First Heart Rate Monitor Test

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I decided to order a heart rate monitor last week, and I wanted to share the results of my first heart rate monitor test.

I actually wanted to purchase a heart rate monitor about five years ago, but these things aren’t cheap. Not only that, but I remember that the options were limited in the store I visited. Plus, the store employee helping me told me some of the non-traditional options (watch-only at the time) weren’t that accurate. He said the ones that do their calculations using the pulse on your wrist aren’t as good as the chest straps. So, I decided to wait, and then I got distracted and forgot about it, and now we’re here.

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Calories Burned Estimation

I want to spend some more time researching heart rate monitors, but here’s some initial information you should know about using fitness tools, in general.

According to this article in the LA Times:

Arriving at a true count of how many calories you’re burning, i.e., your energy expenditure, is not as simple as 1-2-3. To get a direct count while, say, you’re ellipting along on an elliptical, you would have to be in a special room where precise measurements could be made of the heat released from your body. This method (based on the fact that burning calories releases heat) is possible but usually not practical.

What I’ve gathered from this and other similar articles (like this and this) is that fitness tools should be used for estimations only since they’re not 100% accurate. I’m cool with that.

My Heart Rate Monitor

I purchased the Polar FT4 from Amazon.com. It was $61.82 (down from 99.95 according to the site) and on prime shipping. After my Clarisonic debacle, I checked the Polar web site and found Amazon listed on their Where to Buy page for online, so I believe it’s legit this time. I did send an email to the customer service team to find out more.

At set-up, I was asked to enter:

  • Weight
  • Height
  • Date of Birth
  • Sex

I feel like the more information you enter, the more accurate your calculations, and this asked for more than other machines and tools I’ve seen.

My First Heart Rate Monitor Test

My First Heart Rate Monitor Test Results

So, my estimated calories do not actually match the photo above. Fail. Here are a couple reasons why:

  • I hit the wrong button. Yep, I ran my first test during a Zumba class I was actually teaching, so my focus wasn’t as much on my heart rate monitor as it was on my class. Just after class ended, a participant came up to chat. I quickly hit a button on the side thinking I’d stopped it. I guess I just hit a different view because I looked down a few minutes later to see the calories burned had jumped up. Doh!
  • After class, I sometimes lead my class in a free mini toning session. We do 3 toning songs and 1 stretch. I turned the heart rate monitor back on for this portion of the workout, which added more to the calories burned number. However, in doing a quick read through of articles on heart rate monitors, most said that you can’t really use them for calculating strength training / toning.

Luckily, I did happen to look at the estimated calories burned right after class ended. The number was 658. Not to shabby for just under one hour of a workout. Since this is my first test, and I haven’t tried calculating calories burned in any other way, I’m not sure how accurate (or inaccurate) this is. But, I still appreciate the estimation.

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I’m looking forward to continuing to experiment with and learn more about my heart rate monitor. Even though the studies say the calculations aren’t 100% accurate, I still think the information is helpful as a general guideline. My first key number I’m most interested in is the calories burned. But, I’m also interested in paying more attention to the heart rate information and learning how to use that information. Hopefully, I can find some good resources to learn more about how to best use my heart rate monitor. Any suggestions?

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Any heart rate monitor enthusiasts out there? What tips do you have for this newbie?

Totally 80s Dance Fitness Party

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Any 80′s fans out there? Last month, I hosted one of my favorite theme classes to date. I wanted to post that I recently hosted an 80s-themed Zumba class. But, seeing as how most classic 80s songs are pop, and Zumba classes should be at least 70% Latin, that wouldn’t be accurate. We only had one Latin song on the playlist, and that was a samba remix of Take On Me. So yes, I co-hosted an 80s themed night of dance fitness with my friend Ashley – two back-to-back classes. And we had SO much fun at our Totally 80s Dance Fitness Party!

Totally 80s Dance Fitness Party

I started class with the above outfit. I wanted to go with a Madonna lacy skirt look, but I couldn’t find the ruffle skirt I wanted to wear, so I opted for leggings and leg warmers and an off-the-shoulder shirt instead. My hair wasn’t exactly done in an 80s style, but I had reason behind it…

Totally 80s Dance Fitness Party

{Cool down outfit for the Totally 80s Dance Fitness Party – don’t worry, there are shorts under there!}

…I did a costume change! I realized late the night before class that a) I had a dress, necklace, and hair style that semi-resembled Madonna’s from her Like a Prayer video and b) I already had a cool down choreographed to the song. It was too perfect…and silly. But, I figured if I could make my class laugh a little, it was worth it. I was fortunate enough to have some guest instructors attend the class, so they were able to lead the song right before the cool down so I could run out quickly and change.

Madonna - Like a Prayer Outfit

{Madonna snapshot from her Like a Prayer video – photo found via Google images}

{Like a Prayer music video in case you want to watch}

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Here’s my full playlist from the Totally 80s Dance Fitness Party:

  1. Walk Like an Egyptian – The Bangles*
  2. Hey Mickey – Toni Basil
  3. Bad – Michael Jackson
  4. Take on Me (Batucada / Samba) – ZIN Volume 43
  5. Motownphilly – Boyz II Men
  6. Whoomp! There It Is – Tag Team
  7. Let’s Go Crazy – Prince*
  8. Pour Some Sugar On Me – Def Leopard
  9. Two of Hearts – Stacey Q*
  10. Jump – Kris Kross
  11. Wanna Be Startin’ Something – Michael Jackson
  12. Maniac (BOF Flashdance) – Michael Sembello*
  13. Footloose – Kenny Loggins
  14. Time of My Life – Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes (Dirty Dancing Soundtrack)
  15. Like a Prayer – Madonna

We didn’t have enough 80s songs to make a full playlist, so we used a couple 90s songs, too. And we had four new songs (see *) on the playlist with three that I choreographed. I wrapped up a couple just before class, so they were finished in the nick of time. Phew! I had a couple others that were almost done, but I guess I’ll have to save those for next time! Till then, I’ve been using Maniac and Let’s Go Crazy quite a bit in my other classes. Of the new songs, I think Maniac is especially fun. I took a lot of inspiration from the Maniac music video, so it’s like a dance fitness version of that. Wheeee!

Ashley did some fantastic new toning choreo to some of my favorite 80s songs in the second class (like I Think We’re Alone Now!), which made the tough workouts strangely and happily enjoyable. Gotta love that!

The Totally 80s Dance Fitness party was a blast! I had so much dancing with class and the guest instructors. The energy in the room was so high and lively. I definitely want to do another one of these one day!

Have you done a fun dance fitness theme class recently?

Zumba Convention 2014 Schedule is LIVE!

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To my fellow Zumba instructors, the schedule for Zumba Convention Orlando 2014 is LIVE!

Zumba Convention 2014 Schedule

They’re doing things a little differently this year. Firstly, the schedule is up, but registration doesn’t open until April 16th. So, you have time to research the sessions you want to attend.

Zumba Convention 2014 Schedule

Next, they’ve made several changes to the schedule:

  • They’ve changed the schedule structure. There are different numbers of sessions on each day. I like how there’s only one session on Sunday now – this will make travel and hotel check out so much easier!
  • They’ve introduced new sessions, but they’ve taken away a couple of the ones I’ve enjoyed in the past. Of the new sessions, I’m curious about many, including LatinTronika, A Tribute to the King/Queen of Pop (not sure who the queen is – Madonna?), Pop Madness, and Arabian Nights. I was sad to see Be the Inspiration by Steve Boedt gone, and I’d heard good things about the fusion class last year and was hoping to attend that one this year. Perhaps it’s on the schedule but under a different name? I’ll have to wait till the descriptions of each session are available.
  • I’m excited to see so many Latin Pop sessions – that’s definitely my favorite as far as the session closest to my teaching style and songs I tend to favor. I think there was only one Latin Pop session per convention for the last two years. Go Lindsey!
  • They’ve added more Jam and other non-flavor sessions.
  • They’ve added more master classes, including a set that happens later at night (roughly 7-8-ish).

I’m also tempted to do an instructor training on one of the days, if I can pull myself away from the sessions (which I really enjoy, so that will be difficult). The cool thing about convention is that you can do trainings with a ZES that you couldn’t’ as easily reach from your hometown. As much as you may like a particular ZES, it can be difficult to find the time and money to travel to do a training with them, especially if they’re very far from you.

Anywho, I love Zumba Convention! It’s my can’t-miss conference of the year because it’s so much fun, and I always learn so much to improve my classes. This will be my fourth year attending! Can’t wait!

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You can read about some of my past Zumba Convention experiences here:

I blogged multiple posts from each convention, but I’ve linked one above for each year that should be able to get you to the rest. Use the Next/Previous links at the end of each post to get to the others. I think I posted the most detailed descriptions of the class in last year’s posts.

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Who else is going to Zumba Convention this year?!?

New Years Zumba Glow Party

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My Halloween Zumba Glow Party was so much fun, almost all of my class participants excitedly asked me to throw another one. Of course, I was more than happy to do so!

I’d been wanting to throw a blacklight party for (literally) years, and it was great to see my idea was a winner. On the day after Halloween, I hit up the local holiday shops in search of black light deals. I bought 5 from the shops (50% off) and ordered one online (thank you, Amazon prime!). I’m seeing many glow parties in my future. I didn’t invest in all these lights for nothing!

Here are some photos from the January 2014 event:

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I have to thank my wonderful class assistant team and some volunteers for coming early to help me set-up. These types of parties are not easy! Though, they are worth it.

With my experience from the first party and a new light configuration, I think we were able to get the room extra glowing! We also added a fabulous “ZUMBA” feature on one wall, and this is just the beginning. I’m hoping to build on my resources bit by bit each year. I already have ideas for ways to spice up my next party! Speaking of which, people asked me to do the next one around Halloween again! Looks like the next party is tentatively scheduled for October.

Oh, and one of my favorite things about a glow party is how dark the room is. I love telling my class, “If you’ve ever wanted to dance like no one’s watching, then now is your opportunity. Because pretty much…no one can actually see you in these lights!” I think it makes people work extra hard. Woohoo! Fun and effective! Glow on!

Zumba Glow Party {October 2013}

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Last week, I finally got to do something at my Zumba class that I’ve always wanted to do – a glow party!

I’m planning to do a how-to post (and maybe video!) with some tips and tricks since I didn’t find a lot of info out there when I was researching how to set up mine, and I’d love to help out some fellow fitness instructors if I can. But, for now, here are some photos from my party…

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{Group shot}

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{Class in action}

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{Photo from my friend Chloe}

I busted out the wings I bought for my Zumba Convention costume. Turns out, those things glow under a black light, too! I didn’t wear them for the whole class. I waited till we were doing a song where the class faces each wall, and they weren’t looking to pop them on. And then I kept them on for one song – Let Me Think About It.

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{Class enjoying the glow party}

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{What I saw from the stage – I took this photo from the front-side of the room}

The glow party was super fun, and I’ve already had requests from most of the people in attendance to do another soon! Woohoo!

On Friday, I called all the Halloween shops in town in search of backlights. I decided to hit up the one that had the most in stock – 5 18-inch black lights – and I bought them all at half off. I’m also going to test one out that I ordered from Amazon, and I’ll be sure to include my recommendation on which I think are the best.

If you’re thinking of doing a glow party for your class, now is the time to stock up! Most Halloween shops put them 50% off after Halloween!

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In other Zumba news, I’ve been trying to work up the courage to record some of my choreography to share with you guys. I’ve been working on a lot of fun songs lately!

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Thanks for stopping by!

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!

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