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Role MOdels: Richard Martinez and Dar Reid, Zumba Instructors

As students, we love inspiring teachers! As The MOde Fitness, we love sharing their insights with you. So, we’re pinching ourselves to be able to bring you an in-depth interview with two amazing instructors! Neither needs an introduction, but here’s a quick bio:

Richard Martinez: A decade or so ago, Richard Martinez was obese for most of his life. At the age of 39 he decided to live a healthier lifestyle. This dynamo has been on Dr. OZ, on several news media outlets and is one of the most sought after Zumba Instructors (and an AFAA-certified group fitness instructor) in NYC—as in, packed out classes at the Ailey Extension and Equinox. And, yes, he still holds a day job as a Senior Records Manager for a law firm.

Dar Reid: From CrossFit to TRX to CardioKick, Reid, Senior Health and Wellness Director, Coffman YMCA, Springboro, Ohio—is a fitness Renaissance chick. She launched her own Website, DARSFITNESS, where she posted Fitness Video’s from Zumba, CardioKick, Strength Conditioning and Nutrition. Reid is also a certified personal trainer, group exercise instructor and a trainer for the YMCA of the USA for Group Exercise.

Read on for their insider secrets, tips, tricks and PASSION for Zumba.

The MOde Fitness: How did you both get into Zumba?

Dar: When Zumba started Doug and Joan (founders of The Studio Fitness in Vandalia, Ohio) taught at another Y in my association. I honestly was against it for a very long time even though they were having a great success with it at another branch. After some time I finally gave in and decided to offer it and it was a instant hit and still is. This led me to go get my license. I did not teach at all and honestly looked at it as another license to have just in case I needed to sub. After doing this a couple of times I started to like it and folks wanted more. I then found myself helping other instructors with their classes and choreography just like I do with other types of classes such as CardioKick, yoga, TRX, HIIT and cycle to name a few with my instructors. After a while I started posting videos which then in turn turned into DARSFITNESS. At that time, it was one of the very few avenues to help instructors with choreography. Diane Felkenes , another awesome instructor and I started doing Master Classes and Choreography Jams because instructors were demanding them back then. I did DARSFITNESS for several years. Zumba evolved and YouTube became very popular with videos over the past few years so I have discontinued DARSFITNESS but still go where I am needed and help those who want it. J

Richard: The infomercial was key. I ordered the DVD’s, loved the music and felt comfortable with the moves. Did my research and noticed that Tanya Beardsley (co-host of the 2008 DVD release) was the ZES (Zumba Education Specialist) located in NY. I signed up for the license workshop. Then took my first class to see how comfortable I would feel in a live class setting. The rest is history.

MOde: What’s your best advice for new students?

Dar: Let the music move you. LISTEN to it and LET IT MOVE YOU. Stop thinking so hard and let the music guide you. But, don’t freestyle unless it’s part of the song—it’s not respectful to the teacher or fellow students.

Richard: My tip is to forget about everyone else around you. Everyone interprets and moves different to music and that is ok. There is no wrong way of doing things. Two people can do the exact same move and it will look completely different depending on the person executing the movement. In addition, any student should be doing other work outs in addition to Zumba in order to capitalize on their weight loss/fit/healthier lifestyle. Muscle training is key and provides a nice balance to a student who is searching for a healthier lifestyle.

MOde: What about new instructors? What’s the key to prepping for auditions and landing jobs?

Dar: Start by getting a group exercise certification and your Zumba License. If you are truly new (no teaching experience at all) you should visit other instructors’ classes. See if there is a network of instructors around you that you can refer to. Do the necessary trainings for Zumba. B2 and Pro Skills I think they are. Become a part of ZIN (Zumba Instructor Network) so if truly a new instructor you have real Zumba stuff to at least learn and follow. Practice in front of a mirror. Practice “mirroring”. Practice cueing. Practice not in front of mirror because you won’t always have it. Once you do all of this try co-teaching with one of your network contacts or whomever you have connected with. Ask for feedback from someone who will give it to you regardless of good or bad and then help you fix the bad if needed.

When I’m hiring, I want to see a salsa, cumbia and merengue and one of the other rhythms they prefer. AND I typically ask for these to be authentic and not Hip Hoppy or Reggaton-ish. I also like to have them teach with me to see how they interact with the students.

Richard: I did my homework. I practiced, practiced, practiced…and when I thought I was done… I practiced some more. I also became AFAA Group Instructor Certified as well as CPR / AED certified before requesting an interview or audition. It is important to understand the body mechanics before stepping into any class as a fitness instructor. This also shows the potential employers that you are serious about your craft. Created several playlists so that I can have music and choreography to fall back on while creating choreography for future classes. In terms of Equinox, I auditioned and was offered several permanent classes on the schedule. In terms of The Ailey Extension, I interviewed with the Director. She had done her due diligence on me prior to the interview. Treat fitness jobs with the same attitude as any job. And, be prepared for some adrenaline highs! My first audition was like a scene from “Flashdance—there was a roomful of people auditioning along with most of the Group Fitness Managers of different locations responsible for hiring new instructors and I had about 3.5 minutes to dazzle them.”

MOde: What’s your favorite song or favorite rhythms to dance to? What could you pass on?

Dar: Hardest is Tango--I don’t like it unless it’s a slow sexy tango. Fast Samba can be difficult for me too at the start. Piecing together a Bhangra is sometimes hard but achievable. My favorite is Salsa, Merengue that are authentic as well as Urban or Cumbia, Bachata and some Soca.

Richard: My current favorite songs are La Malanga (salsa) and Shekini (African). My favorite rythyms are Salsa, Merengue, Cumbia, Reggaeton, Bachata, Soca, African, Ragga and Samba. My least favorite is the Tango rhythm.

MOde: Did you ever have a crisis of confidence teaching?

Dar: YES, every time I get up in front of a class I have a mini crisis. Its good though…keeps me on my toes and helps me put all that crisis into the desire to do my best. (what is funny is I just read what Richard wrote and we both said “keeps me on my toes”). That is awesome. J

Richard: I have been teaching for about 9 years. I am ALWAYS nervous right before class. Once the music starts my focus is not on me. It is on my students. My goal is always to give the class a wonderful experience while I kick their butts. It’s good to be nervous. It keeps you on your toes.

MOde: What’s in your gym bag? Go-to snacks? Favorite footwear?

Dar: I don’t have a bag just for Zumba. I typically have equal ratio of carb:protein. I also drink a BCAA before and during teaching. My shoes are usually Nike.

Richard: Nike shoes for me. In my bag is always a change of clothes, towel, water, snacks (power bar, nuts, etc.). Not usually Zumba gear--- the Zumba gear for women is excellent with a variety of styles and color. Men’s collection… not so much... So I try to wear clothes that are reflective of my personality and style.

MOde: What’s your favorite thing to do in Cincinnati?

Dar: Cincy has a lot of things to do and whenever I can go and enjoy the culture of the it I do. I really like exploring restaurants in Cincy. I have come across some really good ones.

Richard:Visit with friends.

Register here for your chance to dance with these two powerhouses!!!!!!! (UPDATE: The event is sold out. If you want to catch Dar and Richard, try the Coffman Family YMCA in Springboro for Dar or head to The Ailey Extension, West Side YMCA or Equinox Gyms in NYC for Richard. If you don't live in NYC or Ohio, follow them on Facebook for the master class schedule, or just be jealous. We can handle it :-)

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