Zumba Convention 2013 {Day 4} – Hip to Strip and Latin Pop

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Sunday brought the last day of Zumba Convention 2013. It was time to start packing up and thinking about what we had to do back in real life. Well, almost…

Check out my other Zumba Convention 2013 – Orlando, FL posts here:

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{One of my favorite quotes – get the whole thing here}

But, we had a few more hours of fun to enjoy first…

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My first session of Day 4 was Hip to Strip where the tagline is, “Dancing naughty is good for the body.” Well then! I knew something fun was ahead when presenter Ann Saldi kicked things off with that one liner! Ann was a wonderful presenter – funny, engaging, and great at instructing. She had a certain spunk that was simply contagious and put the whole room at ease to feel confident in their dancing skills, as well as, in themselves. This was definitely the kind of class where dancing like no one’s watching is encouraged.

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We learned some basics (history along with some moves) at the beginning and then got to the main dancing pretty quickly. The format of the class was simple. Ann broke down a song, eight count by eight count, slowly building as we went. Once we had all the components down, we did the song in its entirety as a “dress rehearsal.” Then, we did the song one more time as the real deal. Then, we moved onto the next song. We did this for four songs, including Blurred Lines and Burlesque, and then at the end, we ran through all of the songs in one big go. It was so fun, and Ann even pulled all the guys in the class (there were about eight!) on the stage for Blurred Lines. I can’t believe I waited three years to do this session!

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Beto made a guest appearance near the end of class and taught us a few steps to Britney Spears’s song, Toxic. Of course everyone went crazy rushing the stage and taking photos left and right.

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{me, Gina, Kass, Sarah}

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{another inspirational quote – “If you can dream it, you can do it.” ~Walt Disney}

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My second and last session of the day (and of convention!) was a favorite from last year – Latin Pop with Lindsey Taylor!

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I’ve been searching for my Zumba style for awhile, and I really connected with Latin Pop last year. The songs are upbeat, fun, sassy, and playful. They’re songs you may or may not have heard on the radio by well-known artists like J. Lo, Pitbull, and Enrique. I also really liked Lindsey’s instructing and dancing style, along with her choreography, so I really enjoyed this session all around.

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Lindsey started the class with a welcome and a warm up. Then, she (and her crew) broke down several Latin Pop basic moves, and then put it all together with a lively master class. Even though I was feeling pretty tired by the last day of convention, Lindsey and the boys and the music inspired me to move. Plus, knowing this was the last session meant I could put every last ounce of energy I had into my dancing.

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Since we were driving eight hours back home immediately after the session, I hadn’t planned on getting a photo with the Latin Pop team, even though I really wanted one. But, after changing for the road trip, I passed the room one last time and realized the line had only about five people left in it. Plus, Sarah wanted some coffee before we left, meaning we had about 10-15 minutes before it was time to go. I decided I’d rather have a photo with Lindsey and the boys than coffee, so I went back into the conference room to stand in line. I’m so glad I did.

After leaving the hotel, Sarah and I made the long trip back to Charlotte, getting back into town right around an early 1:45am. Phew! We may have to consider doing the beach trip either after convention next year…or before and after! Hmm…now, that sounds like a plan!

I’m so thankful to have been able to enjoy Zumba Convention for another year, and I’m hoping to make it to many more!

Zumba Convention 2013 {Day 3} – Master Class, Rock ‘N Roll Revolution, and Bollywood & Bhangra

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Day 3 (Saturday) of convention was my longest day with a master class in the morning, two sessions, and the ZIN Soiree later that night.

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I had signed up for the master class with George Iu, but after hearing about his trouble with his visa (the day before), I wondered if Eric, who had stepped in for the Hip Hop session, would also be leading the master class. My guess was correct. Luckily for me, I really liked Eric’s teaching and dancing style, so even though I was disappointed I wouldn’t be dancing with George, I was happy to see what Eric had in store for us.

Eric did a great job. So good, I thought he was a ZES and only learned later that he’s a Zumba Jammer (ZJ). He led the class with his adorable son and beautiful daughter, plus the help of a few other ZJs. I had a blast. I loved all the songs and took several notes for choreo inspiration to bring back home. As for George, he got to lead a couple songs including a fun merengue mix of In Da Club that I’ve since done in my classes. Love it!

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I stayed after class for a photo op and learned that Eric is Filipino! I knew there was a reason I liked him!

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My first session of the day was Rock ‘N Roll Revolution. Shemane (who is Ted Nugent’s wife) and her crew broke down some rock ‘n roll inspired moves and even showed how the basic Zumba moves can be incorporated into rock ‘n roll songs. I thought it was really interesting to see that Zumba moves could be incorporated into totally non-Latin songs. Shemane and the girls also broke down choreo for three rock songs and we had a fun master class with those songs plus many others. Those girls were getting it! They had so much energy, and I had a great time dancing with them.

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My last session of the day is one of my all-time favorites – Bollywood & Bhangra. This was my third year in a row doing this session, and I wasn’t let down. I didn’t think it was possible, but I loved the session even more after doing it for a third time.

We learned a little history for both dance styles – Bollywood and Bhangra. One of my favorite parts of the session was how Dr. B showed us how to add Bollywood flair to basic dance moves, plus I also enjoyed learning some Bollywood hand positions. She taught those the last two years, too, but you learn so much at convention, it’s hard to retain it all. That’s one of the reasons I like to repeat sessions – for the refreshers!

And I think most of you know I took a bhangra dance class a couple years ago, so you probably already know that I was also a big fan of the bhangra portion of the class. I enjoy seeing how they break down the basic bhangra step, which is a step that is easy yet complicated at the same time. They break it down magically so everyone in the room gets it instantaneously. I’m always impressed. The other thing they do to impress me is break out a bhangra-fied hip hop song during the master class. Every year, it’s something new, and something fun.

The master class was full of songs I’d never heard before. I felt like I was transported to another world. The class was high energy and high intensity. It kicked my butt!

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As you can probably tell, the Bollywood & Bhangra session is one I truly enjoy, which is why I was so sad when they announced at the end of class that this would be their last year presenting at convention. What?! Say it ain’t so!

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The emotion in the room was strong, but everyone was very supportive. I’m going to miss these guys next year for sure!

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{One last photo at their very last session of Zumba Convention}

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Sarah and I split a pizza by the pool and enjoyed a couple cool beverages before heading up to the room to get ready for the ZIN Soiree.

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The theme was ZIN Summer Night’s Dream. I was super busy right up to convention, so I threw my outfit together last minute. I was a Zumba fairy. Not the most unique idea, but I got to wear sneakers and an adult tutu, so I’ll call that a win. We enjoyed music from a DJ before a band took over. Mostly, I enjoyed seeing all the unique costumes all around. I may have to step things up next year!

Next time – Day 4 of Zumba Convention!

Zumba Convention 2013 {Day 2} – Brazilian Carnival & Hip Hop

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The vibrant colors of pink, red, green, and purple pop against the long trail of white. Neons and other bright colors bounce step by step as thousands of Zumba instructors pass between the Hilton and Peabody hotels in Orlando, FL. As if the rainbow of fun workout gear isn’t enough, the air is practically electrified with the positive energy emanating from the cheerful group. This is the scene for four days straight every year at Zumba Convention. A covered pathway (that I’ve nicknamed the “white mile” because of the white floor, safety rails, columns, and cover….and because it’s almost a mile in distance) stretches between the three main buildings for the ZCon events: the two aforementioned hotels and the Convention Center, which sits conveniently in between both. The walk isn’t short, but in the Florida heat and with the daily Florida rain storms, I’m thankful for the covered path to get from one event to another so you get some relief from the heat and protection from the rain.

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This year, ZCon added inspiring quotes related to the conferences theme, “Dreams”, throughout the white mile. Pictured above is one of my favorite quote snippets: “Explore. Dream. Discover.” by Mark Twain.

Here’s the full quote that I love so much:

“Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

― Mark Twain

As a big fan of quotes, I loved seeing the positive messages as I walked from one session to another.

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{Sea of neon, slashed tops, mesh clothing, crazy patterns – Zumba lovers from all around the world!}

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My first session of Day 2 of my 2013 Zumba Convention experience was a repeat from last year – Brazilian Carnival.

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These ladies really helped me get my samba down last time, and this year, I wanted to re-learn how they broke it down (to help teach my participants) and pay better attention to the other Brazilian dance styles they review. I really wanted to learn some new moves to add some more diverse International rhythms to my Zumba classes. Plus, I’d love to have more samba songs in addition to more of the other styles on my playlist.

We learned a few moves of four different styles of Brazilian dance before doing a master class using the moves we had just broken down. The class was super high energy and a total blast!

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Almost every session ends with cameras – those taking photos of the playlist, contact info, or notes…

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…and cameras to get a quick photo with the session presenters. Here I am with the beautiful presenters of Brazilian Carnival.

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The ladies of the Brazilian Carnival gave each of us a gift this year – a small ribbon they brought from Brazil. I didn’t 100% hear what they said about the ribbon, but I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to tie it around your wrist, and they say when the ribbon falls off, your dreams will come true. Update: Actually, a quick google search found more info – the ribbon is called a Bahia Band! Click here for the history of these Bahia Bands.

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After the morning session, I headed back to the hotel for a quick lunch and then back to the Peabody for my afternoon session.

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I did Hip Hop: The Zumba Remix – another repeat from last year.

Those of you who know me well may know that I’m a big fan of hip hop…more so the music than the dancing. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be a great hip hop dancer, but it’s much easier to enjoy the music – that doesn’t require practice. I’ve been on the lookout for an adult hip hop class that fits with my schedule for the last couple years, but I haven’t found anything…yet.

I really could use lessons. Of all the sessions, Hip Hop may strike the most fear in me. I’m not the fastest at learning choreo, and learning fast-changing moves eight-count after eight-count does not come naturally to me. I much prefer the repetitive moves in the traditional Zumba song format (the same move for the verse, chorus, etc.). Luckily, the Zumba Conference provides an environment that is naturally low (or even no?) judgement. It’s not a competition. We’re all there to learn and enjoy the sessions and the presenters’ various styles, lessons, and techniques.

Speaking of ZESes, one of my favorites, George Iu (who usually co-teaches the Hip Hop session) almost didn’t make it to convention. It was so tight, they actually had to find a replacement for him – Eric Aglia. George got to present a couple songs, but he had to pass his hip hop torch to Eric. Though I missed seeing more of George, they found a great co-teacher for the class. I thought Eric did a great job stepping up into the big shoes he had to fill. Michael was his usual, fabulous self. He even did one whole song in heels! I don’t know how he did that – there’s no way I could dance in heels like that!

In this session, we learned some basic moves for a three different hip hop styles: Old Skool, Girlie, and Music Video. And then we did a master class with a warm-up, simple choreo (Zumba format songs) and then more choreographed songs. Not gonna lie, I didn’t get all the steps down, but I did have fun trying!

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I waited in the long photo line to get a picture with all three of presenters.

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{Michael, George, me, Eric}

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After the sessions were done for the day, Sarah and I hit up the Zumba shop. I hadn’t planned to buy any new Zumba wear, but I found some cute stuff and bought some anyways. Who’s not surprised?

I pretty much reserve most, if not all, of my Zumbawear shopping to ZCon because it’s the only time you can try things on before you buy them and see the materials, etc. in person. Plus, you guys know I like putting outfits together. Besides new choreo ideas, I love bringing back new clothes from convention! I remember before I was a Zumba instructor how I loved seeing the new workout wear the instructors would sport in class during the weeks after ZCon. Now, that’s me!

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After shopping, we headed back to the room to get ready for a dinner out! More on our eating adventure next time!

Zumba Convention 2013 {Day 1} – Burlesque & Fitness Concert

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Every year, I think I’ll be able to blog about Zumba Convention while I’m actually at ZCon, but the conference is so jam-packed, I never quite seem to have the time. I’m too busy dancing, hanging with friends, making new friends, and enjoying the moment…well, all the moments. Zumba Convention is hands down one of my favorite things to do every year, so I really try to make the most of it while I’m there. So, it’s a bit later than I wanted, but here we go with my first ZCon post for 2013…

After our short beach adventure, my friend Sarah and I took a (pretty) quick two hour drive into Orlando, FL to check into our hotel. A quick change later, and we were headed off for our respective first events. We missed the kick-off, but not our first sessions.

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I started things off with Gina Grant’s Burlesque. The format of the dances we learned were a bit different than traditional Zumba dances. Instead of lots of repetitive moves, we learned (I believe) four songs that were more routines, with various 8 counts broken down and then strung together. The first song was even choreographed with a chair, which was different and fun. The songs included Burlesque and Fever. The dances were flirty and girly and had some cute moves I may try to work into some Zumba songs in the future.

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Some of you guys have been asking for workout outfits, so I’ve been trying to post them on Instagram. Does that work or do you prefer to see them here on the blog? Anywho, here’s my outfit for Burlesque – harem dance pants, high tops, and a studded bra top.

Oh, and don’t mind that shopping bag in the background. I may or may not have gone ahead and done some shopping on day 1. What? The clothes sell out like hot cakes! You gotta get in there early to get what you want! There’s still one top I didn’t pounce on that sold out that I’m considering getting from zumba.com. Hmm…

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Sarah and I had dinner at the pool and then unpacked and changed for the Zumba Fitness Concert.

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The Fitness Concert is just like what it sounds like. Imagine a huge concert with the fancy lights and crazy sound systems and thousands of people all around, except instead of the people just standing there or doing random dances, they’re all moving in unison, doing the same dance moves, following instructors leading the crowd from a stage. Well, at least that’s what usually happens.

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For some reason, this year they decided to section off almost 1/4-1/3 of the room we usually use with large curtains so we were all crowded into a smaller space. The result? The areas in the back were too crowded for people to move, so they couldn’t really get into the dancing. We got there kind of late, so we started out near the back, but as some people trickled out, we were able to move up so we could do some dancing.

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I hope they give us more space next year, though. A girl needs room to move!

A mixture of different ZESes, plus Beto (the founder of Zumba for any non-Zumba readers out there) and celebrities like Sean Paul and Claudia Leitte, took turns leading different songs. There were also plenty of costume changes, and I loved seeing the different outfits. The energy level was super high, and I still had a good time, even if we didn’t really get to dance as much as we wanted. I have to admit, I loved the super loud music and how the bass tickled my nose! You’ll never get speakers that loud in a regular Zumba class!

Next time – Day 2 including Brazilian Carnival and Hip Hop!

ZCon 2013!

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This time next week, I’ll be…asleep. Okay, but soon thereafter, I’ll be headed to Zumba Convention 2013!!! I’m so excited!

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I’m going with my good friend Sarah, and we’re going to make a most-awesome road trip out of it. We’re even stopping at the beach on the way there.

Here’s a recap from 2011 (Day #4 – has links to the other days): http://thechiclife.com/2011/07/zumba-convention-2011-day-4-bollywood-african-impromptu-dancing.html

And, here’s a recap from last year (part 1 of 2): http://thechiclife.com/2012/08/zumba-convention-2012-part-12.html

Do you guys want to see photos/videos from anything in particular? The convention is usually so crazy-busy, I find myself rushing from one thing to another, but I’m hoping to get a little more in the way of photos and videos this year.

Anyone else going? :)

Insta-Chic {8/4/13}

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You guys know I love to cut shirts.

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I like making little tweaks to stretchy Zumba tank tops and turning unisex t-shirts into loose-fitting tank tops and halter tops.

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So, every once in awhile, I host a t-shirt cutting workshop for my Zumba class where we go over some of the basics. I share my tips and tricks and help them cut some practice tops. It’s always such a fun time, and I love seeing everyone’s creations – that night and after.

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I went out for some post-Zumba and post-t-shirt-cutting-workshop eats at Chloe’s recommendation – Bistro 88. I’ve been looking for a favorite Chinese restaurant in Charlotte, and this may be the one. I’d been here one time before, but I thought it was good but not a stand-out. This time, Chloe told us about the “secret menu” – the Cantonese one. They only give you this menu if you ask for it. We all ordered off the Cantonese menu. I got the cabbage with chicken, which was boneless chicken with baby bok choy in a light white sauce (I also saw pieces of fresh ginger in the mix). Chloe got the Beef Chow Fan (which is also on the regular menu) and shared a bite. Those noodles could easily be addicting. The flavor was wonderful, and I def recommend trying it if you visit.

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Here’s one of my yummy lunches from last week by the Roots food truck – pulled pork with pickled veggies and pasta salad. So fresh, so good! It’s so nice there are restaurants and food trucks in town that support local farmers.

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Not sure if you follow me on Instagram, but I bought a tiny bamboo plant to cheer up my office desk and posted about it on my account awhile back. I named her Lucy, and my desk-mate liked my plant so much, she got one, too! Her plant’s name is Ethel. Yup, Lucy and Ethel.

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Guess what showed up in my email inbox the other day? My Zumba Convention 2013 tickets!!! I’m so pumped. This will be my third year attending Zumba Convention, and it’s quickly become one of my favorite things to do every year. I’m about a week and half away. Can’t wait!

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And I made chili today for some friends and was reminded of why I try to read ingredients lists. My chili calls for three types of beans, and I found pretty clean versions of all but one. Most of the beans had three ingredients – beans, water, salt. But one of the cans had beans, water, salt, PLUS calcium chloride and calcium disodium edta. Now, I’m not going to freak out over these added ingredients, nor will I refuse to eat them, but I do try to avoid them whenever possible. I mean, if I were seasoning the chili, I wouldn’t be like, “Okay, I’ll add one tablespoon of chili powder and 2 teaspoons calcium chloride.” This is where I try to stick to the Food Rules by Michael Pollan.

I tried researching those last two added ingredients online quickly. There were different stances on calcium chloride – some calling it safe and others saying it has negative side effects. But, one quick hit was that calcium disodium edta is on the Whole Foods list of unacceptable ingredients in food. Pollan’s logic is still enough for me to try to avoid both.

How do you feel about added ingredients in your foods? Do you have a hard and fast rule to not eat them, do you try to avoid them when possible, or do you not care about eating/drinking them?

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