Throw Down & Party Yourself Into Shape!

By: Shannon Shull

Ok, yes, I admit, I’m hoping the title of this blog entry caught your attention!  Am I talking about drinking or drugging yourself into some kind of party oblivion?  Of course not!  I’m actually talking about the positive effects of engaging in a Zumba dance party!  Let’s face it though, if I had titled my blog entry simply as “Zumba Dance Party,” I’m not quite sure you would’ve clicked to read on.  So in an attempt to get and keep your attention, I’d like to share with you how Zumba has richly affected my life and helped to keep me and my ole’ bod in shape.

Zumba Shannon – November 2010, when she 1st got licensed as a Zumba Instructor. Since then she’s lost 15 lbs & gained muscles she never knew she had!

I’ve been licensed to teach Zumba since November of 2010 and just recently got licensed to teach Aqua Zumba this past July.  I’ve taught and led Zumba fun at everything, ranging from birthday parties to Mary Kay parties to Leisure Centers and dance studios. I’ve recently started teaching for all the Gold’s Gym locations of the Midlands of Lexington and Columbia, SC and am thrilled about it.

The Zumba craze has indeed been fierce and fabulous. But why did it attract my attention? Yes, I am a dancer – a theatre/dance college grad and teacher of the arts – so I love just about all things that involve music and dance. I also have a degree in Fitness & Nutrition from way back, but I have to admit, I’ve never been a dedicated gym-going type person, and regular aerobics classes quite honestly bored me. I have never in my lifetime been able to truly commit to a regular aerobics/fitness class!

…That is until Zumba came into my life.

Now let me clarify – as is the case with anything, whether it’s any teacher, preacher, trainer, coach, etc. it’s all about personal preference. The very first Zumba class I took did not impress me that much because the teacher was too intricate and complicating with her moves and teaching style. I walked away saying, “Oh well, I guess that Zumba thing isn’t for me.”  Then I gave it another chance and took another class with a different Zumba instructor….and it was amazing!  Love at first groove!

For me, the right teacher made all the difference in the world! This particular teacher kept the moves simple, allowing for the class to really get into the groove and experience a dance party while getting a great workout. She was wild, goofy and provided total fun! My kind of teacher, my kind of class, my kind of work out! I walked away from that class going, “I could do that!”  Right then and there I decided that I would dedicate time to getting licensed to teach Zumba. I mean the reality was, if I was going to truly commit to getting into shape and enjoy actually getting paid to do it, I would have to become an instructor! I knew myself well enough to know that I needed something to hold me accountable to getting in shape and by being an instructor…well, I’d have to attend every class!

Between my love for music, dance and choreography, teaching Zumba has been the perfect life experience for me of having a darn “healthy” good time, participating in weekly dance parties, flat out throwing down and best of all…getting into the best shape of my life!

What do you do to truly have physical fun in your life? Do you work out? If so, do you have actual fun working out? Like I tell all my Zumba students, you absolutely do NOT have to be an experienced dancer or fitness nut to get into Zumba and experience the positive effects of the Zumba dance party. If you love music, if you love to move – whether you have any rhythm or not! – if you have the right instructor for you, you will absolutely LOVE Zumba. Whether on land or in the water, your body will thank you for letting it experience the joys of Zumba fitness!

If you live in the Midlands area, come check out my Aqua Zumba classes on Thursdays at 10:15 a.m. at the Gold’s Gym Columbiana Point location. And starting in September I’ll be teaching regular Zumba classes on Wednesdays at 8:15 a.m. and Fridays at 6 p.m. at the Gold’s Gym Columbiana Point location too. If you’re truly interested in partying with me, feel free to email me and I’ll update you on any other classes I may be teaching! I’ll be adding more classes in the future and am often subbing for other teachers!

Check out the following links and join in on the Zumba Dance Party Fun! Let’s throw down – healthy, super groovin’ style!

If you watch anything, watch the 1st video below. It will inspire you and make you smile for sure!

http://www.nbc.com/the-biggest-loser/video/buddy-gets-zumba-licious/1392982/

http://www.zumba.com/en-US/about/

Be Prepared: Not Just for Boy Scouts

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

“To be prepared is half the victory.” — Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Spanish writer

Mary Pat Baldauf

When asked the secret of my success for the healthy lifestyle change that resulted in a 90-something lb. weight loss, I’d have to say preparation, hands down. Don’t get me wrong.  It took a village to transform my life:

  • A nutrition counselor to educate me on healthy eating, challenge me to try new things and coach me through the rough spots.
  • Personal trainers who carefully guided my workouts, helped me to know my potential (and limitations), and kept me motivated to exercise at 5 a.m.
  • Friends, family and co-workers who cheered me on, encouraged me on rough days and tolerated my newly found soapbox.
  • My employer, the City of Columbia, who not only introduced me to the Doctors Wellness Center program, but also paid for the first 12-weeks and a follow up maintenance period.

But the thing that tied all of those things together? Planning and preparation.

Here are five tips that made a difference in my journey.  In one way or another, they all go back to being prepared.  Any of these tips could really be a post on their own, but for convenience, I’ll give you the “Readers Digest Condensed Version:”

  1. Make a Weekly Menu Plan and Cook Ahead for the Week: To eat healthy, you can’t fly by the seat of your pants. Unless you’re superwoman (or have a chef), you can’t cook every day either. On Friday, I look at the coming week, make notes of special challenges and plan several items I can prepare ahead of time. Over the weekend, I make several dishes, pack one-serving portions and pop them in the fridge and/or freezer.  Soup, chili and bean dishes work especially well.
  2. Do Prep Work Ahead of Time: Let’s face it; some things just don’t lend themselves to pre-cooking and freezing. For that, I do as much as I can ahead of time – that cuts out quite a bit of time in the kitchen. One of my favorite recipes is Glazed Tofu. On Sundays, I mix a large batch of the sauce, divide it into portions and freeze it. The night before I want to cook it, I drain the tofu and pull out a sauce from the freezer. When I get home the next day, it’s as easy as throwing it on the stove.
  3. Expect the Unexpected: Ever pack a healthy lunch and leave it on the counter?  Or get stuck at your desk when you’d planned on eating healthy at home?  Keep healthy, non-perishable food in the car, the office and in your purse.  Bring several lunches for the work ‘fridge at the beginning of the week.  Eat something healthy before going to special events. At first, it’s hard to hone those clairvoyant skills, but soon it becomes second-nature.
  4. Take Your Show on the Road: Traveling for work or pleasure? With a little planning and creativity, you can do as well on the road as you do at home. Look at your itinerary and plan accordingly.  If some meals are provided, check the menu and don’t be afraid to make special requests.  Use the Internet to research area markets and grocery stores, restaurant menus and hotel amenities.  Pack non-perishables like peanut butter and raisins, as well as non-breakable containers and a set of utensils.
  5. Schedule Activity: Make exercise a priority. Schedule time on your calendar for it, and don’t let anything keep you from it. My job often requires me to attend evening meetings and events, so the best time for me to exercise is in the morning. Most weekdays, I’m at the gym between 5 and 5:30 a.m., back home in the shower by 7 a.m.  I’m not a morning person by nature, but with a little preparation, it’s not so bad. Don’t do mornings?  You don’t have to; just find your best time and work through the challenges that might stand in your way.

What changes have you made to accommodate a healthier lifestyle? Do you have a particular challenge you’re facing when it comes to improving your health?  How have you (or could you) prepare to meet that challenge?