New Year’s Resolution: Shape Up!

Dear lovely loyal reader,

How have you been? I’m mostly well too (thanks!), struggling to conquer sugar cravings and removing make-up before sleep. My resolutions is “just do it!”The opportunity for a new top me-me-me sounded tempting, a spiritual Klondike on a personal horizon of dreams and hopes.

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However a few weeks through January, when it became obvious that goal accomplishment has already failed, there was one I intended to nail no matter what – shape up! Frankly speaking it would be really cool to get super fit in my 30s and be discovered by Sports Illustrated.

Would you agree that the year of 2016 was the year of healthy living? If research into the benefits of black coffee, red wine and butter left some questions unanswered, Instagram hashtags #fitness and #fit displayed endless motivation and effort towards a stronger body. Meanwhile my initial attempts to exercise were barely successful and rather painful:

Right at that moment the destiny introduced me to Leo.

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Leo belongs to a rare circle of Personal Trainers who don’t brag, but do their job with enthusiasm, passion and contagious persistency. Yelling is not in practice either. Instead, he uses a technique that I describe as “charm and kill”, loading me with a logically connected chain of exercises similar in structure to DNA. Just right when I’m out of breath or motivation to continue, he would drop: “Today’s pain – tomorrow’s gain, smash it Anna” and smile. While I indulge in double Caesars for fun – Leo wakes up at 5am to win Cross Fit “pageants”.

The best is that he focuses on my fading body goals to tone sagging knees, straighten outer thighs and so many many more. Leo delivers a tailored workout every time and gets me stronger, fitter and healthier because a rising star swimwear model is not just a pretty face!

So to keep my New Year resolution alive and get you involved, I teamed up with unstoppable Leo who decided to break our “perfect legs” exercise routine into 5 easy moves. Attention: warm up and stretching are not included in this routine but should never ever be skipped (though skipping is great for lean leggies).

Move 1: Front Squats

A very successful exercise that results in stronger and leaner legs. Choose to start without weight if your recent workout plan involved Netflix’s “Chef’s Table” or spying on friend’s Instagram (I’m certainly guilty), otherwise move some weight off your shoulders to the front, stand with your feet apart and squat! Do 20, 15 and 10 reps.

Move 2: Ball Throw Squats

A variation of the previous exercise engages additional groups of muscles including shoulders. Start with a lighter weight and focus on your posture. It’s important to keep your back straight and straighten knees softly every time. Do 20, 15 and 10 reps.

Move 3: Single Leg Bench Lunges

Stand a meter away from a bench. Keep your back straight, place one foot on the bench, smile, bend your leg and lunge. Do 20, 15 and 10 reps.

Move 4: Curtsy Lunges

A powerful variation of the standard lunge, this exercise tones outer hips and builds better glutes. Bring one of your feet back and across your body. Both knees when bent should be 90 degrees (as always). Do 20, 15 and 10 reps.

Move 5: Forward lunges

This is considered a dangerous exercise, please remember to keep your chest lifted, back straight and knees bent at 90 degrees. Add weight only when a standard lunge has been mastered to perfection. Wear compression socks for an extra support.

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Well done! Let’s make the world a fitter place together, right meow!

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I am wearing Coega sunwear and Zumba wear. For questions and inspiration feel free to reach out to Leo or stalk me on Instagram or Facebook

Teach. Dance. Party – Zumba!

Secret no. 1: It was love at first sight between me and Zumba!

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We met rather randomly. They say opposites attract, so there I was a big fan of mat exercises and a quiet reader of The Economist who meditates to the sounds of Tibet, scrolling through my work mail in front of the studio. “You could use some cha-cha-cha, girl. It’ll loosen up your back”, laughed someone’s voice and a few minutes later it happened. I lost my soul to the wild Zumba moves. Forever, I’m afraid…

To my delight, Zumba loved me back! I juggled and partied through classes leaving behind work stress, the weight of deadlines and pressure from the land of business. I integrated all kinds of sneaky salsa steps into my daily walks around the office. I amused colleagues with occasional “a la cadera” routine on lunch break. I traveled with Zumba wear while my Instagram flourished with Zumba looks from all over the world…

“My moves-my rules” and on a count of four (my lucky number) one summer afternoon a passion had turned into a profession. I registered for certified Zumba Basic 1 instructor training (oh, la la!) in Dubai.

Secret no. 2: You can as well! Everyone can. Around the world  zumba.com

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Being a Zumba instructor with a license to teach for up to a year sounded absolutely awesome! It would be a flexible paid engagement that brings happiness, prolongs wellbeing, encourages traveling and socializing. Top it up with a new collection of Zumba wear every couple of weeks that turns you into a desirable trendy superstar! So without any doubt I was ready to scream “Yes!” and take my relationship with Zumba to the next level. At least spiritually. So to support my commitment with action, I sat down to obsessively study the training manual (the curse of a perfectionist) to be one move ahead and to surprise the dancing community with my witty comments (the curse of a manager).

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On the morning of the training I was ready to jam, learn and impress. Equipped with a spare outfit, water and Zumba protein shake I was fearless, no challenge seemed to be challenging enough. I must admit, I was wrong!

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My first impressions straightened me up. The Bare fitness studio in the heart of Dubai was full. Full to the limits (I had no idea Zumba was so popular in the Middle East), however it was rewarding to find out how easily fitness united people from different regions and counties, including the UAE, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Europe and the UK. There were no boundaries, just the rhythm of dance! Our instructor Steve handled a demanding crowd with a professional sharpness. In a matter of seconds I was greeted, registered and briefed. The fun has started!

Steve was truly brilliant. He had carefully constructed his training in a way that was interactive, engaging and easy to follow. He started with the free style master class giving everyone an opportunity to show off and then gradually moved to teaching the basic steps of Merengue, Salsa, Cumbia, and Reggaeton. With constant repetition and friendly assurance, we all clapped, jumped, laughed and successfully followed his choreography (with variations!). At times, Steve would pause the training to mix standup humor with facts, and would talk us through the dancing routine, music, secrets of being a great instructor and that strictly confidential Zumba formula. I hardly noticed the time fly by.

Loaded with the theoretical and practical knowledge, I couldn’t wait to get home to practice my new moves and steps. Dancing was a part of me. I felt inspired and overwhelmed by the new exciting opportunities and connections. Training with Steve and with all those beautiful, talented and motivated individuals made me realize that I wasn’t alone in this journey to the greater me as a person and as a new instructor. There was more than a community of fitness enthusiasts as Zumba combined it all: people, technology, fashion, innovation, ideas, formula, choreography, music, steps, beauty, healthy supplements, spirit, you name it! Now I’m a part of Zumba too.

Secret no. 3 Here are 10 proven tricks to get through the Basic 1 successfully:

  1. Attend Zumba classes ahead of the training;
  2. Read the manual;
  3. Google your instructor and learn about them before the course;
  4. Invest in trendy Zumba outfit (20% off with antrestain at zumba.com (US));
  5. Carry business cards to connect with great people around you;
  6. Pack a change of clothes, shoes, a towel, water bottle, snacks (I opted for Zumba protein shake);
  7. Monitor your wellbeing: phase up and phase down to stay actively healthy;
  8. Bring camera and don’t go shy on photos;
  9. Try to get closer to the stage;
  10. Have fun! Your first training will be unforgettable!

Find more information about the training at zumba.com. Stalk me on Instagram or Facebook

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