Thursday, 29 December 2011

The last class of 2011

Call it (or don’t) the Christmas effect, but the numbers were dwindling these last two weeks as follows: 4, 3, 2, 1... Yes just one student today. We still had our exercise but I hope there will be more people next Tuesday — which will be next year already!

The new song this week is Auld Lang Syne by Salsa Celtica: it starts as cha-cha-cha, then becomes salsa. For cool-down, I used Hippo by Johanna Juhola.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Not feeling generous

ZIN 36 CD/DVD pack arrived just in time for Christmas. Compared to ZIN’s previous offering, it is an improvement. Not very much of it, but still.

Music-wise, more of the same. The song called Taboo is nothing else but Chorando Se Foi (yes that Lambada). The only interesting one is Taki Contry which is slightly confusingly marked as “Celtic / Bluegrass”.

Now DVD. Live class in Ballerup — does not matter really, could have been anywhere. I mean, you can’t feel much of local Danish flavour. This time, Beto is on his own. I think he looks tired of all that. The camera still does not show enough close-ups; instead, now and then we have panoramic views of audience. What for? Once again, the last number, Taki Contry, is the only unusual choreo, with stepdance, Indian and country-and-western elements. I wish Beto did not take his top off though. The rest is OK, some useful moves, but not on the level of, say, ZIN 29.

One-on-one choreo with Kass Martin is even less impressive. The studio where she presents it now has some honeycomb-inspired background. Most unfortunate.

Now I really have to say a few words about this here ZIN 36 Sneak Peek. It looks like Zumba gets meaner in respect of its official videoclips too. ZIN 33 Sneak Peek was 1:29, while ZIN 35th was just under a minute. But the latest one is measly 21 seconds, several of which — frankly, quite unforgivably — show some Zumba fan adjusting her Zumbawear bra. If it was meant to make anyone curious, it fails spectacularly.

Song List

  1. La Fiesta Ya Se Encendió – Merengue *
  2. Culebra – Salsa *
  3. Rica y Apretadita – Techno Cumbia *
  4. Taboo – Axé / Urban *
  5. Chupeta De Trem – Calypso / Batucada *
  6. Te Ves Buena – Reggaeton *
  7. Save The Last Dance For Me – Cha-cha-chá *
  8. Las Gatitas – Reggaeton ◊
  9. Taki Contry – Celtic / Bluegrass ◊
* Covers
◊ Zumba Fitness originals

Thursday, 22 December 2011

¡Feliz Navidad!

The sports centre is closed from 22 December 2011 to 9 January 2012. So, since today, we are back to El Parque Botánico.

The new song this week is Bubamara by Fanfare Ciocărlia. I am really fond of it, maybe because this is the first choreo I ever created all by myself. Also, for our Christmas Special in the Park today, we did two songs which I promise not to repeat until next Christmas (otherwise it wouldn’t be Christmas Special, right?): Los peces en el río as interpreted by Lhasa and La Placita by Guaco.

Merry Christmas everybody, and see you next week in the park!

Song List

Tuesday
  1. Latin Ritual — Warm-Up
  2. Zumba Samba — Brazilian Dance
  3. Las Mujeres Lo Bailan Bien — Merengue
  4. Los Campeones de la Salsa — Salsa
  5. La Peinada — Quebradita
  6. Alegria Pa Zumbar — Samba
  7. Bla Bla Bla — Reggaeton / Cumbia
  8. Tunak Tunak Tun — Bhangra
  9. La Batidora — Reggaeton
  10. Baila Pa Emociona — Calypso
  11. Hecha Pa’lante — Bellydance
  12. El Baile del Gorila — Rumba Flamenca
  13. Mueve la Booty — Merengue
  14. Zorba — Sirtaki
  15. Bubamara — Romani — by Fanfare Ciocărlia
  16. Corazon Bandolero — Cool-Down — by Yerba Buena with Diego El Cigala
Thursday
  1. Aganjú — Warm-Up — Bossa nova — by Bebel Gilberto
  2. Chillin’ — Merengue
  3. Alegria Pa Zumbar — Samba
  4. Bubamara — Romani — by Fanfare Ciocărlia
  5. Caipirinha — Brazilian Dance / Bellydance
  6. La Peinada — Quebradita
  7. Los Campeones de la Salsa — Salsa
  8. Los PecesVillancico — by Lhasa de Sela
  9. Tunak Tunak Tun — Bhangra
  10. Baila Pa Emociona — Calypso
  11. Hecha Pa’lante — Bellydance
  12. Zorba — Sirtaki
  13. Kulikitaka — Merengue — by Banda Brasileña De Carnaval
  14. La Placita — Cool-Down — by Guaco

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

You must read (yes, really read)

Six months to the day after I got my Aqua Zumba qualification, the training manual finally arrived. Apart from time, it took quite a number of emails to Zumba’s home office. Apparently, this was the third attempt to send it to me by FedEx (third time’s a charm). I don’t know what exactly was the problem, all the other materials reach me in time by ordinary mail.

In other matters the home office acts much quicker (doesn’t mean better). Last week I discovered that I cannot log in to my Zumba account without going through this:
YOU MUST READ (YES, REALLY READ) AND AGREE TO THE TERMS OF THIS ZIN MEMBERSHIP & LICENSE AGREEMENT TO CONTINUE.
Oh dear. Irritating as it is, “agreeing” means simply clicking on a button “I agree”, but I took my time to read through. I wonder how many people cared to do that. Some points in this agreement peeved me more than others; the most annoying thing, however, is the generally patronising attitude of Zumba Fitness, LLC (“Zumba”). I have to admit that I got rather angry at first. Then I reached the section 15 (of 23). Why didn’t they move it to the beginning?
15. Relationship of Parties. The legal relationship between Zumba and Instructor shall be that of licensor and licensee. Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed as creating any partnership, joint venture, agency, franchise, sales representative or employment relationship between the parties, nor shall Zumba be deemed to be acting in a fiduciary capacity with respect to Instructor.
So that’s it then. Calm down, naïve Zumba instructor: “Zumba” is not your partner or employer. Nor is it your friend. It does not trust you, so I don’t see why you should trust it either. You should not feel any loyalty towards Zumba Fitness, LLC any more than towards, say, Microsoft when clicking on “I agree” button during software installation.

Ah, Zumba, Zumba, what a great idea, what a shame about all this corporate nonsense.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Are we having a blast?

No, seriously. What on earth do they (whoever authored that official Zumba page) mean under “having a total blast”? What is “blast” anyway?

The thing is, we are all guilty of word devaluation. We say “fine” when we mean “acceptable”, “great” when we mean “better than usual”, and “awesome” when we mean “good”. Likewise, we say that we are “happy” when we are merely satisfied with something. To quote the recent BBC news report,
A UK wide survey has revealed that dancing and going to the gym are among the things that make us happy.
Sure, I am glad that 2 million people in Britain attend Zumba classes, but... really? Going to gym makes us happy?

All in all, Zumba classes is a product that we sell and our students buy. One cannot buy or sell happiness. I can only hope that my students are looking forward to classes, enjoy the classes, feel good after the classes.

I think I begin to understand why Zumba is such a big hit in overworked countries like US and UK but met with much less enthusiasm here in Spain. For Zumba to succeed here, a different, um, marketing approach is needed. Spaniards are not likely to buy a “blast”. (Nor “Latin-inspired”, for that matter.)

That’s enough ranting for now. The new song this week was La Peinada. Also, I used the Gotan Project’s version of Last Tango in Paris theme for cool-down.

Song List

  1. Mbube — Warm-Up (1) — African song — by Miriam Makeba
  2. Adouma — Warm-Up (2) — Afro-pop — by Angélique Kidjo
  3. Las Mujeres Lo Bailan Bien — Merengue
  4. Los Campeones de la Salsa — Salsa
  5. La Peinada — Quebradita
  6. Bla Bla Bla — Reggaeton / Cumbia
  7. Tunak Tunak Tun — Bhangra
  8. Dança Da Mãozinha — Axé
  9. La Batidora — Reggaeton
  10. Baila Pa Emociona — Calypso
  11. Hecha Pa’lante — Bellydance
  12. El Baile del Gorila — Rumba Flamenca
  13. Mueve la Booty — Merengue
  14. Zorba — Sirtaki
  15. Last Tango in Paris — Cool-Down — by Gotan Project

Friday, 9 December 2011

Zumba in the park

There were two public holidays this week: Día de la Constitución (6 December) and Inmaculada Concepción (8 December). Since the sports centre was closed, the classes took place in El Parque Botánico de Corralejo. I hope everybody who came did enjoy our alternative location, and we had quite a few new faces too!

The new song this week was Los Campeones de la Salsa by Willy Chirino.

Song List

Tuesday
  1. Anatomic — Warm-Up — by Afro Celt Sound System
  2. Chillin’ — Merengue
  3. Baila Pa Emociona — Calypso
  4. Zu Bailaito — Quebradita
  5. Alegria Pa Zumbar — Samba
  6. Tunak Tunak Tun — Bhangra
  7. Zorba — Sirtaki
  8. La Batidora — Reggaeton
  9. Caipirinha — Brazilian Dance / Bellydance
  10. Aguanile — Salsa
  11. El Baile del Gorila — Rumba Flamenca
  12. Hecha Pa’lante — Bellydance
  13. Culiquitaca — Merengue — by Toño Rosario
  14. Muna Xeia — Cool-Down — by Sara Tavares
Thursday
  1. Mbube — Warm-Up (1) — African song — by Miriam Makeba
  2. Adouma — Warm-Up (2) — Afro-pop — by Angélique Kidjo
  3. Las Mujeres Lo Bailan Bien — Merengue
  4. Los Campeones de la Salsa — Salsa
  5. Zu Bailaito — Quebradita
  6. Bla Bla Bla — Reggaeton / Cumbia
  7. Tunak Tunak Tun — Bhangra
  8. Dança Da Mãozinha — Axé
  9. La Batidora — Reggaeton
  10. Baila Pa Emociona — Calypso
  11. Toul Omry — Salsa / Bellydance
  12. El Baile del Gorila — Rumba Flamenca
  13. Chillin’ — Merengue
  14. Zorba — Sirtaki
  15. Meditation on Dvořák’s Slavonic Fantasy — Cool-Down — by Sophie Solomon

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Wheel and website

The pavements of Corralejo are starting to take their toll. On Thursday, I noticed that one of two suitcase-type wheels in my sound system is broken. Visits to the local hardware stores so far were not promising. Next week, because of public holidays, we are doing the classes in different location, namely in the Botanical Park (El Parque Botánico). Thankfully, it is much closer to my house, so if the wheel is still not fixed it is not a big problem.

In other news, I have launched my new — bilingual! — website built with Weebly. Thank you Elena Ureña for Spanish translation — so professional! (On the “what to bring” page, I have left Zumba’s footwear recommendations exactly as appear on their Spanish FAQ page.)

It was a quiet(er) week, so the classes were not too crowded. We tried two new songs: Zorba and Hecha Pa’lante.

Song List

  1. Mbube — Warm-Up (1) — African song — by Miriam Makeba
  2. Adouma — Warm-Up (2) — Afro-pop — by Angélique Kidjo
  3. Chillin’ — Merengue
  4. Hecha Pa’lante — Bellydance
  5. Zu Bailaito — Quebradita
  6. Baila Pa Emociona — Calypso
  7. Dança Da Mãozinha — Axé
  8. Zorba — Sirtaki
  9. La Batidora — Reggaeton
  10. Caipirinha — Brazilian Dance / Bellydance
  11. Meneando la Cola — Salsa
  12. Culiquitaca — Merengue — by Toño Rosario
  13. Muna Xeia — Cool-Down — by Sara Tavares

Friday, 25 November 2011

One month on

I had my first real Zumba class here a month ago. A month ago already? And what do you think?

I like this class. I like people in my class. I hope they keep attending, bring their friends, spread the word and so on, so it grows organically. At this moment, I am not sure I even want to do a class every day, not to mention more than once a day. (Saying that, there is no imminent threat of this happening.)

The new songs this week are Zumbalicious and Meneando la Cola, plus Mbube for warm-up and Lua Nha Tetemunha for cool-down. Also, on Tuesday I tried Rosa (ZIN 32). I love this song and hope one day I will be able to do it properly — clearly it was not the case this time. Finally, on Thursday we did La Raspa (thank you Luisa!) — again, can’t say it was great but good fun anyway.

I feel very tired this week. This may have something to do with our stuff finally arriving from England, after almost four months. As a result, the living space is filled with boxes. On the plus side, all my CDs must be somewhere there. More new music!

Song List

  1. Mbube — Warm-Up (1) — African song — by Miriam Makeba
  2. Que Te Meueve — Warm-Up (2) — Merengue
  3. Caipirinha — Brazilian Dance / Bellydance
  4. Baila Pa Emociona — Calypso
  5. Zumbalicious — Salsa / Reggaeton
  6. Chori Chori — Bhangra
  7. Alegria Pa Zumbar — Samba
  8. Rosa — Cumbia †
  9. La Raspa — Mexican circle dance *
  10. Chillin’ — Merengue
  11. Meneando la Cola — Salsa
  12. El Baile del Gorila — Rumba Flamenca
  13. Zu Bailaito — Quebradita
  14. Lua Nha Tetemunha — Cool-Down — Morna — by Cesária Évora
† Tuesday only
* Thursday only

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

MegaMix 26

What exactly is “mega” in ZIN’s MegaMixes? I guess these supposed to be compilations of “greatest hits” suitable for Zumba. The trouble is, they are not. At least, the latest one definitely is not. Of ten tracks, there are seven covers (indicated by an asterisk *), no “Zumba Fitness originals” this time. It is listenable but, apart from Bolo Ta Ra Ra by Daler Mehndi, nothing to write home about. So I stop here.

Song List

  1. It’s Like This and Like That — Merengue — by Sounchek
  2. Descarga en Do — Salsa *
  3. Se Perdio La Cadenita — Cumbia *
  4. Pa KumPa! — Reggaeton *
  5. Bolo Ta Ra Ra — Bollywood — by Daler Mehndi
  6. Una Aventura — Rumba Flamenca — by Bandoleros
  7. Ritmo Caliente — Soca / Dance *
  8. Somos De Calle — Salsa / Reggaeton — by K.L.C. Clave Cubana
  9. Party in Miami — Merengue *
  10. Hay Que Empezar Otra Vez — Salsa *

Friday, 18 November 2011

1, 2, 3 and 5, 6, 7

It may be premature to say that my relationship with Azul Yoga & Pilates Studio came to an end; however on Monday I was informed that, due to the lack of students, the Zumba classes will stop for now. Well, that was a short stint, but all in all not quite useless. In any case, I got Monday and Wednesday evenings back.

This week, the new songs are Caipirinha, Chori Chori, Chillin’ and Píntame (Thursday only); plus Aganjú and Que Te Meueve for warm-up. It is quite a lot of new material, and I am not entirely sure that I did all these songs as well as I wanted (I am still trying to master the art of understatement.)

Now I heard the statement “Zumba is not a dance class” so many times (just Google this phrase and you’ll see what I mean) that I almost started to believe it myself. However, all beliefs should be challenged, even the most absurd ones. On Thursday, by popular demand, I spent about eight minutes going with the class through the basic salsa steps: first, with help of Eddie Torres’ counting track, and second, using Sergent Garcia’s song Píntame, which is mainly salsa with a bit of reggaeton. For the exercise purposes, we carried on salsa steps (1, 2, 3 and 5, 6, 7 and) in the “reggaeton” section and it worked like a charm.

Song List

  1. Aganjú — Warm-Up (1) — Bossa nova — by Bebel Gilberto
  2. Que Te Meueve — Warm-Up (2) — Merengue
  3. Alegria Pa Zumbar — Samba
  4. Caipirinha — Brazilian Dance / Bellydance
  5. La Batidora — Reggaeton
  6. Baila Pa Emociona — Calypso
  7. Chori Chori — Bhangra
  8. Zumba Samba — Brazilian Dance
  9. Chillin’ — Merengue
  10. 1, 2, 3 and 5, 6, 7 — Salsa count — by Eddie Torres
  11. Píntame — Salsa / Reggaeton — by Sergent Garcia
  12. El Baile del Gorila — Rumba Flamenca
  13. Zu Bailaito — Quebradita
  14. Holy Incense (Tibetan Version) — Cool-Down — by Sa Dingding

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Caipirinha on the beach

Zumba B1 training manual (v8.1, p. 35) says:
Barefoot or sock-foot is NOT ideal nor recommended due to lack of cushion and support.
This is kinda stating the obvious, don’t you think? When there is nothing around the foot (that’s why it’s called “bare”), you sure can talk about “lack” or “absence”. Big deal.

This cool version of Zumba anthem Caipirinha, performed by Lindsay Jay and friends, was filmed at Camber Sands. If one can do Zumba on the beach in East Sussex without cushion and support, there is no reason not to try the same here.

Friday, 11 November 2011

One quebradita too much?

This was a strange week. On Monday evening, nobody turned up at the Azul Yoga & Pilates Studio. Tuesday, four students at the the Pabellón. It was good as we tried a few new songs. Wednesday: one person at the Azul. (Still, infinitely more than on Monday!) Still, a class is a class, and I would hate to miss another evening of Zumba-ing. Luckily, one staff member joined us. And on Thursday, nine zumberas, including two new faces.

This week, the new songs are Alegria Pa Zumbar and Zu Bailaito (Thursday only); plus Latin Ritual for warm-up and Holy Incense (神香) for cool-down. I thought Zu Bailaito was a good fun, but it is a challenging song, what with all the cowboy horse-riding, and I know it leaves quite a few of us exhausted — that’s why I put it just before the cool-down.

Song List

  1. Latin Ritual — Warm-Up
  2. Zumba Samba — Brazilian Dance
  3. Las Mujeres Lo Bailan Bien — Merengue
  4. Alegria Pa Zumbar — Samba
  5. La Batidora — Reggaeton
  6. Tunak Tunak Tun — Bhangra
  7. Bla Bla Bla — Reggaeton / Cumbia
  8. Toul Omry — Salsa / Bellydance
  9. Baila Pa Emociona — Calypso
  10. El Baile del Gorila — Rumba Flamenca
  11. Mueve la Booty — Merengue
  12. Zu Bailaito — Quebradita
  13. Holy Incense (Tibetan Version) — Cool-Down — by Sa Dingding

Saturday, 5 November 2011

iriver iHP-140 jukebox

I bought this amazing piece of kit seven years ago and it is still alive! I even have a few gigabytes of its (40 GB) disk space left. Back in 2004, this was probably the best gizmo of its kind. Granted, even then it did not look as sexy as iPod, but it can do so much more. Most of my music there is in OGG format. It also is a surprisingly good-quality dictaphone. There is a (still unreleased) recording of a bass/drum/guitar trio (eventually becoming a duo as the drummer left the building) in the basement of my old workplace. (When I grow old and famous, I may want to release it to raise some cash.) Also, from time to time I used it just as a portable hard disk that it is.

And here’s a problem: where to get a replacement when (or, better, before) it crashes? iHP-140 is not available in shops any longer. According to Wikipedia, this player is discontinued and succeeded by iriver H300 series, which is also unavailable. Most of affordable MP3 players for sale now have no more than 8 GB memory. In the meantime, I hope it does not die a sudden death just before my Zumba class.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Two great classes

Yesterday I did my first Zumba class at the Azul Yoga & Pilates Studio. Four students (plus three staff members who just happened to be there) attended — much more than I’ve expected. The basement of the studio is cozy but rather small for eight people. Also, the room is rather echoey; I have to tweak an equaliser in my MP3 player to improve sound a bit. But it was a good fun. As I have one-hour slot (not one and a half, as at the Pabellón), and for a moment go through steps before each song, I had to drop couple of songs from the programme (marked with † below). In future I am going to talk less and have more time for dance!

Just as a week ago, it was raining today. OK that will be called “drizzle” in England but by the time I reached the Pabellón, I was soaking wet. Good thing I did not throw away original polyethylene packaging bag from my sound system — it kept the amp dry. We had a great class with eight zumberas, including two new students.

As promised, I will be changing the program by introducing a couple of new songs each week. This week, the new songs are Zumba Samba from ZIN 32 (which, incidentally, is not a samba at all) and Mueve la Booty; plus Rumba en la Noche for cool-down, but it does not look like anybody noticed any difference with last week’s Quiero Saber.

Song List

  1. Anatomic — Warm-Up — by Afro Celt Sound System
  2. Zumba Samba — Brazilian Dance
  3. Las Mujeres Lo Bailan Bien — Merengue
  4. Baila Pa Emociona — Calypso
  5. Aguanile * — Salsa
  6. La Batidora — Reggaeton
  7. Dança Da Mãozinha — Axé
  8. Tunak Tunak Tun — Bhangra
  9. Bla Bla Bla — Reggaeton / Cumbia
  10. Toul Omry — Salsa / Bellydance
  11. Con Moviemento † — Bachata / Reggaeton
  12. El Baile del Gorila — Rumba Flamenca
  13. Mueve la Booty † — Merengue
  14. Rumba en la Noche — Cool-Down — by Juan Manuel Cañizares
* Played only @ Azul Yoga & Pilates Studio
† Played only @ Sala Pabellón

Saturday, 29 October 2011

More classes coming

Just a month ago, I was pondering if it was time to edit my Blogger profile already; more specifically, to change my occupation from “jobless scientist” to “jobless Zumba instructor”. This week I did two Zumba lessons at the Pabellón, so probably I am not exactly jobless Zumba instructor after all. But wait: next week, I will be starting new classes at the brand new Azul Yoga & Pilates Studio (Calle Dr. Aristides Hernandez Moran, near the Blue Jazz Bar). The classes will be on Mondays and Wednesdays, 19:30 to 20:30; the first class is on Wednesday 2 November.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Aqua Zumba Vol. 5

I liked this collection better than the previous one. By now, only two girls are left in the pool but they seem to be enjoying the experience. There are two (not bad!) originals by K.L.C. Clave Cubana, the rest are covers. The program opens with Suavemente; this song works great in water too! But the most fun song is Busamba. One day I’d love to play it in a Zumba class.

Song List

  1. Suavemente — Merengue
  2. Dale Cintura — Salsa — by K.L.C. Clave Cubana
  3. Gotcha — Cha-Cha-Chá / Pop
  4. Amor Del Bueno — Cumbia / Pop
  5. Sin Aire — Latin Pop / Rock
  6. Cumbianchera — Cumbia
  7. Busamba — Salsa / Cha-Cha-Chá
  8. No Te Pido Flores — Cumbia
  9. El Celular — Salsa / Reggaeton — by K.L.C. Clave Cubana

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

My first real class

Sticking my posters around the town was fun, but it was mostly word of mouth (if you can call Facebook-ing that) that worked. I had six students today!

Tamara did come too and helped me a lot. That included showing a few steps which she really does better than me.

The program this week is almost identical to the one of my trial class last month, except for Baila Pa Emociona replacing Zu Bailaito. I thought quebradita will be a bit too much for my first lesson.

Song List

  1. Anatomic — Warm-Up — by Afro Celt Sound System
  2. Baila Pa Emociona — Calypso
  3. Las Mujeres Lo Bailan Bien — Merengue
  4. Aguanile — Salsa
  5. La Batidora — Reggaeton
  6. Dança Da Mãozinha — Axé
  7. Tunak Tunak Tun — Bhangra
  8. Bla Bla Bla — Reggaeton / Cumbia
  9. Toul Omry — Salsa / Bellydance
  10. Con Moviemento — Bachata / Reggaeton
  11. El Baile del Gorila — Rumba Flamenca
  12. Culiquitaca — Merengue — by Toño Rosario
  13. Quiero Saber — Cool-Down — by Gypsy Kings

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Make a difference

Together with thousands of other ZIN members, I got an email this week.
Get Wyclef’s new hit “Historia” for your Zumba® classes and Party in Pink™ Zumbathon® charity events — 10% of every iTunes download directly benefits Susan G. Komen for the Cure® and its global nonprofit partners.

You can also make a difference by calling your local radio station to request “Historia” so more people hear the song and want to download it. Your efforts will help millions worldwide!
Or, you can make even bigger difference by giving your hard-earned cash directly to the better charity.

If you buy Historia from iTunes for $1.29, you contribute just 13 cents to Komen, the establishment famous for pinkwashing and trademarking the very phrase “for the cure”. The remaining 90% presumably go to Wyclef Jean himself, recording company and iTunes. Personally, I would not buy a song from iTunes even if I happened to like it. Which is not the case here.

Don’t get me wrong: I am far from pooh-poohing the idea of Zumbathon. Finding a cure for breast cancer is a noble cause and Zumba charity event must be fun. But I really detest paying to Pink Ribbons, Inc. and the guy who used the Haitian earthquake for shameless self-promotion.

Unfortunately, there’s no much choice: currently, Komen is the only charity that can benefit from Zumbathon® events. (Why do they even have “Choose Benefiting Organization” menu there if there is nothing else to choose from?)

Among things I miss here in Fuerte are the charity shops. I bought some of my favourite shirts in the Cancer Research UK shop in Saffron Walden. And, although I am not a big fan of running, I really enjoyed watching their Race for Life in Cambridge.

You also can help fighting breast cancer without paying anything. How? Just go to The Breast Cancer Site and click!
When you click, we display ads from our site sponsors. 100% of the money from these advertisers goes to our charity partners, who fund programs to provide mammograms for women in need.
Isn’t it great?

Friday, 21 October 2011

Give me an adventure

Aqua Zumba, Zumba Gold, Zumba Toning, Zumba Gold-Toning, the brand-new Zumba Sentao™... Am I alone in thinking that with all this branching out, Zumba Fitness starts to lose its focus somehow? According to my Zumba instructor training manual,
The choice of music for a Zumba workout is the single most important element in a Zumba class.
Well then, let’s concentrate on music. In spite of all the diversification, the music supplied by Zumba progressively becomes less and less interesting. The latest ZIN 35 music CD is out there as if to illustrate this unfortunate trend. With the notable exception of mapalé Adiós Fulana, the tunes are instantly forgettable.

Now the DVD. The live class was shot at the Zumba Convention 2011. What a disappointment. I mean, forty minutes of the same five blokes, even if one of them is Beto, almost entirely in wide shot? And then the bonus track of the same five blokes plus Wyclef. Come on guys, I know you can do better. Better music, better camerawork, better Zumba! And when I say “better”, I mean “more adventurous”.

ZIN music CDs and especially choreography DVDs are part of the ZIN deal, in fact one of the main reasons to join ZIN. One can be excused for expecting quality music and quality choreo. When ZIN fails to deliver the quality, I cannot help feeling robbed.

Song List

  1. Trai La Bulla – Cumbia / Merengue
  2. Me Voy Pa Cali – Salsa
  3. Feel Like Dancing – Ragga / Pop
  4. Bounce – Merengue
  5. Conga (Zumba Remix) – Techno
  6. Qué Te Pasa – Cumbia / Hip-Hop
  7. Adiós Fulana – Mapalé
  8. A Namorada – Funk / Pop / Brazilian
  9. Quiero Volver A Mis 20 – Bachata

Friday, 14 October 2011

The Samba Reggae Workout

with Quenia Ribeiro

I bought this DVD on the strength of the Amazon reviews — and was not disappointed.

Quenia starts with Welcome and, in just two minutes, introduces the samba reggae Basic Steps. These look easy; that’s encouraging.

To my fellow Zumber@s, Quenia’s Warm-Up may seem more like “cool-down”: a lot of stretching exercises, some of them rather impressive. At 12 minutes, it is a bit longer than your typical Zumba class warm-up/cool-down. But you can’t have too much of a good thing. You will be sweating by the end of it.

In Workout #1 (about 37 minutes) Quenia builds up, well, a “routine”: shows a step, repeats, adds a new step, repeats “from the top”, shows a new step and so on. Non-stop. (Speaking of stops: the great thing about the DVD is that you always can use the stop button to catch your breath. I had to do that a few times during Workout #1.) “Routine” may sound boring, but actually it is a good fun. OK, I found Quenia’s verbal cues rather redundant and did not exactly fell in love with her voice. So what, I know how to turn the volume down, so it really is not a problem. It would be perfect if there was a way to quick-jump to particular steps, because the only way to navigate within Workout #1 is the good old fast-forward (or fast-backward).

Workout #2 (about six minutes) is basically the same routine as we learn in Workout #1 but danced at the higher pace. As by now we should know it more or less by heart, it goes without any commentary.

I love how Ms Ribeiro introduces her band and dancers and explains the role of each instrument. Once again, quite unlike Zumba Fitness Anonymous.

One day, I hope to learn how to dance samba properly. I can start with making good use of Quenia’s moves.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Quarterly report

I just realised that today is three months of my life in Corralejo. Are there any achievements to speak of?

Zumba classes given: one.
Children taught to ride a bicycle: two (14 and 10).
Space/time offered to give Zumba classes: one.
Hotels/gyms visited in search of said space/time: many.
Salsa classes attended: quite a few.

All in all, it was a nice Summer. I hope it will be an even better Autumn.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

My first ad

As I said earlier, I need to get a critical mass of students to start the classes. I have created my first printed advertisement with an intent to litter the town with it. Here it is:




(click here for a PDF file)

Monday, 3 October 2011

One step closer

Back in July, I went to Centro Cultural de Corralejo to enquire about a possibility to give Zumba classes there. From there (“Fitness? That’s sports, not culture!”) I was sent to Escuela Naútica where I was given the telephone of somebody in ayuntamiento (municipal council) in La Oliva. That was the end of the story then, for I was not quite prepared to phone there and explain myself in my embryonic Spanish.

Last week, the unexpected help came in the form of Tai Chi Chuan teacher Annalisa Paloschi. Not only did she take me from one desk (in Escuela Naútica) to another (in ayuntamiento), but also helped to fill the solicitud (application) and even volunteered to give her telephone number as a contact in case they phone back. They didn’t, so she did phone them instead. What an amazing lady.

Today we went to La Oliva again, to meet the person responsible for all the sporty activities. I brought with me the photocopies of my qualifications, the printout of Acerca de Zumba® Fitness from the official Zumba website and a promotional DVD. And, hooray, it looks like I have a slot booked for regular classes: Sala Pabellón de Corralejo, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00 to 12:30!

The catch? Before I start classes, I have to ensure there’s some critical mass of students (five or six, I am told, will do). You see, ayuntamiento is not that interested in walk-in classes. They rather prefer people to pay monthly, via bank. I see a bit of problem here: what if you enrol to do Zumba and after a few classes want to leave? The only way to avoid that is to make sure that absolutely everybody loves my Zumba classes.

So now it’s publicity time. I am working on a flyer to distribute around the town. The prospective students presumably should phone me and I take their details down. Then, when I have collected those, I contact ayuntamiento again and say, well, now I have my six students and ready to party!

Friday, 30 September 2011

The best Zumba instructor on the island

You know what, my bicycle excursions finally paid off. One day in August, I left a promotional DVD at the reception of the Oasis Papagayo hotel. The very same evening I received an email... To cut the long story short: I did my first Zumba lesson today by the poolside of the very hotel. I do not know yet if this was one-off event, or the one to become the regular gig. But, in a small way, the history was made today. Or so I’d like to think.

I know, I know, four o’clock is not an ideal time for a Zumba lesson. But this was only slot available this week. And look, it is still September, so I did a Zumba lesson this month! (As promised to myself.) Plus, I had a chance to test my Block Rocker outdoors.

In company of the hotel’s aqua fitness instructor, I did a little tour around the swimming pool. She did introduce me to the sunbathing hotel guests as “the best Zumba dancer in Corralejo”. Flattering, but true. “The best Zumba instructor on Fuerteventura” is also true. (As would be “the worst Zumba instructor on Fuerteventura”. Being the only Zumba instructor on the island means all these things.) We started with seven people attending! Well, half an hour later we lost four of them (back to their sunloungers I suppose) but three stayed till the end. Of the programme, they liked Dança Da Mãozinha, Tunak Tunak Tun and El Baile del Gorila the best.

Those of my readers who were lucky enough to attend Luisa’s Zumba classes in and around Saffron Walden would notice her influence — just have a look at my song list. I know I screwed (badly) couple of the songs but there was nobody present to tell that.

Song List

  1. Anatomic — Warm-Up — by Afro Celt Sound System
  2. Las Mujeres Lo Bailan Bien — Merengue
  3. Con Moviemento — Bachata / Reggaeton
  4. Aguanile — Salsa
  5. Dança Da Mãozinha — Axé
  6. La Batidora — Reggaeton
  7. Bla Bla Bla — Reggaeton / Cumbia
  8. Zu Bailaito — Quebradita
  9. Toul Omry — Salsa / Bellydance
  10. Tunak Tunak Tun — Bhangra
  11. El Baile del Gorila — Rumba Flamenca
  12. Culiquitaca — Merengue — by Toño Rosario
  13. Quiero Saber — Cool-Down — by Gypsy Kings

Thursday, 22 September 2011

MegaMix 25

Once in a while I allow myself to ask a rhetoric question. Here’s one: How come that Zumba Fitness LLC which cares so much about protecting its own brand cares so little about acknowledging the music it uses?

For instance: ZIN CDs and DVDs come without proper sleeves which means that the only place where the song details can be printed are the discs themselves. I don’t know whether it is an oversight or a clever trick; in any case we are provided with as little details as possible. Needless to say (but I was going to say it anyway), it is also rather inconvenient for the user.

Take the latest ZIN MegaMix. Of 14 (fourteen) tracks, only two (Zoomer and Masha Dia) explicitly acknowledge the artists. The rest are either “covers” (indicated by an asterisk *) or “Zumba Fitness originals” (indicated by a diamond ◊). There is nothing wrong with covers, but still I’d love to know both the authors and performers. As for the “originals”... well, there is no such musician or composer called Zumba Fitness, is there? (I will come back to this in my future posts, I promise.)

Now for the music itself. I quite liked the opening track Hola My Friend (but what on earth is “Pacific Rhythm”? I would say it is Caribbean) and cumbia La Cachucha Bacana. The closing Baila Me is not bad but I prefer the Gipsy Kings original. Meniando La Cola (surely it must be spelled Meneando La Cola) is truly great salsa song, unfortunately ruined here beyond repair by annoying “Zumba Fitness” watermarking. Luckily, the uncontaminated versions of this song are available elsewhere — such as this one by Sexappeal.

All in all, MegaMix 25 is not worse and not better than most of ZIN MegaMixes: two or three decent songs, couple of really awful ones and the forgettable rest.

Song List

  1. Hola My Friend — Pacific Rhythm ◊
  2. Zoomer — African Dance — by Les Jumo
  3. Desert Groove — Bellydance ◊
  4. Masha Dia — Ragga Caribbean — by K-Liber4Life
  5. Vem Vem — Brazilian Funk ◊
  6. Meniando La Cola — Salsa *
  7. La Cachucha Bacana — Cumbia Calypso *
  8. Knock On Wood — Pop / Dance *
  9. El Batazo — Reggaeton ◊
  10. Tao Tao — Quebradita *
  11. Gazab — Hindu Beat *
  12. Shawty Got Moves — Hip-Hop *
  13. 96,000 — Broadway *
  14. Baila Me — Rumba Flamenca *

Monday, 19 September 2011

Preposterous Spaces

I did not post anything here for a goodish while. The reason will be clear in a minute. But first, let me tell you a short story of my alternative (to Blogger) blogging.

In 2009, I joined InstantSpot only to see it dying a slow death within a year or so. I was never able to retrieve my posts. (Maybe it’s to the best.)

In 2010, I created a blog called just some words at Maneno; earlier this year, Maneno stopped hosting blogs and so I had to relocate to WordPress.

See the pattern emerging? Moving on: last month, I started this blog. I did a bit of research and chose Posterous as a no-nonsense blogging platform with great reputation. In September, without warning, Posterous reinvented itself as “Woo-hoo!” Posterous Spaces. One can see from the barrage of comments to their latest blog post (12 September 2011) that the users were not entirely happy.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Too bad Posterous people did just the opposite: wrecked the working system and now are busy rolling out “the first of a series of fixes”. Now we have the most ridiculous user interface which does not even have a “manage” button. I am telling you, if I saw this UI in August, I would never start blogging here.

I am not ready to walk away yet — why, I just got 250 business cards with this blog’s URL! Besides, this post was published OK, wasn’t it? Let’s see how it goes for a few more weeks. In the meantime, I backed up my posts and pages in case I have to relaunch this blog elsewhere.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

ION Block Rocker

Hooray, my new sound system has arrived! I went to collect it from the Correos today. I thought I managed to buy it for reasonably good price from Amazon UK — VAT-free and free delivery, because it was qualified for a free delivery in the UK... wait, that couldn’t be true? Maybe it ain’t. At the post office, they charged me €20 (twenty euro) before handing it over.

Still, I am a happy bunny now. Block Rocker comes with a microphone “to make announcements or sing” (nice try) but the 3.5 mm headphone jack to RCA adapter was not included. That is the only essential thing I really need, to connect it to my MP3 player. (Not iPod. I don’t have iPod. Block Rocker is advertised as a “Battery Powered Speaker System for iPod” but in truth you can plug in anything, provided that you have the right cable.) So I did cycle to the town in the afternoon to get the adapter. Check! Apparently, the batteries allow the system to blast at the full volume for 12 hours. We’ll see about that. I did not listen to “the full volume” properly yet. It’s getting too loud for our kitchen but maybe won’t be that loud for my, er, Zumba class when the time comes.

No more excuses: let’s rock!

ION Block Rocker Battery Powered Speaker System for iPod

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Zumba Fuerteventura on Facebook

People spend too much time on Facebook, don’t you think? Oh well, let them do that. After some hesitation, I decided to create a Facebook page, with exactly the same purpose as this blog. So... if you like this, please click on “like” button! Thank you.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Samba Body

From Fransini Giraldo, native of Colombia, comes Samba Body: a fitness program based on, surprise surprise, samba rhythms. Finally, easy-to-follow explanation of samba and axé steps for non-Brazilians!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

LinkedIn?

I joined three Zumba-related groups at LinkedIn. One is called ZIN-Zumba Instructors Network (as of today, 823 members):


Another is called Zumba Instructor Network (497 members):


The biggest group is called Zumba Community (1027) members):


Now I understand that the Zumba community is bigger than ZIN, so no surprises here. But what is the point of both ZIN-Zumba Instructors Network and simply Zumba Instructors Network? As far as I can see, both groups run discussions in parallel without much interaction with each other. For instance, what portable sound system is better. (That’s what I am looking into right now.) It is interesting to see different consensus opinions emerging on the same topic though.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Más de lo mismo

The long-awaited ZIN 34 has arrived — finally, not via England. I must say that my first impression of the previous ZIN offering was irrevocably damaged by that awful Pause, so I was really looking forward to this one.

Music-wise, is it OK but no more than that: from the opener El Amor, El Amor till closing El Amor (that’s right), not a single memorable tune. The DVD contains the one-on-one class with Maria Teresa Stone and live footage of (some of) the ZIN Day in London (8 May 2011) with Tanya Beardsley. Once again, no surprises here. Even the “surprise” appearance of Beto is not that surprising. There are couple of interesting salsa moves in Cali Ají, so I am sure I will watch this DVD again at least for that song.

Song List

  1. El Amor, El Amor — Merengue / Reggaeton
  2. Cali Ají — Salsa
  3. Caliente — Reggaeton
  4. Hey Pachuco! — Swing
  5. Mambo — Rumba Flamenca
  6. La Niña Fresa — Quebradita
  7. Mi Alma Se Muere — Hip-Hop
  8. Mi Vecina — Cumbia / Bachata / Reggaeton
  9. El Amor — Cumbia / Reggaeton

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Generic zumba, anyone?

Is there such a thing as “generic” zumba (as opposed to Zumba®)? And why not? People are happily practicing (copyright-free) yoga or dancing (non-trademarked) salsa. Even Pilates now is considered a generic term free for unrestricted use. Personally, I have aversion to trademarks, logos and their kin. So, in principle, I shouldn’t mind.

Except I do. As it is all too often the case, here is a point where “in principle” and “in practice” are two different things. For, when I hear that someone “is already giving Pilates classes here and thinks of starting zumba classes soon”, that spells for me “sorry buddy, this place is already taken”. As if Zumba is something that you just add on top of your existing Pilates or Spinning programme when there is enough demand. I can ascribe it to a generally relaxed attitude here: zumba, Zumba®, are you or are you not licensed to teach it — who cares?

The official Zumba website gives quite a list of “proper” and “improper” usage of the word Zumba. (How many ZIN™ members actually read it, I wonder in parentheses.) For example: ‘It is proper to say “I love the ZUMBA fitness program” and improper to say “I love ZUMBA”. (I am quite positive nobody ever would say “I love the ZUMBA fitness program”.) Or: ‘Do not change the spelling, insert hyphens or combine two words into one.’ Or: ‘“The California Zumba Center” is not allowed’. By the same token, “zumbafuerteventura” is most likely “improper”. Ah, well, who cares.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Joneeba!

Zumba is not the only dance fitness program in the world, you know. I received Joneeba! by Djoniba Mouflet today (which is a proof that Amazon delivers to Fuerteventura too). It was published in 2001 — incidentally, the very same year as Zumba was “established” (according to what is written on my Zumba vest).

OK, now I have to read it, and when I read it, I will probably write something about it. One thing that I found immediately appealing is written on page 47:
Joneeba footwear is quite inexpensive. As a matter of fact, I think my workout requires the cheapest footwear around: your bare feet!
I feel like I just saved £80!

Here’s the latest video from Djoniba Centre. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Aqua Zumba Vol. 4

AZ Vol. 4 arrived last week — redirected from my old UK address. I sent an email to Zumba Home Office to remind them that I have actually moved (and changed my address) some time ago.

Musically, it is not bad, although I find it too heavy on reggaeton — five tracks (out of nine) are either pure reggaeton or salsa/reggaeton or merengue/reggaeton. Rebolabum (axé) by Cecéu Muniz and Mama Canana (reggaeton) by El Vampiro are the highlights. I Like It Like That is marked as salsa but it is more like disco/cha-cha-cha hybrid. Either way, it is the worst song of the set.

Now the DVD. We are treated to the videos of the instructor dancing (very nicely) in front of the pool, where a group of ladies does some asynchronous moves. From time to time the camera dips underwater (just like in Blue Planet) to show us the lower part of the dancing body... which clearly does not belong to any of these ladies because it actually can move to the beat. Maybe it is the same instructor’s but I can’t say for sure. It would be more helpful if there was an alternate angle option or, even better, split screen showing simultaneously dry land vs (intended) underwater dance.

Song List

  1. Rebolabum — Axé
  2. Qué Tengo Que Hacer — Reggaeton
  3. La Negra Tiene Tumbao — Salsa / Reggaeton
  4. La Despedida — Merengue / Reggaeton
  5. Yo Como Que Te Conozco — Merengue
  6. La Morena — Merengue
  7. Te Digo Adiós — Reggaeton
  8. Miama Canana — Reggaeton
  9. I Like It Like That — Salsa

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Afternoon cycling

In the afternoon, I take my bike out and go to check another hotel. At least, this way I learn where is what in Corralejo and get a bit of exercise. The gyms look underused. And for a good reason. If you came to visit Fuerteventura, you must be mad to sit indoors and pump iron. You could do that in England, you know. Here you go to the beach, go for a swim, surfing, kite surfing, you name it. But if you live in Fuerteventura, and therefore non-resident of the hotel, you must be mad to pay €10 (yes, ten euro) for an hour in the gym.

And yet, what I hear is: “we have our own fitness instructors” or “there is no demand for this kind of thing”. What kind of thing?

I know, I know. UK has ridiculous number of Zumba instructors. For example: according to the Zumba website, as of today (6 August 2011), there are 190 Zumba instructors within 5 miles of Edinburgh, 199 within 5 miles of Liverpool, 283 within 5 miles of London and 286 within 5 miles of Glasgow. The supply simply must outstrip demand. But here in Fuerteventura, Zumba is almost unheard of. Therefore, no demand for Zumba whatsoever.

It is not all bad news. At the last place I visited, they gave me an email address and asked me to send my CV there. A CV! I took a look at my most up-to-date one. Not a single word there is relevant in any way, except for “born”. Better start to work on it then.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Welcome

Does the world need yet another blog? More specifically: do I need yet another blog? I was neglecting my other blogs recently. But here I am, busy setting up another one. For a change, this blog is to promote myself. For another change, I decided to try out a new blogging platform: Posterous. Too many changes, perhaps; something is bound to work in the end.