It was so lovely to interview Brandi Vaughn, whose skill and passion for Zumba has grown along with her fire through Z Club NY. She says, “With the help of Z Club NY, not only have I been able to get in better shape and make positive changes to my personal health and well-being, but I’ve had a blast doing it!”… – by Yali Szulanski for Z Club NY.
How has taking classes with Z Club NY benefited your life?
Taking classes with Z Club NY has been such a blast! Every class gives you the opportunity to catch up with friends and to meet new people who are all there for the same thing, to bust a move!! I always have a great workout, and nothing has been better after a long stressful day and going to dance it all off in class.
What inspires you to succeed in class and in your life?
Being the oldest of 3 siblings has really shaped my life with the knowledge that I have to be role model for my brother and sister. Taking care of my health has always been a focus of mine not only for myself, but also to show them that it is a crucial and important step to take towards your future because what you do now will affect your life decades later. It is a constant reminder that I have in life that keeps me going, and it motivates me to push it in every class to better my health and show them that it can be done.
How has Zumba/Z Club NY supported your health and fitness goals?
Growing up, I was definitely the “thick” girl among all of my friends even though I worked out more than most of them. Sometimes I saw results and sometimes I didn’t, but the results started to stick once I changed my diet and made Zumba a part of my workout regimen. Z Club NY classes have definitely whipped me into shape which helped to build my stamina and endurance, and made such a big impact on my health. Aside from weight loss, recently my doctor told me that I practically no longer have asthma and my blood pressure went from borderline to normal so I’m taking that as a sign to keep doing what I’m doing.
What have you learned about yourself through taking classes at Z Club NY?
I never really knew how much I could enjoy working out until I started taking Zumba/Z Club NY classes. Since I was athletic as a kid, I did a number of different competitive and noncompetitive sports: swimming, martial arts, gymnastics, tennis, horseback riding and more. You name it, I did it, but none of it really stuck with me as an adult. With the help of Z Club NY, not only have I been able to get in better shape and make positive changes to my personal health and well-being, but I’ve had a blast doing it!
How did you come across Z Club NY and Zumba in general?
Dance was something that I did as a kid, but stopped at an early age and didn’t really do again until I found Zumba online and started created my own workouts with different instructors’ Youtube videos when I was away at school. That was a great intro, but nothing compares to taking a Zumba class in person which I started with Z Club NY’s own Jamie Forward who told me about Z Club NY. I decided to go to the Hurricane Sandy Zumbathon because I wanted to be able to help, and I liked that Z Club NY was raising money with a 2 hour Zumba class with 12 different instructors. I had never sweated so much in my life and after that I was hooked and aimed to try as many instructors as I could. The best part about Z Club NY is that there are some many different instructors who add their own swag and flavor that just makes you come back for more.
Which classes/instructors are your favorite? Why?
I’m all about having a good time and breaking a serious sweat while I’m doing it so I take classes regularly with a number of instructors for Zumba. Jamie Forward’s class is great because of her energy and fun routines. I love her choreography and when it’s all said and done, she will get in your face and make you turn up!
Irena Metatiou brings a fierceness that I’m not sure I knew what to do with when I took her first class, but the more I came, the more I liked the challenge of her choreography and the fitness elements that she includes in her classes.
Lashawn gets down to business in every class and gives you a smile while doing it. She works and it’s all about making you give it your all and striking a pose!
Whenever I can, I get to Edmee’s class too because her choreography is great and I love her music mix that includes popular music and my fav, Caribbean music. I’ve also had a great time with Shahidah Ansari, Jamie Drye, Melissa Carias and Sabrina Ursaner. Hope to dance with them some more this year too!
I have to mention the one Z Club NY class that was a game changer for me: 3 words…. Afro Fusion Burn! Before I took Irina Peschan’s class I read the description and watched the Youtube video and figured this class would be tough, but I would be ok because I like African dance and I love my Caribbean music. But in reality, nothing prepared me for that first class. I remember being so exhausted that I sat for 30 minutes afterwards to decompress and realize what I just put myself through. It was tough, but absolutely amazing! I’m definitely an AFB regular now and have to dance with Irina every week. Her class has definitely helped me take my fitness to another level! And like others have said, her smile really does brighten up the room the second that she walks in and you’re ready to go. She’s very patient and will take the time to break down some of the moves in order to correct technique and allow for you to be more comfortable with the moves. She will also get down and dirty, and literally get you on the floor!! I always recommend this class to people and say you have to try it at least once!
What is something unique about yourself that you’d like to share?
With Jamie Forward’s motivation, I actually got certified to become a licensed Zumba instructor a couple a years ago, and after getting a second certification this summer, I got the opportunity to teach last month. I had a blast doing it and I’m so excited to take on new steps in this life called Zumba!