Big surprise in store today. I don’t have a recipe involving nut butter, oats, chocolate, oats, spinach, bananas or uhm…well…that’s all I ever eat.
Instead, I want to share a recipe for success :).
This post is all about my personal recipe for success in becoming an OULA instructor a.k.a. confident in my ability to dance, sing, yell, smile and inspire a group of people through movement, music and community. I am so excited to share the ways this journey has changed my life and been an all around great decision. It was so great of a choice that it is comparable to when I bought a pair of Chaco sandals or when I made the switch from Skippy to natural peanut butter. I know, right? The good stuff.
When I try to think of when and where this beautiful, sweaty, smiling mess all started, I think back to the first time I ever visited Missoula.
In the hot heat of summer before my senior year of high school, my friend Bethany and I came to Missoula for a tennis tournament. At this point in my life, I was 99% positive of two things: that you should never wear a tennis skort without underwear and that I was really great at tennis. So it’s safe to say that it my heart broke a little when I got crushed at my first match in this Missoula tournament.
When I finally finished blubbering after my embarrassing loss, my vision cleared up quite nicely and I thought, “Wow! Maybe it isn’t the end of the world, because this here Missoula place is pretty neat.”
Like a sweaty, middle school girl on her first date, I fell in love fast with Missoula. All it took was that one weekend for me to know that it was where I was meant to be for my college career, and when people asked my why I chose the University of Montana it was hard to explain because I couldn’t quite articulate the magnetic pull of this eclectic city.
I just knew that my heart and soul was incredibly attracted and drawn to Missoula. So kind of like how I am very attracted to Daniel Radcliffe and I can’t explain that either…wow. Is it hot in here? Back to Missoula! Alright, yes, the great food had a lot to do with my instant love (the farmers market, the Good Food store, the awesome local bakeries within biking distance of the college campus, white mint Oreo ice cream at The Big Dipper…drooling on my keyboard). But it was more than just the food (I swear!). There was something magical about Missoula that dared me to come and explore. After two and a half years of college, I fully believe that OULA was one magical part of Missoula that I was meant to find.
Fast forward to my sophomore year of college. I can remember reading the group fitness schedule at my gym, seeing OULA on the schedule and wondering what the heck that was supposed to mean.
OULA….was it a typo for a Hula class?!
No, wait that’s not right, was it a hula hoop class? Gee, I hope so because the lady pictured below sure is having a blast!
Unfortunately I didn’t own a grass skirt or a hula hoop so I stayed away from that strange, typo of a fitness class. Until my sorority sister, Jeni, told me that OULA was not a typo but a dance fitness class where participants danced to fun, sexy, sassy, silly top 40’s songs.
In response I probably said: “OMG what?! I love dance fitness classes! All I listen to is top 40’s hits. Sign me up this instant!” I could not wait to try an OULA class once I figured out it didn’t involve grass skirts or spinning hoops.
I so wish that I had strong memories about the first OULA class I ever took but I do not. And this is coming from the girl who will ask her boyfriend, “Do you remember our first Valentines date five years ago? ME TOO! Do you remember what I was wearing? Oh, well it was that cute pink dress with….” Mmm-hmm I am that girl.
What I can clearly recall, though, is the intense excitement I felt about OULA classes. I was out there boppin’ around with my long uncoordinated limbs, twisting an ankle here and there, trying to drop it like it’s hot and I just couldn’t stop smiling.
OULA intrigued me because I loved how I was exercising and smiling at the same time. I don’t know about you, but I don’t find myself smiling very much in the weight room or sitting on the stationary bike. Unless the song Baby Got Back is blasting through my headphones…then I can’t help but grin regardless of what I’m doing. My point is that before OULA most of my workouts were about smiling after it was over. Ahem, cross country meets ;).
But exercising with OULA was different than a sweaty forty minutes on the bike or running laps around the indoor track like a hamster. I looked forward to everything about OULA…the start, the process in the middle, the end and how I felt afterwards. The combination of a workout that made me smile and laugh plus the fact that I had so much fun doing it made OULA my new addiction.
So now that we know how I found this crazy little program, the next question is how did I transition from obsessed OULA fan to even more obsessed OULA instructor?
Let’s take it back about 8 years when I was in dance classes as a young girl. Here’s a quick summary of this fun time: I was the girl the teacher stuck in the middle of the stage to keep her feet planted firmly still while moving her arms in a circle for the whole song. I don’t know, maybe I was supposed to represent the sun at the center of the universe? That’s kind of cool, right?
While it has been my dream to be a dance fitness instructor of some kind ever since I took my first Zumba class in high school, my experience in dance as a young girl made me very unsure if I was a good enough dancer.
The more OULA classes I took, the more I got exposed to the soul of OULA. And it felt like OULA didn’t really care how ‘good’ of a dancer I was because our instructors always encouraged us to forget about how we looked and to focus on how we felt. Hmm. Well I felt like a million bucks when I danced OULA dances so I started to think that this whole instructor gig might be possible.
Now flash forward to an ordinary Wednesday night, about five months later, in my sorority house.
Jeni, my fellow sorority sister who was an OULA instructor and also a wicked awesome dancer, shocked the heck out of me with the way she reacted to my idea of going through training to become an OULA instructor.
She was ecstatic and so excited that I was thinking about going through training. She genuinely believed in me right from the start and this inspired me to believe in myself.
Now (sorry!) flash forward to the summer of my sophomore year of college. I am a camp counselor at the best place ever, Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp; I am spending my break catching up on some emails and, let’s be honest, indulging in a little Facebook and Pinterest time because that is a rare activity when you spend 85% of your time playing in the dirt with kids.
I check my email and see a new reply from an OULA fitness address.
My stomach tightens and my heart races a little because I now remember how I had emailed the director of community engagement asking when the exact dates of the OULA training in October were.
Although it sounds strange to say since it was only August, my month of October was already booked. I was planning and directing my sororities annual basketball tournament that raises money for our philanthropy so I knew if the OULA training fell on the weekend before or the weekend of the tournament that I have to wait until next year for training.
With sweaty fingers, I clicked to open the email.
October 18, 2013.
The training was set for the weekend after the basketball tournament ended. I couldn’t believe it. At this point I only had forty minutes left in my break so I sprinted back to my cabin, dug out my debit card, ran back to the dining hall, typed in my information and BOOM. I was registered for training and officially on a journey to becoming an OULA fitness instructor.
The rest of the day was awesome. I skipped back to the cabin, I smiled even more than I usually do at campfire worship and I told anyone who had a pulse that I was signed up for the OULA fitness training weekend!!!! ME! I am doing it yes sir I am! No one knew what I was talking about but I didn’t care.
At the end of the summer staff party, I taught the summer staff the only OULA dance I could remember. Kiss You by One Direction. As it turns out, I was forgetting a ton of the moves, the ones I did know I did wrong but none of that mattered. It was so fun to help a large group of people learn a fun dance and to see the joy in their faces as they laughed. I couldn’t wait for October 18, 2013.
And man did it come up fast.
The three day training immersed me in OULA culture. We danced an hour long class every day, we learned about what makes a magnetic instructor, we participated in a Flash mob at a lady GRIZ game, we made new friends, we practiced instructing and, at the end of it all we lead two songs for a small group of fellow trainees and established, experienced instructors. Oh! And the founder of OULA. No biggie, right?
After my training weekend, I had three months to practice and learn and grow to the point where I felt ready to teach and submit a video of my audition class.
I had to put in a lot of work to grow, learn and improve as much as I needed to pass my audition class. There were a few main quotes that got me through it all. Naturally.
The first quote was this:
This experience required me to believe in this idea of having patience in my abilities to evolve.
The next quote was this:
I honestly couldn’t tell you how many times I drove around screaming the lyrics to Ten Thousand Hours by Macklemore in my car during the training period of becoming an instructor. It’s really a miracle I didn’t get pulled over. My experience training for an OULA certification opened my eyes to the power of putting in the work. There was no magic pill, no book I could read, no prayer I could say to grow in some of the ways that I had to. I had to put in the hours and every minute paid off.
And that’s all she wrote friends.
Believing in myself,
Determination and patience,
Practice, sweat, and more practice,
A kind, encouraging support system of friends, family and mentors that wanted to see me reach my goal,
And a whole lot of passion because I was absolutely smitten with the goal I was working towards.
That is my recipe for success in gaining an OULA fitness certification and beyond.
My prayer for everyone reading this is that you too find a goal or cause that is worth fighting for because it makes you feel alive. That you follow the strange, magnetic, mysterious pull of what you love and that you take a risk to fight for something big.
I hope you are surrounded by people who encourage you to see all that you are capable of if you try. May you find the light in your heart that will inspire you to believe in your ability to grow, to be patient with your progress, to humble yourself and soak up all the feedback you can from your mentors and teachers, and to throw all the heart, sweat and soul into your work and practice that you can.
And no matter what you go for, go big. Ooh, and do not forget to wear your underwear if you ever find yourself in a skort. Chafing is highly likely to occur. Hehe.