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Welcome to the friends series part 7! Recently, I caught up with my Zumba instructor to chat with him about his love for the art of dance. Not only does he lead a dance class once a week, he is highly requested at multiple events around the state! He exhibits a patient calm, demeanor when speaking with others, but his energy is contagious and electrifying when he’s teaching Zumba! He takes pride in teaching his students how to dance and for this reason, his students are loyal. Below is our conversation!
Moetips: I met you at the YMCA over four years ago while attending Delicia’s Zumba class. Your love for dancing is so inspiring! I noticed your enthusiasm and how your movements aligned with Delicia’s choreography. You were also the only male in the room quite often. When did you realize that you are a talented dancer?
AXS: I’ve been dancing for a long time, but I didn’t start off dancing as well as I do now. Honestly, I was pretty terrible at dancing! I lacked confidence, mostly due to being picked on so badly while growing up, and I lacked understanding. I knew that I wanted to learn to dance at age 13 when I went to my first Baltimore club music party in Essex. There, I heard this energetic style of music that I’ve never heard on the radio and I saw a style of dancing that was out of this world! I started practicing on my own at age 16. I attended hip-hop classes for children in Towson and I had an amazing time. I have come a long way since then!
Moetips: Later, as our friendship developed, I learned that you danced with a group and you performed at several venues throughout Baltimore. How did you become involved with a dance group? Do you currently perform with the group? How often did you perform?
AXS: At age18, I joined my first dance group and from there, the real changes started. I became involved with a group called “Immate Us”. The dance group met in Park Heights, and once you get involved in one dance group, others just seem to fall in your lap if you part ways with the group or the group decides to disband. I do not perform as often as I use to simply because I am interested in other projects at the moment and I am a bit older. However, I recently performed in a lip sync play where I had to dance and portray the “Shirtless Gladiator” earlier this year. I enjoyed the challenge and the excitement of doing something that was outside of my comfort zone, and this play was very challenging for me.
Moetips: You became a certified Zumba instructor! Your choreography is amazing! What is your process for developing new routines? Is it difficult? How do you keep your class engaged?
AXS: Thank you, Moetips! The process heavily depends on the construction of the song. How the music tempo makes me feel gages how I choose to choreograph the routine. Most of the time, I make up the choreography while I am on the road at work in my head as I play the song on repeat. I choose the songs based on how they impact me personally. If the song does not excite me then I will not use it as I don’t expect it to excite others. If I am having trouble with certain cultural styles outside of my comfort zone, I try to pull inspiration from YouTube, although that truly seems to never help me 90% of the time so I just keep brainstorming until it feels just right.
Moetips: You work full-time. How does your career impact the time you spend developing dance routines?
AXS: My career as a CDL driver helps me to brainstorm most of my routines. Being behind the wheel gives me time to think about routines. I also think about routines while I’m off work. I will say that I tend to make sure that any job I take allows for my evenings to be free to enable me to teach dance fitness.
Moetips: I’ve attended several Zumba classes throughout the state of Maryland and I have not seen another male Zumba instructor. Are there many male Zumba instructors in the state of Maryland? What made you become a Zumba instructor as opposed to being a participant?
AXS: There are a handful of other male instructors like myself, Socrates, and Brian Rice. We all performed at a “Rave Event” recently. Honestly, I was okay with not instructing at all but as a male who dances the way I do, I was encouraged over and over to become an instructor. Our instructors at the YMCA were in and out and I wanted to step up and fill in so we can all still have fun. Now, I am still here 3 years later and loving that I became an instructor! What I love the most about this job is that I get to meet so many peaceful, loving people.
Moetips: You’ve attended out-of-state Zumba conferences. What have you learned? How intense is the Zumba certification process? Is re-certification a requirement for a number of years?
AXS: What I’ve learned from attending conferences is that they hold all of the good songs and choreography for the conference and send you the crap stuff online. At last year’s Zumba conference, I learned that simple but engaging choreography is the most desired form of dance fitness. I have learned that Zumba focuses more on the business aspect and less on providing good quality fitness. Therefore, you are not required to recertify as long as you are paying your $34.00 membership fee each month.
Moetips: Recently you began strength training to build muscle. In a world where people say that they don’t have time to exercise, how does this fit into your busy schedule?
AXS: As with anything, you make time for everything that is important. I also know my schedule and when I am able to fit in strength training. When I have a full day, and I want to strength train, I go to bed much earlier and head to the gym prior to work. If not, I go after work. I treat strength training and fitness like a second job in order to stay consistent with my fitness goals.
Moetips: Zumba and strength training is intense! What does your diet consist of?
AXS: My diet mostly consists of grilled chicken, turkey, white rice, corn, lima beans, chicken teriyaki, turkey, ground beef, fruits, and eggs. For beverages, I only consume diet tea or diet root beer. I make sure to consume the number of calories I need so my body will not use muscle for energy, and I burn off body fat and calories by lifting weights and performing cardio exercises.
Moetips: Do you have any future fitness goals?
AXS: My future goal is to have a visible six pack which I am well on my way. I would like to become a personal trainer. I also want to start teaching master classes to enable me to take Zumba to another level. I want to record more videos showing different choreography. In addition, I want to promote diversity to show unity amongst all ethnicities within the Zumba fitness community. I am working towards my goal of becoming a front-end web developer. Lastly, I would like to visit Arizona, California, and Montreal in the upcoming year.
Moetips: Can you share any fitness tips with our readers?
AXS: Never start a fitness journey that you are not able to commit to. Don’t take shortcuts! Exercising for some is easier when you ask another person deeply rooted in fitness to accompany you, support you, and encourage you if you are ready to commit. Coffee, cigarettes, and alcohol are all habits that will prevent you from reaching your goals. The hardest time to stay committed is during the winter months. When the sun goes down and it’s cold out, we tend to want to stay home and stay warm. But if you stay consistent throughout this period, you will have the summer body you desire! Never expect to be summer ready the moment it’s warm out again. Strength training is crucial for getting optimal results. Do not skip leg day! Loving yourself the entire time along the way will help you transition smoothly. If you are looking for fast results, you are setting yourself up for failure. Love what you have now, and only concentrate on your fitness, not the progress. Over time, you will see the results. Finally, there is a wealth of information on YouTube about strength training techniques and cardio. Figure out what works best for you!
I thanked AXS for sharing this valuable information with our community! Readers, I would encourage you to find activities that make you happy! Do you love to dance? For more information about fitness and Zumba, follow AXS on Instagram @dancing_gaming!
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