-esteem and overall wellness (spiritual, emotional, physical, mental, etc.). I became a yoga instructor to help people appreciate themselves and realize their potential.

What are the traits you look for in an excellent instructor and how does that influence your teaching style? 
Someone who is helpful, patient, prepared, clear and creative has what it takes to be an excellent yoga teacher. I like to create a safe space for my students; one where they are reminded that we’re all students who are learning and progressing together. My classes are created to challenge students and let them play around; engaging their bodies and minds in ways that aren’t usually seen during the daily grind. 

 Rekara in supported revolved twist during her
Joy of Fitness restorative yoga class.

What motivates you? 
The feeling. My body feels so much better, my mood is so much better when I practice. Fitness in general is a pick-me-up. I can’t go too long without some kind of physical outlet to keep me balanced and centered. Luckily, yoga goes beyond just a physical release. 

What's your favorite yoga pose? 
I can’t say that I have just one favorite pose,

but I can say that I love poses like bridge. There’s so much growth and exploration in this pose because of its variations. With yoga, there’s really no such thing as “mastering” a pose. Students of yoga are always searching for ways to express poses differently such as feeling a pose more deeply or in new ways. This is a pose that you can really do that in.

Rekara in supported child pose during her
Joy of Fitness restorative yoga class.

Inspirational Quote: 

You don’t get better by doing nothing; you don’t get things done unless you give yourself to it, whole-heartedly.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Finding Sanctuary in Yoga: Jessica Whittington, Joy of Fitness Instructor

Why did you become a Yoga instructor? 
It was a very natural transition for me to go from Kung Fu to Yoga (both are martial arts and yoga is often referred to as the 'martial art of the soul' for how it reveals much inner truth to you as you progress). Yoga allowed me a sense of sanctuary during a very dark time in my life and for that I will be forever grateful. I love that the discipline is such a COMPLETE workout: developing strength with balance, agility, and breath control but also allows one to center the emotional life and calm the constantly over stimulated mind / nervous system.   

What makes a great Yoga instructor? 
Knowledge mixed with compassion and a nurturing quality. The minutiae inherent within the many different styles of yoga can be overwhelming if one attempts to parse the greater detail, so knowing how to communicate a short hand version of some of these concepts and seamlessly integrate them within a class' theme is a skill that takes a long while to refine. Also, being able to adapt a class on the fly to your students and have the right pacing based on the type of class can not be underestimated.
Jess in dancer profile.
What motivates you? 
Finding the perfect mix of music, sequence movement and mental intent ... when you find it the result is this 'moving meditation' which feels organic and effortless. In my own practice, it is the process of learning how to relax and trust my body during a very advanced practice that keeps me motivated and coming back for more every day. 

Favorite Yoga Pose: 
Lately I've really been enjoying variations of Hanumanasana (Flying Monkey Leap). I LOVE the incredibly deep stretch in the hamstrings / inner hips as you surrender the body to the pose and begin to extend the spine up and roll back the shoulders to open the heart deeply. It is incredibly activating in multiple muscles of the body and allows one to deeply plant the sit bones / pelivc floor. 

Inspirational Quote: 
'Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and to
endure what cannot be cured.' BKS Iyengar 

What Makes a Good Exercise Instructor?

As a fitness instructor and owner of a local fitness studio, this question of what makes a good instructor is always on the back of my mind because it seems to me, it's what keeps people coming back. The most important thing for me is that my clients get a good, appropriate for them workout and that they have a good experience, walking away with a smile on their face. I get a lot of "I hate you," looks, deer caught in the head lights stares of eminent doom during the workout, but ultimately I would say 99.9% leave with a sense of accomplishment and feeling good about the whole experience- at least that is what I strive for. 

In my seven years of instructing, I have learned a lot along the way and have found that a good instructor is more than being nationally certified, CPR and first aide trained, and keeping certifications current, or even knowing the mechanics of movement, the safe and effective exercises to perform and keeping up-to-date on the latest physical fitness and health related research. Good instructors not only impart their knowledge, they give of themselves. I truly believe the best instructors are the ones that get up and pour their hearts out, caring about each and every person that comes to their class each and every time. It's the same thing that you would want from a good school teacher- someone who not only knows the material and how to teach it, but LOVES the kids most of all. 

I'd love to hear from you. What do you think makes a good instructor?