Saturday, August 4, 2012

In the Studio

The New Studio
First Class at the New Studio
Six weeks ago, the seemingly impossible happened. With the help of our generous donors, unfailingly loyal participants, and supportive friends and family, we opened the doors of the Dancing Lotus Fitness Wellness Studio. The Studio has been a dream for so long, it took quite a while for the reality of it to sink in. Yet now it feels like the place that was always meant for the Dancing Lotus Family. Our Opening Weekend June 15-17 was a great success. We saw so many members of the Dancing Lotus crew, as well as community members who had never been to a class before. It was only a matter of day before we started hearing that the studio already felt like home! In the weeks since, we've seen incredible growth in all of our classes. The Community seems to be positively buzzing about the Studio! We've had so many people walk in just to see what all the action is about, had a write up in the local paper, and have had a good number of new individuals join our classes. The Dancing Lotus family has been as welcoming as ever to these new participants, and we hope they feel just as home as the rest of the Family! In addition to many more participants, the classes have a new feel now that we're in a home of our own. Everyone seems even better connected, and a little more free to let loose. Our ZUMBA classes are full of amazing energy, our yoga classes brimming with inspiration, and we've seen new people pick up our hoops!

Erica, Meriah, and Jamie outside the Studio
The Dancing Lotus Instructor Team has grown as well, welcoming Jamie and Erica, who were both licensed to teach ZUMBA Fitness in recent months. Jamie and Erica have been working very hard to become the great instructors that the Dancing Lotus Family deserves! Our classes have had even more energy as the Instructor Team has brought new songs and choreography and a new energy to the studio. Next week, Jamie will be leading her first solo classes as Meriah heads to her third attendance of the annual ZUMBA Instructors Convention. This year will be the first she's not had to cancel ZUMBA classes for, and Erica will be joining her at Convention so that the two can bring back twice as much inspiration for our Dancing Lotus Fitness classes.

We're so blown away by the incredible generosity that was manifested in the effort to open the Studio. We can't express enough gratitude for the outpouring of support, and the belief in this shared vision that made this dream a reality. We hope to continue to make Dancing Lotus Fitness Wellness Studio everything that we know it can be, and create a welcoming, sustainable home for fun & unique wellness in the Community for many years to come. Thank you!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Every Little Bit

A couple of weeks into the Studio campaign, I got a comment on our IndieGoGo site. The comment was from someone trying to promote their own business to help small businesses grow. They pointed to the hundreds of dollars we'd raised at that point and basically said: "Look how far you are from your goal! Campaigns like this will never work because people don't want to give money to people who are trying to make money." I was taken aback and deleted their comment. I took them time to approach them after I'd had time to calm down. I told them that if they chose to look at it that way, that was their choice, but that to me, our campaign had already made a big difference! As a matter of fact, it was the funds that had already been disbursed to us from our IndieGoGo campaign that allowed us to put an offer in on the studio building. Sure, we hadn't reached our funding goal, but it was enough to helps us take some "last resort" measures and push us over the edge.

What this person may not realize is that campaigns like ours are about more than just building a business that makes money. It's about helping people fulfill their dreams. Helping small businesses is allowing parents to spend more time with their kids, it's providing new services, it's helping small towns to be more vibrant, and creating opportunities not just for business owners but families and community members. In the case of Dancing Lotus Fitness, it's promoting health care in a new and exciting way. It's boosting people's self esteem--helping them to realize not only how beautiful they are but how worthy they are as individuals. Dancing Lotus reminds people not to forget the incredible importance of taking care of themselves--mind and body--as much as they take care of others. This studio is not just about helping a small business get off the ground, it's about helping the magic of Dancing Lotus truly blossom.

When I started the IndieGoGo campaign, I made the minimum perk $25. As a non-profit consultant who has been to fundraising seminars galore, I've hard many times to make that the minimum donation so that people think about giving a higher amount. We've had many generous donations at that $25 mark as well as above and below. Now I'm feeling inspired about the grassroots nature of this campaign, and want to prove that every donation makes a difference. Even if someone can't give $25, they may be able to give $5, and I want folks to understand that that does indeed make an impact. We do need a considerable amount of money to be able to get in the doors of a studio. Even with the opportunity to rent, we will need approximately $4,000-$5,000 just to get floors and equipment into the studio. Every dollar gets us closer to that goal. So even though people have been able to give whatever amount they've wanted from the beginning, I created an "Every Little Bit Club" Perk at the $5 level. Part of what we've learned through the years since Dancing Lotus Fitness had it's first class is that this is something that people need, love, and believe in. The Every Little Bit club is designed to show the heart and the roots of Dancing Lotus Fitness. It only makes sense that the Dancing Lotus Fitness Studio should be built the same way we've built our business thus far--one person at a time. It's the people that make Dancing Lotus what it is. Thanks so much to everyone who is a part of that.

To join the "Every Little Bit" Club or give at any amount to support the Dancing Lotus Fitness studio, please visit our IndieGoGo page. Thank you!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Studio Update

Greetings, Dancing Lotus Family! I wanted you all to be the first to hear the update on our quest to open the Dancing Lotus Fitness Studio. Most of you know that we had a specific building in mind to purchase. We have been working very hard to raise enough money and work with financial institutions to find a way to get a loan together so that we could make an offer on the building. This week, through your donations, some creative financing, pooling every penny, and the incredible support of a local credit union, we were able to submit an offer. Unfortunately, we hadn't raised the money in time, and we found out yesterday that we had lost the building to a higher cash offer.

We are certainly disappointed about this development, but it will not slow our mission to find a home for the Dancing Lotus Family. We are going to be renewing our search for a possible purchase or rental and moving full steam ahead with finding that new space.

In the meantime, we will continue to work to raise money towards opening the studio so that when another opportunity arises, we'll be in a better position to move forward. Even if we find a space to rent there will still be considerable cost including installing floors and all of the basics to get the studio up and running. Our offer on the building this week would not have been possible without the donations we have received through the IndieGoGo campaign. We are very excited that we have been able to raise nearly $1,100 in the first three weeks, and we're confident that we'll be able to continue to raise funds so that as soon as we find the right space, we can move on it and get Dancing Lotus situated in it's new home! As you all know, this is about more than a business venture, it is about creating a home for all of us to take care of ourselves--mind and body. It's a place for wellness to sink roots in the community and grow.

I want to thank everyone who has been so supportive in so many ways throughout this journey. I feel very blessed that we were able to take a position to even get a foot in the door before that particular route closed. This is just a bump in the road. The Dancing Lotus Fitness Studio will be open before we know it! Thank you!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Why A Studio?

The idea of someday having a Wellness Studio has flitted in and out of my thoughts since I first started my own classes, but it wasn't until 2011 that I got serious about the possibility. It was the past six months, as our classes really took off, that showed the need for our own space. We have relatively minimal needs for most of our classes--smooth flooring and plenty of space, and a comfortable atmosphere. These requirements are easier said than found.

We currently offer classes mainly at two community facilities: one in Johnson Creek, and one in Lake Mills.

Our space in Johnson Creek is relatively ideal. The Johnson Creek Community Center is a beautiful facility that was built relatively recently. (This is the facility where our professional photo shoot took place last year, as featured in this entry!) The main room is surrounded by windows and has excellent wood flooring. The facility has excellent climate control and works very well for our classes. One problem we've encountered with the Community Center is simply that we're running out of room. Our classes are reaching 25-30 people some weeks, and it can be pretty close quarters in there. Another issue is that in the summer, the baseball spectators are situated right at one of the walls of windows that makes up one side of the room. This doesn't exactly allow for a feeling of security and privacy during our classes. In fact, we tend to have to have a special playlist for our summer classes at the Community Center that eliminates some of our more common moves in Zumba Fitness classes--not an east task! Lastly, because of our rental agreement (which works great most of the time), anytime another group pays to rent the center, they take priority and we have to cancel our classes. We normally have plenty of notice for this and are able to notify our students, but it is not an ideal arrangement. Overall, we love having classes at the Community Center and hope that opening the Dancing Lotus Studio will take care of the crowding issues, and that we can continue to offer some classes there. We are aware that we are the main provider of fitness classes to the Johnson Creek community, and have no wish to end our offerings there.

Rock Lake Activity Center is our home in Lake Mills. RLAC is a great non-profit community organization that promotes wellness in the community. They are housed in an old school building, and the main space we use is the school's old gym. The gym provides us with plenty of space, however there is no air conditioning. The floors become very slick with the numbers that our classes see. In the past, it was only an issue in the summer, but since our classes now host 20-30 people in the gym, we've noticed the floors beginning to "sweat" even when the temperature climbs above 30! We also have access to a nice space upstairs that is climate controlled and has new laminate flooring, however the space isn't large enough to accommodate any classes except our smaller morning offerings. The gym simply is not a workable option, particularly as the weather heats up. We've had slips and falls in the past, and as our numbers increase we don't want to have to wait for an injury to make a move. Lastly, the great success of the RLAC in the community means a hectic schedule and fewer options for class expansion. We find ourselves challenged as activities overlap: blocking basketballs from hitting our stereo equipment, having people walk through our yoga classes, and having a children's tapdance class wrapping up while we try to start our quiet evening yoga practice. While RLAC is a fantastic community facility, it's not ideal for Dancing Lotus.

With both of these spaces we deal with the need to adjust our schedule to what the facility has open and available for us to use. We would love, for instance, to offer a Monday morning class, but there is nowhere we can currently hold one. The opening of the studio will allow us to expand our schedule and adjust it to our student's needs, providing better access to our classes.

The building we have in mind for the studio is located in Lake Mills. This makes sense not only because we offer the majority of our classes there now, but because of the higher population density there. There's also the plain and simple fact that the building that would work so well for the studio is there--in a great location within Lake Mills. The building we are hoping for even has an outdoor area with privacy fencing that would allow us to have some class offerings outside while still offering a secure environment.

The plan for the Studio is one large room with great laminate floors to provide a safe environment for all of our classes. The main space at the Dancing Lotus studio will have plenty of natural light, but windows won't allow for public viewing of classes from the outside, which means our students can relax and let go. The studio will have a better sound system than the ones that we currently shuttle back and forth between locations. Having a permanent location will allow us to provide better equipment (including yoga mats and hoops since those items will not need to be transported from location to location). We will be able to provide a bathroom with a shower so that participants can go straight to work after their workout. The studio will also allow us to expand our offering of workshops, special events, and provide a wider variety of services. One of our goals is to take advantage of a kitchen area in the lower level of the studio that would allow us to do healthy food tasting events, cooking classes, etc.

Overall, the vision for the Dancing Lotus Fitness Wellness Studio is truly one of providing a home for the Dancing Lotus Fitness family. We are unspeakably excited about the possibilities it will open up as we work to provide opportunities for our students to find more health and happiness in their lives.

Thank you for your support of the Dancing Lotus Studio. Every donation to our campaign gets us closer to opening our doors.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


When I first became a licensed ZUMBA Fitness instructor, I wasn't sure I would ever even have the courage to teach a class. I went through the training because I dreamt of providing a quality fitness class that would make people excited about getting healthy. In ZUMBA classes, I saw the potential for people to feel good about themselves--the potential to realize that we are beautiful in our own skin, that we deserve to take time to take care of ourselves. I don't think I'll ever forget the moment when I had finished setting up for my first class, and suddenly realized that no one might show up. I had a shock of doubt about what I was doing. In the beginning, I taught plenty of one or two person classes, and even just packed up and went home when no one showed. I chose to keep teaching for the people who came though, and dedicated myself to continuing training to provide quality classes. Eventually my vision started to become a reality. More people started coming to class, and bringing their friends, and soon we were seeing numbers in our classes that far exceeded my first vision.

As more people started taking our ZUMBA classes, I started hearing the words I'd dreamed of, like this feedback from one of my participants: "I used to tell people I was destined to be overweight for the rest of my life because I love to eat/cook and I hate to exercise. I still love to eat- but now I love to sweat. It's hard to not smile through an entire class and I can't believe I've found something I 'crave'! The best part is being a role model for my daughters-that exercise is FUN!" I realized that we were ready to start offering new options for participants. I began to expand my training, and within two years was offering ZUMBA Toning classes, ZUMBATOMIC classes for kids, PiYo for those looking for a class to push themselves, Hoop Dance to encourage playfulness and creativity, and Yoga in various formats to give my participants the chance to experience more ways to care for themselves.

That first vision, of a class or two a week with a few people feeling good about taking care of themselves, has grown into sixteen classes a week with ten, twenty--sometimes even more than thirty people packed in to them! The need in the community for that first dream has driven Dancing Lotus Fitness to where it is today, and brought us to where we're ready for Dancing Lotus to have it's own home. I know that the Dancing Lotus studio will mean even harder work and dedication, but I am ready for that challenge, and excited about what the Studio will mean for the continuing vision of Dancing Lotus. There are moments when I look out at all of the smiling, sweaty people in front of me, and I'm shocked just like that first day when I realized no one might show up, but this time it's amazement at the beauty of what we've created--the spirit of each class--that takes my breath away. I can't wait to see that spirit carry us to the next level.

If you would like to help make the Dancing Lotus Fitness studio a reality, please consider voting for us in the American Family Dreams Contest, and contributing directly to our Capital Campaign on IndieGoGo. Asking your friends to lend their support is one of the best ways you can help us to succeed. Thank you!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Zumba Fitness Convention 2011 Wrapup

Convention always seems to fly by impossibly fast. Day 3 kicked off with getting to attend a live class with Beto for the taping of our next Zumba Instructor Network (ZIN) choreography video. It was very enjoyable. I loved getting to rehearse the songs multiple times before filming--I think I'll be able to incorporate many of them very quickly once we get the music. Partway through the class, Beto surprised us with a visit from Wyclef! We got to film part of the video for Wyclef's Survivor song. Then he busted out "Hips Don't Lie" for us. As if that wasn't enough, Beto brought one of the Zumba music producers, who is also a very talented singer, out on stage. He asked Wyclef, the producer, Pepper Vaughn, and salsa king Walter to improv for us. Soon there was the most incredible music as Walter and Pepper provided beat box while Wyclef and the producer took turns rapping and singing with riffs on "No Woman No Cry" as hundreds of us freestyle danced to their creation. It was one of those moments that would have made the convention worth it in and of itself. My face ached from smiling so much. After the taping I had the most wonderful session on Salsa and Merengue. I was exhausted but Walter and the phenomenal crew made me give more to that master class than I've ever given as a student.

I was very happy to have the "Shake your Asana" yoga class after that with Rob Glick and Kimberly Spreen-Glick. It was
much needed.

The final day of the convention brought a preview of Zumba Fitness' new program: Sentao. It has a toning focus and uses chairs. Very interesting! My last session was Reggaeton Rebellion. It was great to learn more about Reggaeton's history and get some new flavors. I had never had a class with Loretta Bates before, and really enjoyed her instructing.

I'm flying home listening to all kinds of new songs, dozens of choreo ideas buzzing through my head, anxious to bring some Convention energy to my students...and looking forward to Convention 2012!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:International Dr,Orlando,United States

Friday, July 8, 2011

Convention 2011, Day 2

Day 2 has been phenomenal! The Fitness Concert this morning was amazing. In addition to the Zumba celebs, we had some awesome guest appearances. Pitbull showed up for a pre-concert preview of "Pause" and Wyclef had a beautiful moving appearance as well.

My students will not be surprised to learn that the Bollywood and Bhangra class was my absolute favorite so far. The presenters did such a good job of relating the dances' relation to culture and helping us experience the spirit of the dance.

Next I was transported to Africa for another cultural and spiritual immersion. The joy in the classes today has been overwhelming. There is nothing like having so many people in one place surrender themselves to the moving music and dance of cultures from around the globe.

I'm more grateful than ever to have Zumba in my life!

Tonight is the Pitbull concert--wish you ALL could be there!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Universal Blvd,Orlando,United States