Growing up, fitness was something reserved for gym class at school – and it wasn’t fun. “Gym” meant running laps and doing exercises and activities I had neither the strength, stamina, nor the coordination to do. I have always enjoyed music and dancing. I’m not formally trained, but whenever I attend a party with good music, there is a 100% chance I will be on the dance floor until that party is over.
When I graduated, I was done with fitness. A few years later, I discovered group fitness classes at work, and started with aerobics. At first, the appeal of the class wasn’t the workout, but rather the music! Every class was a party – the dancing came in the form of the steps you would do with the different songs. An added bonus was the cardio endurance and strength I gained. Eventually I worked up to taking step, multi-step, spin, and strength classes. Later still, I found new challenges in running and taking aerial classes like pole dance and lyra.
Fast forward to 2015 when, while attending a pole class, a classmate (fellow instructor Laina VanDyke) volunteered to lead a warm-up, doing a dance for something called BollyX. She led us in “Bas Ek Kinng” and immediately I was taken back to fun memories of dancing the night away with friends at Diwali parties. I. Was. Hooked. I went on to earn my BollyX certification in September and started teaching in January 2016.
Before teaching my first class, I was extremely nervous and self-conscious. Frankly, I felt like I didn’t “look” like a fitness instructor. So, I put on my BOLD FACE, focused on dancing to the music I loved, and got through my first class. At the end of that class I was elated because (1) I didn’t die and (2) people were actually smiling and telling me how fun class was.
A few classes in, I realized that I DO look like a fitness instructor. Being a fitness instructor does not mean you have to be a certain height or weight. It means that you have the strength and endurance to lead a class. It means that you have a smile on your face and encouraging word for the people in your class.
Being a BollyX instructor brings me great joy. It puts a huge grin on my face when I see someone get the hang of a step they’ve been struggling with, or when everyone is dancing during the performance with big smiles on their faces.
Empowerment is defined as the process of becoming stronger and more confident. When I think of body empowerment, I think of challenging myself to try new things, and most importantly, learning to love myself just the way I am. To me, it is a journey; something I strive for daily; it’s not about perfection but about being comfortable in my own skin. And, while my fitness may not be where I want it to be, I’m excited to be on the road to getting there.