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Member Turns Zumba Instructor

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Members need a reason to “buy-in” to your club — something that will keep them coming day in and day out. For Christina Noakes, Zumba was that reason.

Noakes, 31, of Phoenix Ariz., was a professional ballerina from 2003 until she retired in 2008, when she became a mom to twins. “Dance always has been my passion. I wanted to find a dancing outlet.”

She became a member of Mountainside Fitness after she met an instructor while teaching a dance class for children — she fell in love with the facility. Having been a member at various gyms over time, Noakes joked that her membership at Mountainside is her “first long-term relationship.” Other gyms just never stuck for her.

The first Noakes had heard of Zumba was from a neighbor who encouraged her to attend a class. “I just loved it! And no, I didn’t know all the moves at first, but you just shake it until you fake it.” She tried to attend Zumba classes as much as possible, but with young children she didn’t have a set schedule. Around Christmas 2010 she had some more time and participated in as many Zumba classes as possible. “It’s just so fun, it never feels like exercise.”

Zumba has seeped into many areas of Noakes life — specifically, getting her husband to attend a class. She has suggested the experience to everyone she knows. She has made friends with instructors and fellow class members. “Cardio-wise [Zumba] has helped me so much,” she said. “I noticed the difference in my stamina running around with my twins.” Noakes has even made a part-time career out of Zumba, becoming an instructor.

In May 2011, Noakes received her Zumba certification, thanks to encouragement from another instructor. The certification process was fun, easy and she her training with everything she needed to instruct her first class. Once certified, Noakes notified her club’s group fitness director that she could sub for Zumba classes at Mountainside. She currently teaches her own Zumbatomics® class, designed for children under 12 years of age, and will begin teaching her own adult Zumba class soon.

“Since I was a participant first, I think I’m able to recognize what may be easier or harder for people to do,” Noakes said. “I definitely have a lot more respect for instructors — it’s a whole different stamina level. I think having a ballet background helps me be a little more comfortable with it, but I tell everyone they need to give it a try at least once!”

She gives Mountainside credit for offering not only a wide variety of Group X classes, but also specifically a lot of Zumba classes. “I really think it’s such a huge draw for memberships.” Zumba classes at the Carefree, Ariz. Mountainside Fitness location have been so popular that they are sometimes moved out of the group fitness room and onto the basketball courts.

If she wasn’t teaching, Noakes said she would definitely still be a participant. “It’s just so much fun. It’s not just a physical outlet either, for me it’s mental too.”

Do you have members with untapped potential that could become an instructor? What better way to find new instructors than pull from a pool of people who are already invested in your club personally? Make it a point to tell your Group X directors and instructors to be on the lookout for potential new instructors. Noakes paid for her own certification, and then became an instructor. Seems like a great relationship for both the member and the club. -CS

By Ali Cicerchi

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