Later today, I have a ProMatch1 BBQ Picnic to attend to in order to meet new people and do some more networking in hopes of finding a new job. Even though I’ve gotten an interview, the job search doesn’t end there. Anyway.
In reference to ProMatch, one of the things we first did in the New Members meeting earlier was for us to introduce ourselves: our name, our aspiring job position, and talk about the most amazing adventure that we ever had. When it was my turn to introduce myself, the most amazing adventure that I spoke about was last Saturday, 6/8. That was the day that the U-JAM Fitness 3rd Anniversary Party took place at the SCCC.2 Sure, it may sound small compared to all the other members’ backpacking adventures, but just being there for me was an adventure. I’ll explain why.
Several years ago, I was one of those “lost souls” who had been just that— lost. I’ve had financial problems due to my long-time unemployment, plus my chronic health3 wasn’t making things any easier for me that I really needed to motivate myself somehow to get myself back in shape and regain myself once more. It took me forever to go through that rough period until I had this horrid condition that took me to the hospital back in 2011, missing my Christmas Day with family.4 During my hospital days, that’s when I really had to consider getting back in shape with the help of my family and a few friends. I had to change my diet and of course, I had to start getting active again through exercise.
As a member5 at our local sports center, I tried different group classes from simple exercises to toning exercises such as Yoga and Pilates to dance cardios like Zumba and Afro Belly Boogie. They were all fun classes with highly-trained instructors, however I felt like there was something lacking in those classes that made me feel somewhat detached and not become motivated to attend those classes on a regular routine basis. It took me awhile to figure out what was that something that was lacking in those classes until the sports center presented demo classes to be introduced to their lineup of group exercises. One of them, of course, is U-JAM Fitness.
I have heard of U-Jam before on FB because majority of my old friends/classmates from the school days6 couldn’t deny the hype and excitement that they have with U-Jam. I became curious because of U-Jam, but because of my unemployment/financial situation at the time that I’ve heard of it, 7 I couldn’t afford purchasing sports club memberships just to attend these classes. I felt blessed when the local sports center8 added U-Jam in to their lineup. I took the 45-minute demo class that December and the energy and the spirit that was brought in by the instructors and by veteran U-Jammers from other sports clubs really surprised me at first. Of course, eventually in the later months when U-Jam was finally added in to the sports club lineup that this same energy and spirit became contagious and I ended up calling out “Hit! Hit!” and “Doubleeee!” when appropriate.
I remembered the week after that demo class when I went to the usual Zumba class. There was one person9 I regularly see in the morning Zumba classes who also took the demo class. I was a bit irked when she stated that she thought the class was “horrible” because it’s “not dance.” She even went on by saying that she had been taking dance lessons for so and so years and she thought the structure and movements were “disorganized.” I wanted to tell her that dance-based group exercise classes are not dance classes in the first place. These types of classes, just like Zumba, exist to motivate people who want to get in shape to make exercise a daily routine by having fun and “disguising” the basic fundamentals of exercise through dance-inspired steps. I wanted to correct her that she should say “I don’t like this because it’s not my taste,” not “I don’t like this because it’s not dance.”10 I decided to stay quiet out of respect but also muttered at that time to myself: “You don’t have to attend the classes, just don’t talk smack about it in front of others just because you don’t like it.” Moving on.
It wasn’t until around March or April that I finally found the reason why U-Jam is so addictive and why I kept coming back for more. Sure, my body is still on the “out of shape” stage11, but there was definitely a hidden magnetic gem that drew people back in and drew new people to try the class and then stay in the class. What I discovered about U-Jam that other classes lacked12 was the sense of community.
Sure, instructors are always open to speak with their students and vice versa before class and after class, but U-Jam instructors13 actually get their students involved during class. We’re not just talking about the whole “follow my steps and do them” concept here with the instructor up front facing the students. It’s more of like “please come up and dance along with me” where a student or two (or more) may do their routines next to the instructor. As one of the most timid people you’d ever meet who feels overall insecure about herself and her confidence is way too low to show off and stand out, I decide to break out of my own shell, simply because somewhere deep within, I just wanted to get up there and, you know, do my thing. At first, I thought that would be the last time I would be up front, but after I actually had my chance to be up front, I felt that I wanted to get up there when I had the chance. Reason being is because regardless if you’re up there or not, everyone in class would still look at the instructor and focusing more on themselves rather than looking at other people in front of them, next to them, or even the back of them. If you are in a fitness class such as this, it doesn’t matter if your moves aren’t as exact as the ones of the instructor or the person next to you, as long as you are moving. As mentioned before, the moves are dance-based but this is not a dance class.
One of the best parts in the aftermath of a U-Jam class is when the class get to take photos with the instructor, just to show the rest of the U-Jam Nation who’s who and of course, show off the location you represent.14 Through the power of social media15, a community is built and it continues to grow and grow. This is one of the few things that I especially appreciate because I know that I’m not alone there and that there are others who have similar goals as I do as well as our expectations from the classes. In short, I finally found a fitness program where I feel like I truly belong there. Plus, I sort of discovered that even geeky nerdettes such as myself do have swag. I’m not there yet, but I can feel it. Somewhere. Does that sound weird coming from me? LOL.
As I mentioned during my new members meeting at ProMatch, I attended the 3rd Anniversary Party for U-Jam Fitness at the SCCC last Saturday (6/8). It was the very first time that I got to work out with more U-Jammers around the nation (if not the world) and I got to meet new U-Jammers and reunite with old friends. I also got to meet other instructors representing different locations all around, as well as the creators/founders of the program. It was huge, it was seriously off the hook, and I think that you should at least attend one of their future anniversary parties to describe the actual feeling of being in there. I’m not gonna tell you the details regarding the anniversary party because words aren’t enough to describe the event. There are videos of the party on YouTube and I have some photos of the event as well, posted on my FB and on Instagram.16
Or you can watch the hypin’ opening number by the beautiful Susy C. and the swaggin’ instructors!
I know, this is more like rambling than an organized testament, but that’s the beauty of having your own blog. You have the freedom to write however you want to write. After all, we’re only human and we simply just want to get our message across to the masses without being too complicated or have the need to show off your wordplay to impress the masses. To conclude, I would like to extend my thanks to the swag-tastic couple, Susy C. and DJ Makaio, for creating and presenting U-Jam to the fitness-deprived nerdettes like me , and to Reggieanne and Fraida and Noreen and Crystal and all other instructors for motivating and expanding U-Jam to the masses. I know that you’re all out there, not just to get people to start being active again or simply get in to the fundamentals of urban moves, but you’re also out there to build character in each of us.
Today, I know that most of the people who take classes at UCSC are still what most people are when they work out: take workout classes and then leave. Building a fitness community takes a lot from both the instructor and from the students. Most of the students are more likely to be shy and introverted people17 and as you know, very private people. Sure, they would say hello and thank you to the instructor for the awesome class, but that was it. When that happens, this is where the instructor does his/her part by reaching out to the students more. Get to know them, their goals in health and fitness, and everything. It doesn’t have to be in one setting, but it does take gradual steps and time for the connection to be created between instructor and student. It brings me back during my college days when I was taking Taekwondo18 when I made close connections with my sabumnim19 and my sanbaenim seniors20. It took me about three weeks to create those connections with them, simply because I was too shy and introverted. I just simply do what the masters teach me and I simply say thank you, just like what most people would do if they were working out in a group setting. It’s not like that at all. You do build relationships with others and at the same time, building up your character.
I learned some of that in Taekwondo some 10+ years ago, but lost it when I graduated and started working full-time. U-Jam simply brought that aspect back to me, most especially after I attended their anniversary party for the first time.
I’m not just a struggling unemployed nerdette anymore who just sits on her butt looking through her laptop for job openings21, working on digital art or any of her sites, or even writing countless fanfics, original fics, and random blurbs.22 U-Jam helped me discover a new character trait added to my existing characteristics, and with this brand-new confidence and positivity, this should help me do networking with the other members of ProMatch and of course, find my way to a new job. Of course, once I finally get a new job, I would no longer be active at ProMatch, but U-Jam will always be there for me.
It’s a true honor to be part of the program and I do hope that I can continue for a long period of time. Of course right now, after I get a new job, next thing I would do is buy more sports club memberships just so I can take whatever U-Jam class is out there available with any instructor. I’m not a picky person, but as of now, due to my current situation, I am limited financially. But I’m a lot more positive now than ever, plus I have more energy now and can actually move a lot more without complaining of the muscle cramps or whatever cramps existing out there.
And I’m now on my way out to the BBQ Picnic. Time to do more networking and get myself in to the community. Bringing in your swag is applicable everywhere! 23
On the sidenote...
- professional networking program in the Silicon Valley area sponsored and federally funded by EDD. [↩]
- Santa Clara Convention Center [↩]
- diabetes [↩]
- at least I was discharged and recovered before New Year’s Day… [↩]
- dual membership with Dad [↩]
- middle school… high school… college… [↩]
- I became unemployed back in 2010 and still unemployed today… [↩]
- Union City Sports Center… wait, it’s now the Mark Green Sports Center… my bad… [↩]
- not gonna mention any names here… then again I never really learned this person’s name anyway… [↩]
- on the other hand, I have observed her in Zumba, and even though some of the moves require us to be more “hardcore” and show more attitude like the way you would dance Hip-Hop, she does the opposite by being graceful as if this were a ballet class. Not to be judgmental but obviously she’s one of those classical/contemporary dance snobs who look down on urban street dance altogether. I don’t even wanna think about what she really thinks of the people in the same class as her who are only there to get their workout fix. Hm… [↩]
- although I did lose a few pounds for the last three months but not enough for me to consider it a major progress [↩]
- from my point of view, just to clarify… [↩]
- if you’re wondering, a sweet and beautiful doll named Reggieanne is my instructor-now-friend [↩]
- Unfortunately most of the peeps at the UCSC only go there just to work out and leave. They still don’t understand the concept of a fitness community just yet… either that or they’re camera shy. I’m camera shy too but I feel more comfortable when there’s other people in the picture besides me. [↩]
- mainly FB and Instagram actually [↩]
- Check the social media links on the left column of this site! [↩]
- I know because I’m one of those people. [↩]
- I don’t think I mentioned this before. I *was* a martial artist! Not the MMA kind, but the disciplined kind. [↩]
- For all you K-Pop/Korean pop culture enthusiasts— sabumnim means teacher, which is pretty much equivalent to the Japanese sensei [↩]
- Sanbaenim means senior/upperclassman, equivalent to the Japanese sempai/senpai. In this case, it’s the blackbelt students [↩]
- which hasn’t really gotten me anywhere to be honest [↩]
- Not that I’m there the entire day. I do stand up, take a walk, still go to the sports center for the morning classes, etc. [↩]
- bad closing statement, I know. [↩]