January is the one month where we can all band together as a nation and declare that our pants no longer fit. You can feel the resolutions in the air; it’s time to get in shape! “Zumba is basically a big dance party and everyone forgets they are working out. It’s a cool way to get people excited to exercise and get to the gym!” says Briana Booth, a fitness instructor here at our very own Merage JCC.
How did you first hear about Zumba? Did you know right away that you wanted to teach it? One of my best friends, Jennifer Saar, has been a Zumba instructor for over four years and invited me to her class. I fell in love right away! I have been a dancer my whole life, on performance and competition teams growing up. I took a hiatus during college, which left a piece of my heart missing. The second I took this class and started dancing, my heart was engulfed with a fiery passion and love.
What’s your favorite part about teaching? I get to share my passion with others. It has brought me friends and opportunities I’d never even dreamed of, it’s a complete “win-win.” I get to exercise and dance, two things I truly love, while simultaneously helping others be healthy and engage in an activity that boosts their confidence and allows them to have fun and get fit. Hands down some of my favorite moments are when students nail a move they have had trouble working on, seeing the happiness and satisfaction on their face, and sharing that special connection with them.
What makes you passionate about physical fitness? Physical fitness allows me to feel strong, healthy, happy, energetic and confident and these benefits are translated in every aspect of my life. My class features mainly Latin and hip-hop dance styles, but sometimes I’ll add flares of Bollywood or belly dancing. Also, I add a weight-lifting element to my classes. I have three songs per class that are dances with weights (1-3lbs) to add some strength training with my cardio.
Tell me a little bit about the process of how you got to be a certified teacher and the origins of Zumba? In order to become a certified instructor, you have to take an all-day certification class. Once you receive your certification, it is up to you to create dances, find gyms to audition, and land an instructor job. The greatest thing with Zumba is that each instructor takes everything they learn and adds their own style and flare, so no class and no instructor is the same. For me, I add a lot of hip-hop because that’s where my experience lies.
Take it from me folks, this class is incredible! Briana teaches at the Merage JCC on Mondays and Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m., at 1 Federation Way #200, Irvine, CA. (949) 435-3400. Come join the dance party!
Tanya Schwied graduated from New York University, studied abroad in Israel, and currently works for the CEO and President of Jewish Federation & Family Services.