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Day 1 of ZINCON 2016

Posted on August 7, 2016 by under Travel, Zumba.    

Day 1 for me consisted of the kick off session, Bachata Extreme with Carlos Henriquez and Mo Diakite, Learn to Cue Like a Pro with Michael Thomas, and Armando Salcedo’s master class. I respected the rules this year and didn’t take any videos of the routines, which I immediately regretted because it’s only been a week and I can barely remember anything. I totally overestimated by memory.

Bachata Extreme was phenomenal. I highly recommend it. Carlos and Mo did a fantastic job. They were super organized and even gave us choreo notes in our workshop handout which we received in an email prior to arriving at ZINCON. We also danced the two songs we learned at least four times. I was like, “There’s no way that I’m not going to remember this.” I was wrong.

There was so much information crammed in my brain over the next four days that by the end of the second day, I couldn’t remember the titles of the two songs we learned in the Bachata Extreme workshop let alone the choreos. Next year, I’m totally saving Bachata Extreme for my final session so that it will be easier to remember the awesome routines.

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I had Learn to Cue Like a Pro next. After taking Pro Skills with Steve Boedt and after teaching Zumba for over four years, you’d think that I have this cuing thing down. However, I still feel like my cuing can use some improvement.

What exactly is cuing? A cue is a word or an action that tells class participants what will come next. Cuing is very important not just for safety reasons but because also telling the class what comes next helps them to be more successful. When you can cue really well, you don’t have to stop in between songs to explain the choreo to the class because you can tell them exactly what to do and when to do it using strong cuing skills. I’ve been working on my cuing since I first started teaching Zumba classes and I continue to work on it. I really try to focus on cuing well and I believe my strong emphasis on cuing is why people find me pretty easy to follow, which I hear a lot. I often tell people that my class is super duper easy but Susan, one of my regulars, is quick to correct me. “You’re easy to follow but your class is definitely challenging,” she says.

I have a pretty textbook approach to my Zumba classes: I always try to follow the Zumba formula as much as possible; I make it a point to incorporate a variety of rhythms; and I am extremely anal about having a 10-15 minute warm up because I use a lot of fitness moves like squats, lunges, and jumping jacks throughout the class. They’re disguised, of course, so the class doesn’t realize it but I would say there’s definitely 30-35% fitness moves in every class I teach. As with anything, you get what you put in. You can take it pretty easy or you can kick up it up a notch with big movements, deep squats, and maintaining a high intensity throughout the class.

But I digress… Back to cuing… I use a combination of both verbal and non-verbal cues. Traditionally, we’re not supposed to verbally cue in a regular Zumba class. However, they really like for us to verbally cue at the YMCA so I make an effort to do so because I’m very by the book. I prefer to follow the rules but I do really like it when the class knows the routine well enough that I no longer have to verbally cue. The quality of the class is so much better when there are few interruptions to the music. And, verbals cues are exactly that — interruptions.

I’m going to write a separate blog post about cuing because there is so much information that I want to share with you and it’s important so I don’t want the message about cuing to get lost in this blog entry.


Michael Thomas did a great job facilitating the workshop. He held my interest the entire time. His sexy Australian accent might have had something to do with that, though. Jokes aside, I really learned a lot.

Finally, it was time for Armando Salcedo’s master class. I picked his class over all others because his master class looked super fun on the cruise and I couldn’t get in it. Every time we went, it was already over capacity. I didn’t take any videos because I was there to take the master class. I actually didn’t take any pictures either except for this one because there’s a funny story behind it.


These are Maritza Bustamante and Max Pizzolante. Max sings a couple of very popular Zumba hits (Shut Up and Dance, Vive Y Baila) so he is kind of a big deal. Anyway, I ended up dancing next to him in Armando Salcedo’s master class completely by accident. He looked like a regular guy — a handsome one, yes — but he didn’t dress all crazy like a famous person. He was in Zumba gear and he was standing there in his spot next to his beautiful wife Maritza, waiting for the class to start. They looked like a couple of ZINs, just like me, waiting to take the class.

So anyway, there was a spot next to him so that’s where I planted myself. It was a really good spot so I didn’t want to move. I stood there with my Zumba bag worried that if I left my really good spot, someone else would take it. So I turn to Max, not having any idea that it’s him, and I ask him to watch my spot while I put my bag up. I come back and we’re standing there waiting because we still had a few minutes (you have to get there early to get a good spot)… See this is another thing that threw me off. Celebrities don’t normally take the Zumba class with the regular folk and they’re never early. When J. Perry performed in Loretta Bates’ master class on the cruise, he was there but he didn’t take the class with us. So we’re waiting and I realize, if I’m going to really take advantage of this master class, I need to lose by ZINCON badge. I ask the nice man again to watch my spot and make sure no one takes it while I put my badge with my bag, which he graciously does.

Then, as we are getting ready to start, Armando’s like “All of these bags right here need to go” for safety reasons. I guess because they could snag the skirt that surrounds the stage or something? Or maybe they get too far out and they trip someone as we’re moving around? I don’t know. None of the other presenters have said anything about it but something must have happened to Armando before that makes him leery of having bags below the front of the stage.

I thought, “OMG. This guy is going to kill me but I need him to watch my spot AGAIN!” Max was super nice and kept people from stealing my spot for the THIRD time. Finally, we get started and we’re dancing and — this is another reason why it didn’t click right away — he was keeping up really well. He was like one of us. Maybe he got the dancing skills from his wife who is a ZIN member but that hasn’t worked for Brian so I really thought Max was just another ZIN.

I’m dancing and start to lose myself to the class because I’m focused and having a great time and having an amazing workout and then pretty soon I realize, “Wow. I have so much more space to dance.” Then, I’m like “Where did that cute couple go?” But I don’t think much about it because I thinking, “More space for me. Yass!” Now, I’m making even bigger movements and really getting into it. And, then I see the two of them — on the stage! Max is singing. His wife is dancing next to Armando. And I’m like “Whaaaat?!” That’s why they disappeared. They were getting ready to go on stage.

There you have it. That’s my story of meeting Max Pizzolante and not realizing it was him until much later. But the best part is — he watched my spot not once, not twice, but three whole times! He wasn’t a diva about it and wasn’t like, “I’m not watching your spot. Don’t you know who I am? I’m kind of a big deal!” He was really down to earth. What a super guy!

Just for that, I’m going to start doing Shut Up and Dance and Vive Y Baila in my classes so more people will get to experience his music and maybe he’ll get even more famous, not just Zumba famous. Max Pizzolante is good people and we should support good people.


I’m going to end this post with a picture of me with Armando Salcedo and his team that we took at the end of his amazing master class. I loved every minute of it!

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  • Cruise Recap Cont’d – Day Five on February 8, 2016

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