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Oh What a Night!

Ready to get “Movin’ for a Cure”!

I really only need two words to sum up my Friday night: Zumbathon® rocked!

The energy that filled the Roseland Ballroom was palpable the moment Ebonny and I walked through the doors and were greeted by fellow Zumba lovers wearing sparklers in their hair. (Of course, I had to buy a sparkler!) By the way, Ebonny is the fabulous fitness friend who introduced me to this amazing phenomenon last year. I was so glad we could participate in this event together! An added bonus was catching up with another Zumba pal, Michelle, whom I hadn’t seen since my Basic Instructor licensing workshop. After snapping some photos and downing some water, it was time to get moving with Zumba® Fitness and Team Fox in the fight against Parkinson’s Disease!

As soon as Michael Jackson’s “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)” started blaring from the speakers, I knew I was in for a booty-shaking good time! With our heart rates elevated and muscles warmed up, Zumba superstars Tanya Beardsley and Gina Grant took the stage and led us through the energizing Zumba mash-up of Merengue, Salsa, Cumbia and Reggaeton. (I was lucky enough to have Tanya as my instructor for the licensing workshop back in January!) As the two hours flew by to the feel-g00d sounds of songs like “Caliente” by Daddy Yankee, I sweat more than I have from any workout in recent memory – and I never stopped smiling.

WIth Zumbalicious friends Ebonny & Michelle

Just like the classes I’ve taken, this event featured Zumba lovers of all ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels. While I certainly couldn’t nail all the moves Tanya and Gina busted out with ease, and despite my turning in the wrong direction at least a half-dozen times, I never felt self-conscious. Why? Because Zumba isn’t about mastering each and every step. It’s about enjoying the moment and letting the music move you. Fueled by a constant flow of positive energy, you get all the benefits of exercise and an extra dose of fun.

One of the Zumba mantras Tanya had us repeat over and over again during our training workshop was this: “Leave your ego at the door.” If you’re someone who shys away from going to the gym because you’re self-conscious and you dislike the idea of “traditional” exercise programs, give Zumba a try.

Of course, the added bonus of this particular feel-good event was knowing the proceeds would help the Michael J. Fox Foundation’s aggressive search for a cure for a disease that affects more than one million people in the United States. Beth Hochstein, the force behind this Zumbathon, is one of them.

At the age of 36, the podiatrist and foot surgeon was diagnosed with young-onset PD. She retired from her career and after finding Zumba helped her reduce her symptoms, she became a licensed instructor. As a Team Fox member, she’s raised more than $60,000 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation – and that was before Friday night’s Zumbathon! It was exhilarating to be a part of something to help in the ongoing fight against the progressive and chronic disease of the nervous system.

Superstars Tanya Beardsley & Gina Grant were amazing!

The final takeaway from this night was it made me realize I really want to start teaching! With some more practice and dedication, I hope that some time in the not-so-distant future I’ll have another way to help others on their journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Friday Night Fun!

I’ve been looking forward to this particular Friday since April. That’s when I bought my ticket for tonight’s Zumbathon® at Roseland Ballroom here in New York City!

More than one thousand people are expected to get their Zumba on during what’s sure to be an amazing event. It marks the first time Zumba® Fitness and Team Fox have joined forces to raise money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation and its fight against Parkinson’s Disease. PD is a progressive and chronic disease of the nervous system marked by tremor and muscular rigidity.

Here are some of the latest statistics for Parkinson’s Disease in the United States from the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation:

  • Nearly one million Americans live with Parkinson’s disease.
  • Between 50,000 and 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year.
  • An estimated seven to 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s disease.

Needless to say, I’m excited to get moving to the sounds of Merengue, Salsa, Cumbia and Reggaeton for a good cause. I’m also pumped because the event is being presented by Zumba superstars Gina Grant and Tanya Beardsley. I was lucky to have Tanya as my instructor for my basic instructor licensing workshop back in January. I simply can’t wait to experience the positive and booty-shaking energy she and Gina will surely create in a crowded ballroom. Last but certainly not least, I can’t wait to enjoy a heart-pounding good time with some Zumba friends and I also look forward to meeting new ones!

You know what I’ll be writing about for Monday! Til then, I wish you all a wonderful weekend and whether your plans include Zumba or a long walk on the beach, here’s to plenty of opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Using Fitness to Make a Difference

If you’re looking for ways to add some variety to your fitness routine, why not turn your passion for being healthy into a vehicle for helping others?

As many of us look for ways to take our workouts outdoors, this is the perfect time of year to sign up for a walk, run or other athletic event in a town near you that raises money and awareness for everything from cancer to childhood disabilities. Just this past Saturday, my friend Rob laced up for a 5K run in Central Park to benefit the YAI Network, an organization that’s been helping people with developmental disabilities and their families since 1957.

Of course, there are also plenty of fun and meaningful indoor fitness activities to join. I was so excited when my weekend mail included my ticket to the June 29th Zumbathon event at Roseland Ballroom. The proceeds will benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation and its fight against Parkinson’s Disease. The event co-stars the legendary Tanya Beardsley, who I was lucky to have as my instructor for my licensing workshop earlier this year. I can’t wait to enjoy a heart-pounding good time with some of the gals I met at that workshop, and make some new Zumba friends. The best part will be knowing I shook my booty for a great cause!

If you’re looking for ways to combine your love of fitness and the desire to do good deeds, I found a pretty cool website called CharityHappenings.org.  You enter your home state or zip code, the range of dates you’re looking for, and you can then select from a list of activities ranging from golf outings to dancing. You can even narrow your selections by causes ranging from animals to autism.

Whatever you do, another bonus to signing up for a fitness event is you can encourage members of your fitness family to join in the fun. Not only will you motivate each other to push through the last mile or spin cycle, but you get to enjoy breaking a sweat with people you’ve probably been hoping to spend more time with anyway!

We all know the health benefits exercise has to offer, but how great is it being able to turn your heart-pounding moves into positive energy for the world around you? I can’t think of a better reason to continue the search for the countless ways to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Laura Loves ZUMBA®!

with Tanya Beardsley, International Zumba Education Specialist

Happy Monday, everyone! I’m so excited to write this blog post that I’m having a hard time typing my thoughts coherently. After a sluggish start to 2012 (thanks to my New Year’s cold), I’m now ready to tackle the fitness adventures awaiting me in the year ahead – and it’s all because of Zumba® Fitness!

It was only a couple of months ago that I actually took my first Zumba® class thanks to some encouragement from Ebonny Fowler. Ebonny is the Fitness Services Manager at the New York Sports Club I work out at most often, and she’s offered some great support as I continue to chart my course in the fitness industry. After just one class, I had only one question: why in the world didn’t I try this amazing dance-fitness program based on international rhythms years ago? (Anyone who knows me knows I love to dance as much as I love to exercise, so the combination of the two for a workout couldn’t be a more perfect fit for me!)

Fast forward to January 7, 2012 and there I was sweating it out at the Shorefront Y of Brighton Beach with nearly 50 other women and men of all ages for Basic Instructor Training. There were so many things that made the day amazing – the positive energy; the booty-shaking, body-sculpting beats; the new friendships – but the most incredible part of this training day was our instructor. Tanya Beardsley is an International Zumba Education Specialist and the Co-Host of the Zumba DVD Series. Aside from her ability to create a workout featuring fun and fiery choreography combining the Zumba mix of Merengue, Salsa, Cumbia and Reggaeton, Tanya’s passion to make other peoples’ lives better through fitness was nearly palpable and most definitely infectious. Like any good teacher, Tanya inspired me to want to learn even more so I can truly help others in their fitness journey when I start teaching classes.

This whole experience reminded me of something very important. It’s never too late – and you’re certainly never too old- to find something that moves or motivates you. (Actually, no matter how young or old you are, I’ll warn you a days’ worth of Zumba drills, along with one master and one mini-class will leave you needing a day of rest afterward!)

I’m beyond excited to kick off this new week as a Licensed Zumba Instructor. I look forward to keeping in touch with Tanya and the new fitness friends I met at the course. (We’re already planning to travel to an annual convention together in the future!) More than anything, I look forward to the work ahead in memorizing music and creating fun routines that will hopefully help more people have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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