It is such a thrill to get to share the journeys of Z Club NY’s fascinating and eclectic community of students. Author Sasha Graham is certainly no exception! I was riveted by her story and it is a thrill to share how her love for Zumba and Z Club NY has helped her find happiness and love for herself through attending a weekly cornucopia of classes. Sasha says, “Zumba has taught me that I feel more alive when I’m moving.” – by Yali Szulanski for Z Club NY.
What inspires you to succeed in class and in your life?
I’m super inspired when experiencing or doing something new. I like creating things that haven’t existed before. Beauty, art, sex, dance, music, theater, film, literature, pop culture, my family and friends all inspire me, all the time. Being alone in the woods or packed amidst the throngs of the twilight rush hour on Broadway are equally inspiring in opposite ways. I’m inspired when I catch myself in a moment of heightened awareness and beauty.
Zumba always feels new, even if you are familiar with the instructor and know their choreography. You go and have an experience with a group of people and an amazing instructor. You create something together, an experience, movement that wasn’t there before and once its over, like live theater, it will never happen again. Even as the experience repeats, it’s different every time. While it’s happening, you are super aware/focused and losing yourself at the same time. It is being in a state of flow. It’s transcendent.
Z Club NY’s instructors are REALLY inspiring in a class. They are the best. You know when you watch a movie and you feel you become one of the characters? For me, the same thing happens in Zumba because you are hyper focused on the instructor and their moves. Plus, instructors teach wordlessly … it’s really cool. We are all used to learning via words, via lectures because of our school mindset. But the learning process in Zumba happens on a whole different level. Rather than ingesting or intellectualizing information, you go to class and observe, listen, watch and move all at the same time.
How has Zumba / Z Club NY supported your health and fitness goals?
I feel less guilty about all the eating and drinking I do. Seriously. My husband is a food photographer and we are total foodies and do loads of entertaining. I never want to deny myself any pleasure. Life is about enjoying what’s in front of you in the moment because it can disappear in an instant.
I think a woman’s source of power is her hips. Zumba helps you connect to your hips and your core in a big way. It’s like it helps you find your power center but the power is expressed in the movement … it has made me feel strong and more confident in my skin.
What have you learned about yourself through taking classes at Z Club NY?
Z Club NY helped me remember how much I wanted to be a dancer when I was young and how much I love dance in general. Now, Z Club NY gives me a way to experience the awesomeness of dance and music with every class. It also reminds me of being in clubs when I was first in NYC back in the 80’s. I was out all the time. The best part about those days, aside from my friends, was the dancing. Going out was about losing yourself and becoming something primal. Becoming a creature of the night, disappearing into the base line, it was amazing!
Well, it is strange, even bizarre, that you can find that same essence during the day via Zumba sans strobe lights, alcohol/drugs and hot men (well, every now and then a guy will pop into Zumba) but it goes back to that idea of transcendence again … you are hyper aware but you also lose yourself. Ultimately, it’s just you and the music. Ironically, what I was seeking when I was young was something I already possessed; I just didn’t know it then. But I know it now. And Z Club NY helped me realize that.
How did you come across Z Club NY and Zumba in general? What is your favorite part about Z Club NY?
Honestly, I first thought Zumba was a silly, housewife exercise fad. But one warm summer night, I was in the country with my daughter at the local youth center. The sweet beats of J. Lo led me right into a class. I peeked in saw all these ladies, young and old, dancing their asses off and I was like, “Whaaaa? Where do I sign up??” It was like the scene in Footloose when Ren sneaks his friends to a dance club for the first time and they all go crazy? That’s what I felt like :) Nicole Muscara, was the instructor. She’s amazing and I still take her classes when I’m out of the city.
Returning to NYC after a summer of upstate Zumba, I suffered serious withdrawal until I found Z Club NY. They offer unlimited classes, a full schedule, and classes at all hours and multiple locations – it is perfection!
Which classes / instructors are your favorites? Why?
Irina Peschan ~ Goddess! Irina is gorgeous on the inside and out and it shines through her in classes. You get the sense she wants to bring out the BEST in each student. She stops to explain choreography from time to time, which is sooooo helpful and makes you feel confidant. She’s also silly and goofy. Then she pulls out her African Dance moves and you are like DAMN look at this tiny girl gooooo. Irina has an interesting way of inhabiting her body. You find yourself moving (or trying to move) in ways that are really surprising. Her class is really challenging but that is what makes it fun.
Emily Naim ~ Gangsta! Oh, Emily, I love her class soooo much. Her class is like an urban dance movie, club like and INTENSE. She’s super hip hop, Latin and really fast. She’s teeny tiny and with the most amazing abs you have ever seen and full of badass attitude. Emily’s Sunday night class is the perfect way to wind down your weekend. The outer gym is empty and quiet while you jam out. At the cool down she flicks off the lights into darkness and you are dripping in sweat, the cityscape sparkles outside the window and you are like “Yessssssss, this is life.” If Irina’s class is about loving yourself, Emily is about laying it out ~ but not for others but for yourself. F*%k ‘em all, just shake your ass.
Jamie Drye ~ Every Dance Genre in One Hour Genius! I love this man! Jamie is an amazing dancer, full of contagious positive energy. He’ll take you through salsa, African, hip hop, some Harry Belafonte moves, Cuban style, I don’t know the names for all of his genres but they are super fun. The genre thing is really important in Zumba because you’ll move from swing to hip hop, you usually don’t know what’s coming but it is all so much fun.
Xavier Marzan ~ Latin Travolta! How to explain Xavier? Hmmmmm. If a young John Travolta met dirty dancing Patrick Swayze at a bar, picked up Fred Astaire on the way home and then all morphed with Jennifer Lopez, Xavier would have popped out as their love child. Xavier has a classical ballet background with all these great Latin moves so his class really feels like you are dancing in PR or discoing it up in 70’s NYC. Xavier focuses on isolating your abs and hips. As a result, it really opens your hips and is low impact on the knees. Plus, he’s just silly and fun.
Edmee Cherdieu d’Alexis ~ Party Girl! Edmee is island beauty incarnate. She’s from the island of French Guadaloupe and carries Caribbean beauty and sensuality with every move. Her class feels like play, pure and simple. She loves dance and you feel it as she takes you through 90’s hip-hop to Bob Fosse moves, to Tina Turner and Beyoncé. Her energy is fun and infectious. Edmee will often end class with a cool down and abdominal work on a mat. As owner of Z Club NY and mother of two gorgeous children she is an all around inspiring lady.
What is something unique about yourself that you’d like to share?
I’m a tarot card reader/writer/teacher. That means I work with the power, structure and symbolic virtue of Tarot cards and the occult to make sense of life; of past, present and future. I have a new book coming out in May, 365 Tarot Spreads (http://www.llewellyn.com/product.php?ean=9780738740386) in which I’ve created a different Tarot spread for each day of the year. If you have ever been curious about reading tarot cards for yourself or others, I recommend my book Tarot Diva (http://www.amazon.com/Tarot-Diva-Intuition-Glamourize-Fabulousity/dp/0738726044) which explains how to use tarot cards. I’d encourage you to get in touch with your magic, no matter what or how, every day of your life.