|Posted on April 26, 2016 at 7:20 AM||comments (0)|
I was in Florida on a work trip a couple of weeks ago when I happened by the Zumba headquarters completely by chance. We were walking around Gulf Stream Park when I saw this sign on the wall: Zumba Fitness, CORPORATE OFFICE, 2ND FLOOR.
As soon as I saw it, I heard this sound.
Without even trying, I had stumbled upon the Holy Grail. I couldn't believe my luck!
Ginger and Darcy went on back to the hotel. I told them to go on without me. I think it was quarter 'til five but I decided to pop in anyway. I mean, how often do you randomly run into the Zumba Home Office on a work trip? Plus, I didn't know when I'd ever be in the area again. I had to go up and see if I could get a tour.
I don't think Monica was super thrilled to see me that late in the day but she was nice enough to humor me. I explained to her that I'm a ZIN (Zumba Instructor Network member) in good standing and I'm only in the area for a couple of days and I didn't know when I'd be back and I would like to get a tour of Home Office if at all possible. Monica explained that public tours are only available from 2 pm to 4 pm and, any other time, tours are done by appointment only. "This is the only time I have," I pleaded. "Can you please check to see if there's anyone available for a quick five minute tour?"
"Let me check," she said as she started typing away on the computer. I waited patiently in their stylishly decorated lobby with all of my fingers and toes crossed. After what seemed like an eternity, she told me the last thing I wanted to hear. There was no one available. I should have known. Everybody wants to go home. No one will want to stick around and give a random, crazy person a tour that late in the day.
"Are you able to come back tomorrow afternoon?" she asked.
"No," I told her. "I have a meeting starting at eleven o'clock and will be tied up well into the evening. Can I come back for a tour first thing tomorrow morning?"
Again, Monica informed me that I would need to schedule an appointment. She did me a solid though, and she gave the name and email address of there person in charge, Community Relations Specialist Gina Graziani.
"May I please have her phone number so I can give her a call as well?"
Monica looked in the system and couldn't find her phone number but, being the resourceful person that I am, I saw some business cards on the desk.
"May I have one of these?" I asked, pointing at the business cards.
"Oh, yes. If you call that number, they should be able to connect you with Gina."
I called the number as I walked back to the hotel. I'm not sure what the phone number was for but it wasn't the right number. The man who answered explained that Gina belonged to a different department and I had to hang up and dial a completely different number. Some people would be annoyed but I was overjoyed that he was giving me the correct phone number to call. I eagerly called the second number and was able to get to Gina's voicemail. I left a very desperate sounding message and told her that I would follow up with an email. As soon as I got to my hotel room, I fired up my laptop, immediately typed up an equally desperate email, and hit send.
And then I waited. And waited.
Obviously, I didn't hear back because it was the end of the day but I was hopeful. Darcy wanted to go to the beach before our meeting the next day. I told her I would be happy to go with her but it depended on whether or not I could get a tour of the Zumba Home Office. I was now on a mission and I was determined to accomplish it.
Darcy and I met at 8 am the next morning for breakfast. Still no phone call or email response from Gina at this point. After eating breakfast and visiting for an hour, I checked my email again. Still nothing. At this point, we only had a couple of hours before our 11 am meeting so I didn't think we had time to go to the beach. However, I had a couple of hours to try to squeeze a tour in.
"What are you going to do?" Darcy asked, knowing I didn't have an appointment.
"I'm going to ask for a tour and I'm not going to take no for an answer," I said determined. "I'm going to wait in their lobby and I'm not leaving until someone gives me a tour. Someone is bound to take a break at some point. Maybe I could tag along with them while they take their break?" Wishful thinking on my part, I admit. I failed to take into account that, unlike crazy workaholics like myself, people don't actually want to work on their designated breaks.
When I got back to the office, Monica wasn't at her desk so I had to wait outside until she came back. When she came back, I waived at her enthusiastically from the glass doors with a look of "Hi, it's me again! Remember me? Crazy ZIN from yesterday?" on my face. I'm sure she was thinking, "OMG. Not you again!" but she didn't show it. To my surprise, she actually buzzed me in.
"Do you have an appointment?"
"I called and I emailed but I didn't hear back," I told her, "but I called and emailed really late in the day so she might not have gotten to my call and email yet. I only have free time until eleven, though. Could you please try and see if it's possible for me to get a tour? I fly home tomorrow and I don't know when I'll be back."
We went over the whole tours are by appointment only unless between the hours of two and four in the afternoon again.
"I know but I don't have any other time. If there's another tour that's scheduled and they don't mind, I'd be happy to tag along on that tour or, if someone could spare five minutes, I will be quick. I promise," I told her. Monica explained that tours usually take about a half an hour. Even a quick one would take at least 20 minutes.
"Let me see if Gina is available."
So I waited once again with my fingers and toes crossed. At this point, I was a little bit nervous. On the one hand, I really, really, really wanted a tour. But, on the other hand, I cannot be late for my meeting which is the whole reason that I was in Florida to begin with. The PwC Experience Center was only two minutes away so I was calculating in my head how much longer I could wait before I had to give up and call it quits. It was then when Monica finally called me back up to the desk.
"Gina is on her way."
Gina wasn't by herself. She brought security with her so they could escort me off the premises. Just kidding. Gina actually brought one of her team members, Marsha, with her. Gina explained that she was running late for a meeting so she couldn't give me a tour. Marsha would be giving me the tour instead.
Here's a picture of the three of us behind the reception desk. Gina is on the left and Marsha is on the right. Both ladies were super nice and welcoming. They said that they really love it whenever they have ZIN visitors. Although, I'm pretty sure they prefer it if you make an appointment ahead of time. LOL.
Despite the randomness of my visit, they still made me feel special and welcome. And for that, I'm truly grateful.
"Is this where Beto sits?" I asked Marsha.
I learned that Beto doesn't actually have a permanent seat. However, he usually sits at the other end by the door so he can make a quick exit when needed. Makes sense.
This is the "Salsa" conference room where Forum Live! happens. Marsha asked if I'd ever participated in one but I haven't. It usually happens during the day while I'm working. Maybe one of these days I'll be able to hop on but I haven't had the pleasure as of yet.
This is a picture of their break room where Zumba President and COO Alberto Aghion, the third Alberto in the Holy Trinity of Zumba, has lunch everyday. Marsha said that he usually sits at a different table each time and uses the opportunity to chat with employees. He does this everyday.
Aghion is known to employees but, to the general public, he is the lesser known of the three Albertos. He works behind the scenes so not a lot of people know about him. The only reason I know of him is because I've been to a few ZINCONs. He's not as visible as Zumba CEO Alberto Perlman and definitely not as visible as Beto.
I'm not sure if the door was locked because I didn't try it. t wish I would have asked Marsha for permission to look into his office. He wasn't there. I know this because Marsha told me that any time Beto is in his office he always has his music on full blast you can hear it all the way down the hall. This would explain why his office is away from the other two Albertos. LOL.
Anyway, Marsha encouraged me to take pictures of everything except for Finance, HR (also known as People & Culture), Legal, IT, and Zumba wear. Yes, I got to see the new Zumba wear line and pictures of all of the designs yet to come through 2018. I just couldn't take any pictures.
This is a picture of the studio where they have free Zumba classes for employees at least three times a week. Armando and Heidy and other zelebs (also known as celebrity Zumba instructors) teach on a regular basis. Now that's what I call a job perk!
I want one of these life-sized cutouts for my next Zumba party!
This is the customer service area. Part of it anyway. They outsource the first level of customer service. If I remember correctly the only customer service work they handle at Zumba Home Office is their online/email support.
Here's a picture of me with Monica. Note her outfit. They actually encourage people to wear Zumba wear to work everyday.
Besides all of the fun pictures, I also got a some parting gifts: some rubber Zumba wristbands (Marsha gave me a couple), socks (a 2-pack with a pair each in Zumba green and pink) and a pink "Get Funked Up" t-shirt. That's pretty much my tour of Zumba Home Office. Huge thanks to Marsha Segree, my wonderful tour guide; Monica Lazarus, friendly receptionist who was ever so patient with me; and Gina Graziani, Community Relations Specialist extraordinaire.
Thank you for making this trip to Florida truly memorable!
|Posted on March 29, 2015 at 9:15 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on November 9, 2014 at 8:40 AM||comments (0)|
We are celebrating our awesome students this month by giving away coupons to FREE Zumba wear. All of my coupons have been given out and I'm just waiting for my students orders to arrive so we can get our selfies taken and get a chance to win our $500 shopping sprees. Whee!
Here are the rules, in case you missed them:
|Posted on September 28, 2014 at 5:15 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on August 21, 2014 at 10:05 PM||comments (1)|
I really had high expectations this year after an amazing Zumba Instructor Conference in 2013. I didn't think this year's ZINCON was as cool as last year's -- I mean, last year was amazing, so it would be pretty hard to live up to it -- but I still had a ton of fun. There were aspects of ZINCON that were better last year than this year and vice versa.
Check in was really smooth this year. I think it's because they had the desks open for longer hours. Our bags this year were a different style than last year, which is good because I already have two of those one-shoulder backpack bags (one from the 2013 Conference and one from the 2014 Convention). We got a commemorative convention shirt, but the quality of the shirts isn't as good as last year. Also notably missing were our ZINCON 2014 bracelets. I didn't really miss those as much as other attendees. I thought the free luggage tag more than made up for the bracelets. I love, love, love my Zumba logo luggage tag. I actually used it on my carry on luggage on the way home.
I thought the signage was somewhat scaled down this year. The graffiti walls were a really nice touch, though. There were several throughout the convention center and Hyatt Regency. I wrote several notes. Brian wrote on them too.
The graffiti walls were great! Totally made up for not having as many of the massive signs all over the convention area.
Here's a picture of me in front of the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. It is hands down the largest convention center I've ever been in.
The hotels around the convention center got in on the festivities by having drink specials. Found this board at the Hilton.
We didn't really spend a lot of money on meals (other than our $150 anniversary dinner at The Oceanaire) because we picked up groceries. This is what the pantry and fridge of a ZINCON pro looks like. LOL.
We were so much more prepared this year compared to last year. It helps to know what to expect. We got wine, beer, and snacks. We didn't go hungry at all.
I also loved all of the flash mobs this year. They were popping up everywhere. Last year the focus was the Zumba World Party video game demo. This year they added the ZIN DJ stage which was really a great area for showcasing some talented instructors. The districts really got into it. I loved watching all of their performances.
One of the reasons ZINCON 2013 is hard to top is because it was so well-conceived. This year the theme was somewhat all over the place. It wasn't as cohesive as last year. However, there are so many great things they added this year that we didn't have last year. For instance, we actually got to see the third Alberto. I thought he was a myth for the longest time. He's a real person after all.
I guess part of the reason that I still think that ZINCON 2013 was the best is because it was my first. Your first is always the most memorable, I guess. However, there were so many awesome things about ZINCON 2014 so I think it's equally amazing in its own right. If you've never been to a Zumba instructor convention, you have to check it out. There really are no words to describe this event. It has to be experienced in person. Oowa! Oowa!
|Posted on August 10, 2014 at 8:05 AM||comments (0)|
It's that time of year again! I'm very excited for this coming weekend but since I'm no longer a ZINCON virgin, I'm not as manic about it. If you are attending this year, let's connect. My schedule is as follows.
Here are my tips:
- Yes. Most definitely leave your checkbook at home. They're no good at ZINCON. Besides who writes checks anymore anyway? LOL.
- I would bring swimwear regardless. The Hyatt Regency (formerly Peabody Orlando) has a fantastic pool and everyone hangs out at the pool on the last day of ZINCON. Don't miss out on the impromptu Aqua Zumba sessions that break out at the pool after all of the sessions are over.
- I'd skip the backpack unless you absolutely want to bring one because we usually get one at registration along with some other goodies. I usually end up using the backpack that they provide. I will recommend bringing a Sharpie or something else to personalize your backpack because everyone at convention will have the same one and it can be really confusing to figure out which one is yours when you have dozens of them lined up together along the wall or stage.
- I would invest in an extended battery case or bring an extra battery for your phone or bring a charging cable with you. You're going to be taking hundreds of pictures throughout the day and, if your phone is like mine, it will be dead halfway through the day. You don't want to miss out on awesome photo-ops with ZIN royalty. Trust me on this one.
- Don't pack too many extra outfits. You're going to buy lots of Zumba gear at ZINCON and you'll want to wear them. Trust me on this one too. Even if you're planning on not shopping, the temptation is too hard to resist. Once you buy new Zumba wear, you're going to want to wear it. Then you'll be like, "Why did I bring all this extra stuff?" Plus, you need extra room in your suitcase to take home all your loot.
- The best thing about shopping ZINCON is they always release new stuff at the store that's not available on the web site so you get dibs on new merchandise. Sometimes the items sell out so quickly that they don't even make it on the web site so you get exclusive gear. There's also lots of great deals to be had at the outlet on existing styles.
- The convention center has fantastic food kiosks and there are lots of options to choose from but almost everyone goes to lunch at the same time so the lines can be long. You may or may not have enough time to eat and freshen up. Pack some sandwiches in your backpack. Brian and I usually take an Execucar from the airport so we can stop by a grocery or convenience store to pick up supplies. We get a case of water, peanut butter, loaf of bread, fruits, and other necessities.
- You will meet lots of cool people who you'll want to connect with post-ZINCON. The best thing to do is take a picture of them with their badges next to their face. Trust me on this one too. It will be hard to remember names after. With their badge next to their face in the photo, you have a face and the name to go along with it.
- I recommend staying at the hotel that is closest to the convention center. The hotel recently changed ownership. It used to be a Peabody hotel now it is a Hyatt Regency. So much happens in the convention area of the main hotel that staying there will save on a lot of walking.
- You don't really need to bring any extra shoes or outfits unless you are planning on some fancy dinners. I was in my Zumba gear and sneakers the entire time I was there.
- Staying at one of the recommended hotels also saves you from car rental costs. And, you won't have to find parking for it. Also, parking is super expensive. Use the rental car and parking money for shopping instead. You're better off. You won't need a car, specially if you stay at Hyatt Regency.
- Bag check is available if you can make it to your hotel room to drop off your shopping bags before your next session. It's really helpful but I never used it last year because I had Brian. He was my runner. LOL. If you are interested in using the bag check service, here's the schedule:
- I recommend hitting registration the day before so you're not rushing on Thursday morning. Check in opens at 9 AM so it shouldn't be crowded later in the day. Your badge also tell you which conference rooms your sessions are located. I usually walk to all of my sessions the day before so (a) I know where they are and I'm not lost the day of the session, (b) I know exactly how much time it takes to get there. Why? because I want to be there early and be front and center. The splash zone is where it's at, baby!
- Some people who have been to multiple ZINCONs skip the keynote in favor of shopping or sleeping in. I say get there early to do your shopping because they bring a different keynote speaker to each event and they are always fantastic. This year the speaker is Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar. I've never seen him speak but he is all about happiness, which is right up my alley.
- I always love the live performances at the theme party. Oh, the best part is Wisin is performing at the fitness-concert. I love his songs! I am super excited to watch him perform live. You absolutely cannot miss the party and fitness-concert. They are amazing. There's so much energy packed into one place that I'm surprised the convention center doesn't implode.
|Posted on June 29, 2014 at 3:25 PM||comments (0)|
I'm teaching several classes this week since we will be in town over the holiday. I hope to see your lovely faces at least once. Come say hello!
|Posted on June 21, 2014 at 10:55 AM||comments (0)|
Hello, all. I just wanted to give everyone a heads up that I will no longer be keeping up my song lists. The new song database has pretty much rendered the lists obsolete.
- The complete Mega Mix list starts at MM1 and ends with MM41.
- The ZIN volumes list has volumes 1 through 50.
|Posted on April 28, 2014 at 10:05 PM||comments (1)|
At least once a year I participate in Zumba in the Square. The last couple of years I've attended I didn't teach. This year I actually got to teach four songs. I'm so glad the weather held up for us. It was the perfect day for outdoor Zumba.
Here are some of my favorite photos from Saturday night.
It was prom night for several high schools so we had some teenagers in prom attire dance with us. It was quite a sight!
Brian proved yet again that he is the most awesome husband ever. He hung out with us all night and took photos and videos. You can find some of the videos on my Zumba Fitness with Ching Facebook page and others are on the Flip and Ching Facebook page.
Here's a photo of me and my friend Nick.
Missy and I were twins on Saturday night.
I had such a great time. You'll have to join us next time! You won't regret it.
Huge thanks to the most awesome husband ever for taking all of these photos!
|Posted on April 17, 2014 at 5:10 PM||comments (0)|