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How I Got Zumba Certified in Guatemala (and How You Can Too!)

Thinking about getting Zumba certified? The cool thing about Zumba is that you can get certified and teach anywhere in the world. I stumbled upon the opportunity to get certified in Guatemala. The certification was all in Spanish, so it was great language practice and a unique way to get the certification! If you’re thinking about getting Zumba certified and love to travel, I recommend getting it while traveling!

How I Found The Opportunity

I’ve thought of becoming certified in the past, but it never felt like the right time. Out of curiosity, I checked out the Zumba website a few weeks ago seeing if Guatemala had instructor trainings. They did, in San Marcos very soon! It was perfect timing, right when I was trying to figure out what my next work exchange would be. I e-mail the marketing director in charge of the training. “Is it okay if my Spanish is not perfect?” And by “not perfect” I meant I probably wouldn’t understand 85% of what the instructor says. Juanjo assured me there would be plenty of people to help me.

I decided to go for it, charge the class on my credit card ($250). Why not? No idea where it actually is or how I would get there. Or what it would be like. I put my credit card information in the blanks with no hesitation.

How do I get to San Marcos? My Spanish teacher calls Juanjo, the marketing director, to get the details for me. Juanjo invites me to drive to San Marcos with him, his girlfriend, Elena, and Cynthia, the ZES (Zumba Education Specialist). Yes, please.

Fast forward, I’m in the backseat with three new friends starting a 5-hour adventure to San Marcos, Guatemala. I realize quickly that San Marcos is not the town along the lake that I had originally thought, it’s the state in Guatemala right next to Mexico. I would have NEVER found this on my own.

Zumba Certification Schedule

Thursday: Zumba master class in Antigua, 2 hours
Friday: Zumba master class in San Marcos, 2 hours
Saturday: Basic 1 (B1) Zumba course, 8 hours
Sunday: Basic 2 (B2) Zumba course, 8 hours

Thursday and Friday were free bonus classes. Saturday and Sunday were two separate classes.

After 5 hours on the road with Juan, Elena, and Cynthia, I felt like they were my new bestfriends, like they had adopted me into their family and I was somehow Guatemalan at this point.

We got to the hotel. It was a nice hotel. It instantly made me laugh. It is not really in my backpacking budget to stay at nice hotels, thank god for credit cards. I didn’t ask the price of the hotel until I checked out, it was only $20ish/night.

Basic 1 Certification

B1 started off as a regular Zumba class. We then learned to read music and use the music to formulate a routine, how to incorporate fitness, the basic styles [merengue, salsa, reggaeton, and cumbia], and tips on how to cue students on what the next step in your routine is.

I learned so much. You should not teach Zumba if you have not taken this course. There were about 15 students, all different levels. Some caught on fast and seemed experienced in dance/Zumba, others I questioned whether they had ever taken a Zumba class before. You receive your certification at the end of the class regardless of how you do.

I was planning to do just the B1 training and find a bus back to Antigua on Sunday so I could be back for work. That was not an option anymore. There was no way I wanted to find a bus, so I decided to do B2 training as well.

Mid class pic

Basic 2 Certification

B2 was different. B1 prepared me physically to teach Zumba and B2 prepared me mentally.

Everyone in the class had teaching experience [except for me] and strong dance ability for the most part.

By the end, I felt like my hips were going to need to be replaced. It’s mentally and physically draining to learn that much information in that short of time.

At the end of B2, things got personal and people shared intimate stories of how Zumba has saved their lives. It was a beautiful experience. I cried hearing the heartbreaking stories of my new friends. Shortly after, a Zumba couple got engaged, and I cried some more.

My instructor, Cynthia!

Conclusion

This weekend made me want to stay in Guatemala. I have a family now. I have community and a purpose. When I am Zumba-ing, I can’t stop smiling. I probably look crazy at times, but there is no use in filtering yourself. Just when I start to feel tired during a class, Suavemente comes on and my body will not allow me to stop. I can’t wait to start teaching!!!

How Can I Get Certified?

If you want to teach, I recommend searching the Zumba website wherever you are. Zumba certifications are all over the world! Click here for more information in general. Each country has a separate website, so you’ll have to search by individual country.

A special thanks to Juanjo, Elena, Cynthia, Sahily, and all the beautiful people I met in San Marcos.

Tips for Getting Zumba Certified

  • Bring LOTS of water and snacks (it’s hardcore)
  • Pack a lunch just in case
  • Network with other teachers! Create contacts while you’re there, it could help you land a job in the future. Also, it’s always good to have friends with similar passions.
  • I only think it’s necessary to get B1 certification (not both B1 and B2). You can get more certifications with time. Each certification opens a new door for different styles of classes you can teach. But it’s not necessary to do both (like I did).
  • Bring a notepad – write down any songs you love or things you want to use for your own classes.
  • Video your favorite dances and use them in your classes!
  • Relax and have fun! You get the certification no matter what, so don’t worry about doing things perfectly!

Update: I taught Zumba in Guatemala for a month and in Chicago for about a year. I recently canceled my membership before I moved to Korea. It was fun teaching, but I was not getting paid enough to keep up with the membership fee of $30/month.

If you have any questions, comment below or email me at hello@courtneytheexplorer.com!! <3

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