For the Love of Zumba!
Greetings, ladies of Tinderbox! I have had the opportunity to meet some of you, but for those I have not had the pleasure of meeting yet, I am Millicent Booker Ford and I am one of the new Zumba instructors here at Tinderbox.
I am a native of North Carolina – raised in Fuquay-Varina by my amazing parents who still reside there – and my family and I moved to Winston Salem after living in Northwest Arkansas for the last 5 years. We are enjoying living back in this fabulous state, and I am so very grateful for the warm welcome I received since I started teaching classes at Tinderbox on Thursday evenings a few months ago.
A Deep Love of Dance
For as long as I can remember, I have loved to dance. I have fond, vivid memories of dancing with my younger sister in the living room of our home, changing albums on the record player and making up routines to show to our parents. I was in formal dance classes for a couple of years in elementary school… believe it or not, I was a very shy child. As much as I loved ballet and tap and jazz, I was so nervous on stage… you would be hard-pressed to find a single picture of me at a recital where I was not looking down at the floor because I was so afraid to look at the audience. As I got older, we stopped doing dance lessons and I started participating in school sports and other extracurricular activities. But I never stopped dancing.
In my quest to stay in shape, I eventually came across the description of a certain dance fitness class that featured Latin rhythms, and the rest, as they say, is history.
When I went to college at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, FL, some of my friends suggested that we go to Latin night at a local club. I had never danced to salsa, merengue, bachata, or cumbia, but I was immediately hooked. I loved the music, and the moves felt so natural.
I wanted to go dancing every chance I could get, but those opportunities were few and far between when I went to medical school at UNC Chapel Hill and residency at Duke. In my quest to stay in shape, I eventually came across the description of a certain dance fitness class that featured Latin rhythms, and the rest, as they say, is history. Over the years, I have done tried a variety of workouts, including CrossFit, but the workout that feels like it was made for me is Zumba! I have been a Zumba student for over 10 years, and I became a licensed Zumba instructor 3 years ago.
My Family Legacy of Health and Fitness
Outside of the gym, I wear a few other hats… wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, friend, volunteer, pediatrician. I have been married to my husband Kenneth for almost 14 years, and we are the proud parents of two amazing children: our 12 year old son KJ and our 10 year old daughter Mackenzie. It is so important for me that the children see their parents making fitness a priority.
The gift of health is one of our greatest blessings from God, and I want to teach my children what my grandparents and parents taught me about taking care of our bodies.
My mother and father are 67 and 70 years old, respectively, and among so many other wonderful lessons they taught me, they instilled in me the importance of staying active. My mom works out at least 4 days a week and my dad plays golf at least twice a week. My grandfather, who died of metastatic cancer during my first year of medical school, was a prime example for all of his children and grandchildren. He farmed his entire life, and in his mid-80s, he was “going to the spa” (our local gym) several days a week.
The gift of health is one of our greatest blessings from God, and I want to teach my children what my grandparents and parents taught me about taking care of our bodies. I want them to understand that exercising and eating healthy (though their mom may or may not consume sour patch kids, cupcakes and French fries every now and then) can increase their likelihood of remaining healthy and active in later years.
How I Like to Teach
I love Zumba, and I hope that it is obvious when we are in class together that I love teaching. One thing that you may notice pretty early on in my class is that I do not wear a microphone and I do not do very much verbal cueing. I say that not to scare anyone away, but so that you know what to expect if you come to class on a Thursday at 5:30PM.
My goal for each class is twofold: I want everyone to get a great workout and I want everyone to have fun!
Not long ago, a student who was new to my class leaned over to another and asked “does she talk?” LOL! I do talk, but I really focus on leading with non-verbal cues. One of the best compliments I have received, besides “I had a great time in your class” has been “you are so easy to follow”. I practice my cues often, in the mirror, in the car, and on family and friends before bringing the song to class, in hopes that everyone is able to follow along. It makes my heart happy to see everyone catching on to the choreography! My goal for each class is twofold: I want everyone to get a great workout and I want everyone to have fun!
The Wonderful Benefits of Zumba
What I love most is that, when we step onto the dance floor, we get a chance to put all the things that fill our days on hold for a few minutes and focus completely on ourselves while dancing, sweating, smiling and enjoying the company of other busy women who also wear multiple hats.
There are so many things I love about Zumba! For starters, the music is fabulous. I appreciate the myriad of rhythms from which we can choose to present to students. This variety keeps the classes interesting and fun for students and instructors alike. I also love that, even though this is group fitness, individuality is encouraged. When we say “it is your workout”, we truly mean it. Movements can be modified if a student has a health issue like a prior injury, and people can ramp up the intensity if they so choose. Every student is unique and every instructor is unique, and each person’s ability to put her own flavor into the choreography makes Zumba special. Zumba, in addition to being fun, is wonderful because it helps to keep my mind active. Memorizing choreography and cues, making sure to scan the room to see if students are getting the moves and making adjustments as needed, making a playlist that is fun and challenging for students of all levels of dance and comfort… these things keep my mind fresh and give me a mental workout in addition to a physical one. What I love most is that, when we step onto the dance floor, we get a chance to put all the things that fill our days on hold for a few minutes and focus completely on ourselves while dancing, sweating, smiling and enjoying the company of other busy women who also wear multiple hats.
I love the feeling of community at Tinderbox and I appreciate the support I have received thus far. I look forward to meeting everyone and I hope to dance with you soon!