ZIN Day Canada 2012

The time has come.

It’s taken me over a week, but I’m finally writing about my trip to ZIN (Zumba Instructor Network) Day in Toronto a week or so ago.  I did share a few photos with you last week but now I’ll give to a better overview of the happs that went down. 😉

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As most of you know, I road-tripped to T.O. with four other Zumba instructors to attend ZIN Day.  Yes we are crazy, but we lived to tell the tale!  The truth is I already had made plans for two other trips this summer before I found out about ZIN Day and couldn’t afford another place ticket so if I hadn’t been able to road trip-it I wouldn’t have been able to go.  For those of you wondering, from my house to Toronto is approximately a 20 hour drive (calculating in stops along the way).

We left the valley around 4pm Friday afternoon and landed in Toronto around lunch time.  Three of us were on no sleep (cue Seinfeld moment)….

[youtube_sc url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfd4dhQN5is”]

and this is where the story gets interesting.  This year, Zumba Head Office decided to add a new element to ZIN Days called ZIN Crews.  Groups of ZIN were to get together, create a Zumba routine and submit their crew online and 10 would be chosen to go on stage and teach their routine to everyone in attendance.  The Nova Scotia Instructors has submitted their names to be one of these crews (I had opted out and volunteered to take photos).

Friday (back that the start of the road trip) we found out that Team Nova Scotia has been chosen to go on stage.

Small problem – there was still no song chosen and no routine created.  The instructors are from all over the province so many hadn’t even met in person, and a bunch of them wouldn’t even be getting to Toronto until Saturday afternoon.  Reminder – ZIN Day was to be on Sunday.  Most of these other crews had been practicing for well, a month.  So I tell them they better figure out what they are doing ‘cuz they’ve got some serious practising to do before Sunday!  At which point I’m informed that my request to take photos was denied, “Suzi you’re in the crew.”

Oh Dear.

Back to Toronto.  Since only 1/2 of the “crew” was in Toronto we headed over to the Eaton Centre for some food and shopping (since if we had stayed in the hotel we likely would have all been asleep in a matter of minutes and we still had a heck of a lot of stuff to do).  I might mention, when you’ve been up for 30-some hours, the day goes by very slowly.  I’d look at my watch thinking it must be 7 or 9 pm and it would be like 1:12 in the afternoon.  It was very disorienting.

After we shopped and ate – I didn’t buy anything but I REALLY wanted this purple bag

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we headed back to the hotel and started working on our routine.  The rest of the peeps had just landed and headed out to get something to eat so we told them to meet us at 6pm so we could get everything figured out.  We put the song we ultimately chose on repeat in the hotel room, ideas were tossed out by everyone and while Katie and Josie went to work making our team shirts

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I kept trying to piece the routine together (with help and ideas from all the others).  By 6pm we had it pretty much all figured out, met up with the other three and went to look for somewhere to practise.

Enter the park and a random gazebo.

I may remind you it is Saturday evening, around 7pm.  There were some drunk peeps hanging around.  There had been a dog fair nearby and afterwards lots of people brought their dogs to the park.  There was just in general a fair amount of people hanging around wondering what the hack we were doing.

We practised and practised for probably 1 1/2 or 2 hours until we were satisfied that we wouldn’t make total fools of ourselves on stage.  Since we knew we wouldn’t get any video of us actually on stage, Angie took this video of us in the park.  Please remember we are all very tired and very hungry at this point…

After “practise” we went for pizza then hit the hay to get some rest for Sunday.

The first order of the day Sunday was filming ZIN 41.  Every other month Zumba sends all ZIN a DVD with choreography on it.  On the DVD there is a live class and a one-on-one class and we were going to be in the live filming for an upcoming ZIN 🙂  My outfit of choice

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We checked out and took the short-ish (it seemed a lot longer on the way back) walk down to Kool Haus where the event was being held

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I forgot to bring my sunglasses :/

Once inside I checked my bag/phone so I have no photos from the live taping but it was super fun!  Sadly, there was no room for me and my giant wingspan so if I actually am visible in the DVD I’m sure I’ll look like a weirdo with my arms all tucked in like a flamingo.  Aw well.

After the live taping I attempted to go to the Zumba Wear Shop

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um yeah.  It was too crazy for me so I got the heck out of there!

There were a few info sessions with Zumba Head Office

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And then it was time for the Crews.  We were slotted to be crew 9 out of 10.  Giving us (or at least me) lots of time to worry/get nervous.

Here is the whole crew all dressed in our outfits

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For those of you not from around here, blue and white are obviously our provincial colours, and Susan in the front is rockin’ some seriously fab Nova Scotian Tartan 😉

And then we went on…..in front of over 550 other instructors….

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Somehow, I am never involved with anything that is mishap free.

The song we chose was just over 4 minutes long.  During those 4 minutes I managed to have 3 or 4 mishaps.

#1 – One of the previous groups must have had bells sewn on their outfits.  One of these bells fell off and was on the stage unnoticed.  Until I stepped on it.  I thought I stepped on Josie’s foot so quickly lifted my foot and shot said bell directly under her lifted foot which nearly caused her to fall.

#2 – Each of us wore a “snap bracelet” that was covered in Nova Scotian Tartan.  My crazy spider arms flail too much and sent my bracelet flying across the floor.  I decide to ignore the bracelet and continue with the routine

#3 – I nearly step on the rogue bracelet and then decide I need to pick it up and put it in my pocket.

#4 – I decide I don’t like having it in my pocket and put it back on my wrist.  Where it falls off AGAIN.  This time I have enough sense to pick it up and toss it off stage, in doing so forget where we are in the routine and mess up.  Doh.

Mishaps or not – we finished!

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Despite the fact that the announcer said, “Team Nova Scotia – bringing us some country!!!!”  It wasn’t country.  It was a celtic song.  Sheesh.

Afterwards we had a number of people come and tell us how much they liked our routine (there were even some sweet souls that said they liked our routine the best!), which made us happy, especially since 24 hours earlier we still didn’t have a routine at all!

We finished off the day with a Broadway Lights session with the fabulous Tamara Stoke-Said and Amanda Grant

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And Columbian Connection with Jaime Farfan.  Sadly I don’t have any photos from the last session as I was too involved in doing it to take photos, but it was the same kind of session he did at convention last year so just imagine this photo is from Toronto 😉


Once all the excitement was over I shot this quick video

[youtube_sc url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V31tdKS6E90″]

Then we started the L-O-N-G trip home.  I got home Monday afternoon around 4.  From the time I got up Thursday to the time I got home Monday I had slept a collective 10 hours, and done 10 hours of exercise.  Fro them time I got home Monday, until 11am Tuesday I had slept 16 hours.

I was a tired girl.

Would I do it again?  Heck yeah!  But give me a few more weeks to forget about how tired it made me!

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Homemade Granola Bars

If there is one thing I like it’s granola.  Well no that’s not true, if I was just going to choose one food to like it would probably be pizza but, I do really like granola!  However, I’m not a fan of the store-bought kind, and I’m really not a fan of store-bought granola bars.  So what is a girl to do?  Make her own of course!  I’ve been perfecting my recipe for quite a while now and I think I’ve finally got it right where I want it! 😉

The thing I like best about this recipe is you can leave it in chunks (like granola bars) or you can crumble it and eat it like regular granola.  I tend to break it into chunks and then use the pieces that fall apart as granola so you get the best of both worlds.

Homemade Granola Bars
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1½ cups of assorted nuts (unsalted)
  • ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup of sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup of coconut (I use sweetened, but if you are worried about sugar you can use unsweetened)
  • ¼ cup of flax seed (I use the whole shelled flax but regular flax will work too)
  • ½ cup of honey
  • ¼ of pure maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Combine oats, nuts, and seeds in a bowl then spread evenly over two ungreased baking sheets.
  3. Bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes until toasted stirring at the halfway mark to prevent burning.
  4. Remove sheets from oven and allow to cool slightly.
  5. Lower oven to 300 degrees.
  6. Meanwhile, combine honey, maple syrup, brown sugar, coconut oil, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan.
  7. Heat on medium heat to melt oil and sugar.
  8. When oats, nuts and seeds are cool enough to handle, put them into a large mixing bowl.
  9. Add flax seed and coconut to the bowl and stir to combine.
  10. Pour honey mixture into the bowl and stir to evenly distribute.
  11. Next line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (you want a cookie sheet that has a small lip around all four sides).
  12. Pour the granola onto the cookie sheet and spread out evenly. Your mixture should be approx. ¼-1/2 inch thick.
  13. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes.
  14. Let granola cool completely before removing from cookie sheet.
  15. Break into chunks and store in an airtight container.

The beauty of this recipe is you can really alter it to suit whatever you have on hand or whatever you like in your granola.  If you like dried fruit, add it in the mixture before the second baking (when you add the coconut), if you want it gluten-free leave out the oats or use gluten-free oats – or whatever you like!

If you give them a try please let me know what you think!

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An Intro To: Hip Hop Hustle

Happy Friday folks!  I can’t believe it’s been a week since I left for Toronto (look for my official post re-cap of ZIN Day this weekend).  Tomorrow morning I am beginning to teach a new class format called Hip Hop Hustle.  For any of you familiar with Chalene Johnson, it’s one of the formats she has developed and I got my license back last fall to teach it.  Unfortunately, until now I haven’t been able to find a place in my schedule (which is a bit crazy) until now.  I’m not that keen on teaching classes on Saturdays but I figured I’d give it a try during the summer to see how it goes, and if it goes well I’ll continue it into the fall.

Anyway, since this format isn’t very well-known (at least around here) I thought it would be good to do a post on it to give you the 411 on what it is, what to expect and all that jazz.


What is Hip Hop Hustle?

As I mentioned above, Hip Hop Hustle is one of the programs that Turbo Kick Queen Chalene Johnson has developed.  As an instructor I am sent a new “Hustle” every couple of months that has music and pre-choreographed dance moves that I can learn and then teach to my class.  We aren’t forced to teach it just as it’s written, if you want to change some moves or do your own thing that’s cool, just as long as you follow the basic format.  As a busy instructor I love pre-choreographed classes.  It used to take me forever to come up with step routines each week and hi/lo routines, the beauty of this is you learn it once and then use it for a few weeks or months so it really cuts down on the prep time which is so wonderful for me!

Each “Hustle” is made up of two parts “The Hustle” and “The Show.”   “The Hustle” is made up of fairly easy moves that are easy to learn.  “The Show” is a bit more complicated but is built from a lot of the moves you learn during The Hustle.  Most instructors will teach The Hustle for a number of weeks before teaching the class The Show in order to help them build their competency and make them more comfortable with the base moves.  The biggest difference between the two is during the hustle you are using regular fitness music that has a constant beat, whereas the show is choreographed for a certain piece of music.

Does every class have “The Show”?

No.  Actually, there isn’t a show choreographed for every Hustle we get.  There is only a show in every other release.  I’ve chosen to start with a Hustle that has no show so that my participants can get the hang of Hip Hop Hustle before introducing a show in the fall.  Even with releases that have shows, we don’t have to use them.  We can teach our class all hustles all of the time – or if we want we can teach just the show all of the time.  Each instructor is given the flexibility to teach the class the way that works for them.

I’ve seen Hip Hop Hustle on YouTube and it looks really hard.  Can I really do this??

First of all, for those of you who haven’t seen a show take a look-see at these:

Now, the important thing to keep in mind is generally speaking, these videos are taken after a group has been practising for weeks (sometimes months) so they have spent hours and hours perfecting the moves.  They didn’t show up at 9am and shoot this video at 10am!  With both the hustle and the show the moves are broken down and taught in 8 count segments.  You learn 8 counts, repeat it 4 or 5 times then learn the next 8 counts.  You repeat those 8 counts a number of times then add it to the first 8 counts, then repeat all 16 counts together a number of times before moving on to the next 8 counts.  It provides you with a lot of time to practise and because each time you add something on you repeat all the moves you already learned you really get the routine in your head.

I do Zumba, but this looks W-A-Y harder!  Are you sure I can do it??

Seriously, I think Zumba is harder to learn.  In a Zumba class it’s all about the non-verbal cueing and more of a “follow the leader” sort of dance.  In Hip Hop Hustle you actually are told what to do and learn the dance moves.  Certainly, this type of class can have more difficult choreography but because we can stop, break down the moves and teach at half tempo when needed I think it’s actually easier to learn.  It’s harder for me to teach mind you, because I have to verbally cue the participants, but that’s exactly why it’s easier for the participants 😉

Does this type of class burn lots of calories?

Does a fish need water?  Heck yeah this class burns calories.  As with any fitness class you get out of it what you put in so if you’re not giving it your all you won’t burn loads of calories, but if you go for it you’ll torch calories like crazy – and be a sweaty monster.

What should I wear and bring?

Wear comfortable clothes and sneakers.  Avoid running sneakers if possible as the traction will prevent you from easily moving side to side and will cause you to stick to the floor.  Cross trainers or hip hop sneakers are best.  As for what to bring – water, and if you are a heavy sweater you might want to bring a towel too.

How do I find a class in my area?

This can be a tough one.  There is a search function on Turbo Kick but I don’t know how accurate it is, your best bet is probably to do a Google search for “Hip Hop Hustle + your town” to see what comes up.

I think that’s it.  If there is another type of fitness class you’d like to know more about let me know in the comments!

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I don’t know what it is about me and my blog, but I seem to be a very popular hacking victim.  It was just last month when my blog was hacked the first time, just over $200 later I was back online.  

Afterwards I installed all sorts of precautions that were *suppose* to deter like 80-90% of hackers.  

Clearly, this didn’t stop them as last night I was hacked again.  The very day I got the credit card bill from my last “site cleaning” it needed to be cleaned again.  But I just couldn’t afford to do it this time.  

So I cried.

I think only other bloggers understand just how much time and effort goes into customizing a word press theme, installing all your plug-ins and widgets, playing with codex, and getting everything to look the way you want it.  And then there is writing the posts, trying to promote your posts via twitter and Facebook, etc.  It’s a time consuming process.  All for something you hope might make you a few dollars someday.

Once I stopped crying, I uninstalled word press from my webspace provide control planner.  I deleted everything.  It was the only thing I could do.  So many files were infected it would have been impossible for me to do it, I couldn’t afford to hire someone else to do it so three years worth of posts, my beloved wordpress theme I had spent countless hours customizing, all gone. 

Then I had to wait.  I had to wait for Google to take me off their blacklist before I could even attempt to rebuild what I had lost.  So while I waited I looked around my computers.  Thankfully that past 2 months worth of posts were saved on my iMac, so I knew I could re-upload them once I was back up and running.  On my netbook I found a few more posts going back over a couple years that too could be re-uploaded.  

It’s been a long day.  I’m off the blacklist.  I’ve rebuilt my site, not to it’s former glory, but close enough.  I’ve been installing and setting up plug-ins and widgets like crazy (thank GOD I know html!) and I’ve re-uploaded approximately 45 blog posts.  That’s all I have to start over with – 45 posts.  I believe I had nearly 1000.  Shame on me for not having all of them backed up.  Truthfully, there are more on my netbook but I only re-published the ones I felt were important to me.  A lot of the old posts were junk.  But they were my junk.

Most of my recipes are gone, as well as most of my informative posts.  I will re-write and re-post them but it will take time.

Having had a full 24 hours to reflect on this, I’ve decided to mark this as a starting over point.  Like when a business burns down and they declare that they will rebuild and make it bigger and better than ever.  That is my mission.  To be bigger and better than ever.  And to start off I will be purchasing a package with Sucuri to prevent this sh*t from happening a third time.  And if you aren’t currently covered by a similar company/product, I’d certainly advise it.  It’s no fun having someone break in and ruin what you’ve worked so hard to put together.  And it’s especially not fun when it happens twice in a matter of 40 days.

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The Beauty of Zumba

Tonight was a double Zumba night for me. Well, really most week nights are double Zumba nights, but whatever.

First up was class at Acadia

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I did actually pin my bangs back before class.  Anytime I leave my bangs down is a total disaster.

It’s a weird time of year for fitness classes.  Aside from mid to late December this is always the slowest time of the year.  Classes actually pick up again in the summer once school is out.  Everyone seems to be super busy with concerts, recitals, etc. that classes are always smaller this time of year.  At least for the participants in my classes that means they’ve got extra room to move for a few weeks. 8)

The worst part of double class nights, is trying to make yourself look (and smell!) presentable again for your second class when you really only have 5-10 minutes to fix yourself up.  Here I am ready for class two

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I was feeling pretty tired tonight when I left home so I made a quick pitstop at Tim Horton’s to get one of their frozen Raspberry Lemonades.  So yummy!!

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And bonus – the small is only a buck.  Gotta love that!

So tonight in my second class, I had a Latina girl.  I’ve got a few lovely Latina’s that take my classes on a regular basis but this one came with her husband as she doesn’t speak english.  He came to ask me about the cost and when class ended, etc. and relayed the info to her.  During class I couldn’t help but think about how wonderful Zumba is.  How many other fitness classes can you go into, not need to know the language the instructor speaks and still follow along in the class with everyone else?  Since Zumba is all visual cueing, language simply isn’t an issue.  Plus for her, since Spanish is her first language, she would know (or at least understand) most of the songs.  Certainly she would understand way more of the songs than I do.

I watched her and she was back there with this huge smile on her face the whole time, and it really made my heart smile.  It’s such a cheesy thing to say, but I can’t imagine being in her shoes.  In a country where you understand very few people, and then you go to a fitness class where you know nobody, and can’t even talk to anyone because of the language barrier and don’t have to worry about anything.  You’re just like everyone else there trying to follow along and have fun.  It is times like this that I feel so fortunate to be a part of this crazy Zumba family.

It always strikes me as funny that this super white girl (me), is teaching a latin based dance fitness class to latin people.  It just seems wrong somehow.  But they seem to be happy and enjoy my crazy white girl ways so it all works out in the end 😉

I hope everyone who was off today in observation of Memorial Day had a great day, and for everyone else I hope you had a good start to the week!

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