Does the room where you take Zumba have mirrors? Does your instructor face you during class or not? This is a recurring issue among Zumba instructors and most people (both instructors and participants) have a preference one way or another.
When an instructor faces the mirror, this makes it easier to pick up footwork– especially when you can see both yourself and the instructor. Then you can compare what you are doing to what he or she is doing. This is even more significant when doing a toning move (such as a lunge) where form is important safety’s sake.
I notice that when I face the class, there may be more confusion over the footwork, especially in steps where there’s a front/back element in addition to right/left, e.g. basic salsa (right foot goes back, left foot goes front) or during turns. I also have to be more vigilant about ensuring that everyone has proper form when it is pertinent. I usually switch to a left lead so that everyone else can lead on their right. This can be confusing! And for some reason, I forget routines more easily when facing the class.
On the plus side, however, people seem so much less self-conscious when there are no mirrors around. I can be more motivating and project more energy when I’m facing the class, and at the same time, be motivated by you too. It feels more sociable this way.
One bit of advice that has been directed toward Zumba instructors may be valuable to participants as well. Don’t think right/left. Think sides of the room. So if I do a turn towards the windows, then you do a turn towards the windows too. Make sense?