How I Became a Licensed Zumba Instructor

Okay you Zumba fans, I get it!!!

Up until last Wednesday I had only taken two or three Zumba classes, and though I had a blast, I didn’t become a Zumba fanatic as so many of my friends have…

Taking class…

After class…

After class…

If a friend invited me to join her and the class was at a convenient time at a convenient location, I was happy to tag along, but I did not exactly seek out Zumba classes.

Not that there is any shortage of classes in LA. I just wasn’t motivated enough to commute, and dedicate countless hours to it,  especially this past year.  I have had very limited personal time and had to be smart about my workouts. So more often than not I chose to do a 20 minute BURST session at home.

In all honesty, I’ve also always thought of Zumba as a fun but mostly cardio workout. The few classes I had taken left me mildly sweaty and pleasantly sore, but I never felt like I had gotten a serious and intense workout, something I love and crave!

All that changed last Wednesday….

CU Zumba master class listing

I was invited to join a special group of Sweat Pink ambassadors and Blogfest attendees for a private eight hour Zumba Basic 1 class lead by the feisty Marcie Benavides joined by her hubby DJ Francis who provided custom mixes for us throughout the day.

We gathered promptly at 8 am at the LA Convention Center, clad in comfy work out clothes and sneakers, eager for the fun to begin.  After a brief introduction to Zumba by Marcie, our ZES (Zumba Education Specialist), we launched into our first 90 minute master class of the day.

Everyone present was either a fitness enthusiast, personal trainer or fitness coach of some sort, and we came ready to bring it on!

And so did Marcie!!!

It was intense, fast paced and challenging!

By the end of that first dance session I had gained a whole new appreciation of, and respect for Zumba.

I wasn’t mildly sweaty, I was drenched!  

And elated!

Posing with Zumba Master Instructor Marcie Benavides

With Marcie Bonavides, our fabulous Zumba instructor

Marcie is a firecracker! She’s got sass and she can dance!

She knows how to keep a class going without stopping for even one second,  moving seamlessly through different tempos and rhythms, adapting the intensity and complexity of her moves to meet the needs and ability of her students.  She knows how to turn Zumba into a fun dance party and a high energy, heavy duty and rewarding workout!

Yes that is Zumba — not a just a fun fad but a respectable and satisfying workout that works you as hard as you are willing and leaves you happy and pleasantly spent!

Why had I not experienced this before? Just as with any other kind of workout, it’s all about the instructor. The instructor has everything to do with your experience of the class.

What Makes a Great Zumba Instructor?

A great Zumba instructor knows how to assess her class within the first few minutes and will modify the intensity and complexity of the routines to meet all of her students’ needs, and Marcie demonstrated that with ease.

As Beto Perez, the man behind Zumba reiterated beautifully during a session with him on Friday (more to come on that 🙂 ), a good Zumba instructor teaches for everyone in the class and pays special attention to those in the back of the class. Those who are a little more awkward and perhaps not as coordinated, those who might get discouraged and never come back if the class was taught for the students in the front row.   Zumba is as much for the super fit, seasoned athlete as it is for the spunky sixty year old or the overweight twenty seven year old looking for a way to start her journey back to health.

That is gold and that is what makes a great Zumba instructor and a great fitness instructor no matter what the specific workout may be.

What does a Zumba Instructor need to know?

The rest of the day was divided between breaking down the core rhythms of  Zumba, learning the repertoire of moves for feet and arms, how to adapt them to meet the needs of various students and how to add our own signature flair.  We also learned how to choreograph to any song. That was one of my favorite parts of the class as it is a skill I can use when I teach aerial fitness.

Marcie demonstrated how to identify the different movements of a song, determine the beat and choose a series of appropriate moves.

We ended the day with another killer workout that was a completely new experience now that I understood what was really going on.

The beauty of Zumba is that it really is for everyone and for many who would otherwise have given up on themselves, it is the one thing that gets them started on their journey to health.

Yes Zumba can be that powerful and that is why I am excited to now be a licensed instructor!

Am I ready to get out there and start teaching right away?

No way!

I’m ready to take a bunch of classes, armed with the tools I’ve been given, to observe and learn from various instructors and keep studying the materials that will be coming to me monthly.

Yes I look forward to teaching but I’ll give myself a few months before I jump into it.

I don’t want to be a mediocre Zumba instructor, I want to be a great one, and that my friend does not happen overnight. That’s okay, I’m ready and eager to keep on learning!



  1. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says:

    Zumba is my favorite way to workout. It is so much fun and an awesome workout.

  2. I am not in shape at all, but would have loved to have attended that session. I have taken a few Zumba classes at my local gym and they were a lot of fun. I just need to find more time in my day so that I can do it more often. Congratulations on being a licensed instructor!

    • Lynda I have some bad news for you — you won’t find the time. The good news is, you can and must make the time. If you love Zumba and it makes you feel good about yourself, gives you energy and joy then you must make it a priority to carve out some time for at least one or two classes a week. Trust me on this, you are so worth it and you will find that when you do, you’ll get to everything else on your schedule with more energy and focus. Go do it!!

  3. Congrats on getting your license for zumba! That is so cool — I bet that you have so much fun and it helps to keep you in shape. I would love to do this too.

    • Thanks Daisy! Yes it was so much fun. I loved Marcie’s energy and she really showed us how easily we can turn a super fun workout into a super challenging one! I can’t wait to start teaching!!

  4. Oh heavens I am so out of shape, but seriously trying to change that ASAP! Sounds like you had so much fun! Good luck on becoming an instructor!!

    • Thanks Kim! Try Zumba! I’ve heard so many success stories from people who could not find a way to make any other type of workout work for them. Zumba works because it makes you feel happy. Remember the best way to get back into shape is to start where you’re at and move from there. Find a class that you enjoy and start your journey back to health one step at a time.

  5. Zumba is so much fun! I love any exercise that involves a little music and dancing

  6. Congratulations on becoming an instructor!! I have taken a few Zumba classes, but my lack of coordination keeps me from going back. I always have a blast when I go, though!

    • Thanks Sara! We had a couple of ladies in our group that struggle with coordination and that is where I saw the strength of our teacher Marcie. As soon as she saw that they were struggling she’d bring our movements back to basics so they could get back in the swing of things. That is something she emphasized for all of us new instructors — keep an eye out for the ones who struggle and do whatever you need to make them feel good about the class. I hope you find a great instructor where you are who can take you step by step, break it down so you can follow and before you know it you’ll be at the front of the class 🙂

  7. Zumba sounds like such a fun way to stay in shape. It’s great that you were able to come across such an awesome instructor.

  8. I love Zumba, it’s so much fun. I even have the home workout set for when I can’t get to the gym for classes. I think it’s awesome you’re an instructor now. Congratulations!

  9. I’ve never tried Zumba, but you’ve made it sound like so much fun. I need to give it a try, but I think I’d probably go with a friend the first time.

  10. I’ve never taken Zumba. It sounds like quite the workout, though.

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