Growing up, the last thing we all wanted to hear was the phrase, “Mother knows best.” Even though it was usually true, it was pretty much always annoying.
For Kass Martin, it was no different. Kass’s mother had been a fitness instructor for Kass’s entire life, and there was no way she was going to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Kass had her life all planned out; her husband was going to be a dentist, and she was going to work at home as a full-time mom. The perfect traditional 1950’s family.
Belief Grows into Being Fearless
Only it’s not the 1950’s and life doesn’t always play out the way we think it should. Kass stated, “I had this sort of uneasiness in my soul. I felt like I was supposed to be doing something, but I wasn’t.” Her mother suggested she should look into being a group fitness instructor. “I started teaching as a way to push myself to do something . . . I had to really struggle with my insecurities and feelings of failure to even start.” Turns out Kass’s mom did know best because that seemingly small decision to follow in her mother’s footsteps set the stage for a life Kass would never have imagined – even in her wildest dreams.
While teaching, Kass fell in love with the idea of personal growth, “Once I started, something clicked. Up to that point, I was really lacking ambition and confidence and belief in myself. One little step at a time, one little class at a time, and I just tricked myself into believing in myself, and that made all the difference. Yeah, it was only within a fitness class, but that was the seed I needed to see that belief grows into being fearless when it came to other opportunities.”
When an opportunity to be a choreography specialist, or Zumba Jamber, presented itself, Kass went for it and got it! With her husband working from home, (he’d decided that playing in people’s mouths while wielding implements of torture was not the career path for him), Kass was able to attend training in Orlando, Florida. Genuinely wanting to know more, Kass roamed the halls of the convention center asking questions like, “Who’s in charge here? How does this work? How is it that I walk into a class and this instructor is leading 500 people and each one of those people feels connected and engaged—feels seen? How do I do that?”
Asking those questions in a hallway full of strangers shined a spotlight on Kass Martin. Her ‘dreams’ of that 1950’s traditional life were about to get pretty wild! Anyone got some Salsa or Meringue background music? Because things for Kass were starting to heat up and move fast!
Come for Connection
Unbeknownst to Kass, a few of Zumba’s head honcho’s were roaming the halls too, and before Kass could Meringue March back to the masses, she found herself speaking with the CEO and CMO. “Somewhere along the line, I ended up talking to someone who was putting together testimonials for the next set of DVD’s,” Kass explains. “I told my little success story of how I’d lost some weight with Zumba, but it didn’t matter about the weight I’d lost, because I gained confidence and a new social circle and a new belief in myself . . . somehow that little conversation lead me to auditioning for the new DVD’s.”
The following year Kass was asked to audition for QVC. She said, “I was like, ‘Whoa, okay’ . . . there were 100 million reasons why that was way out of my league, but I didn’t let my fear get in the way. Someone had said that QVC was like talking to a neighbor and you’re just telling them about this fun workout and I was like, I can be a neighbor; I can do that, I thought you needed a professional on that screen.”
Kass’s spunky, fun, can-do attitude is infectious and is why today she is known all over the world as the face of Zumba. She has been a guest on The Today Show, The View, The Wendy Williams Show, Steve Harvey, So You Think You Can Dance, The Biggest Loser, and Extreme Weight Loss— just to name a few, as the Zumba spokeswoman. She also travels the world as a guest presenter, instructor, and teacher.
When Kass trains new Zumba instructors, she tells them, “The moves will come, but that feeling of what you are providing people in that hour makes all the difference. If you realize that they are coming for connection, then you – as you’re teaching – connect with them. You look at them. You encourage them. That may be the only place that they have somebody looking at them giving them a thumbs up, like hey good job, I see you. In a world where we’re not very connected on a deep level, we’re connecting here. It’s not just on a personal message or Instagram or Face Book; we’re here in the flesh connecting.”
An Hour of Being Free
Zumba is about connection, encouragement, and acceptance. It’s a place where everyone, regardless of age, race, religion, gender, or body mass, can get together and feel united. You can hear the excitement in Kass’s voice as she shares, “If you were to ask any of my students what their favorite thing about Zumba is, or why they do Zumba, they’re not going to say, ‘because of calories burned’, even though you can burn a ton of calories. They’re always going to say it’s for an emotional reason; to see their friends, because it’s exciting and fun, because for one hour they can forget about their depression or anxiety, or whatever their struggles, they can let loose and be free.”
What would June Cleaver say about all these women and men donning their brightly colored spandex and dancing like no one’s watching? My guess – she’d drop the laundry basket and join in. For those who disagree, that’s okay – Kass has had her fair share of naysayers too. “I learned that I could spend a lot of time trying to do things exactly like everyone else, or I can try and do the best that I can do in the way I know how. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that; your thoughts create how you feel and how you feel creates your actions and, ultimately, your path of life.”
By refusing to let her fears and insecurities run footloose and fancy-free, Kass’s path in life lead her to her ‘perfect traditional family.’ Kass says it best: “You’re the only person that truly knows what and who you are, and that’s all you need to worry about.”
Well, that and listening to your mom.
Visit kassmartin.com to learn more.
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