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!