Everybody Dance Now: Laci Chisholm
Born in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Laci Chisholm has been dancing nearly as long as she has been walking. A gifted and outgoing child, Laci’s desire to express herself has driven her passion for dance and given her a remarkable creative outlet. Laci studied dance intensely throughout her adolescence perfecting her craft and developing her ability to share the skill of dance with others. With a strong performance background Laci has studied several genres of dance including Tap, Jazz, Haitian, and Hip-Hop. While attaining her undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Laci never lost her zeal for dancing. She was the principal dancer of Opeyo, her college’s Hip-Hop dance team. In addition to performing with her collegiate dance troupe, Laci took a serious interest in sharing her love of dance with others. She nobly founded an after school hip-hop dance class for students at a local community center due to a lack of resources in the community. Moving to New York in the summer of 2006 to pursue her dreams of becoming a professional dancer, Laci studied for a year with the Hip Hop Dance Conservatory and has performed at the legendary Apollo Theater and on the Rachael Ray Show. Though she loves to perform, Laci found her calling in education, receiving her Masters of Science in Education from Hunter College and has spent most of her career in that field, though dance was never far from her heart.
How has fitness played a role in your everyday life?
Although I’ve been dancing since the age of 4 and teaching since the age of 16, I didn’t seriously get into “fitness” until I moved to New York City in 2006. I studied dance at the Hip Hop Dance Conservatory and part of rehearsals consisted of a 1 hour bootcamp. I had never been physically challenged that much in my life and it was at that point I realized I was out of shape. Even though I was a dancer, I wasn’t physically fit. When I began to see the change in my body from the exercises we were doing, I loved the results and wanted to get serious about health and fitness. Pressures from my full time job and attending grad school pulled me away from the dance world significantly, but I knew at some point I’d return. In addition to participating in dance and fitness classes more frequently, I began rehearsing and performing with a Haitian dance troupe called Kriye Bode and joined the Shape Up NYC Instructor program to help prepare me to take the national group fitness certification exam. I’ve always wanted to own my own dance studio, and the time felt right. So in terms of my workout schedule, I currently teach 4 Zumba classes a week and I take 1-2 additional dance or fitness classes a week. Although I love to teach dance classes, I also enjoy being the student!
How did you end up teaching Zumba?
When I took my first Zumba class, I knew I wanted to start teaching dance again. The music and the energy of the class ignited a fire in me and I felt amazing! When I participated in the Shape Up NYC Program, I decided I wanted to teach Zumba as part of my internship so I signed up to become a licensed Zumba instructor. I began teaching classes at the St. John’s Parks & Recreation Center in Brooklyn, NY. In addition, I began teaching classes with a friend from college. We taught classes a couple of nights a week. St. John’s hired me to teach classes at the end of my internship and I continued teaching there as well as another recreation center in Williamsburg – Metropolitan. I loved teaching classes and decided to really go full force with pursuing my dreams of owning my own business.
What does your diet look like?
I’m still working on it, but I’ve gotten much better than I used to be; especially when I lived in North Carolina. I was 30 lbs heavier! I try to drink as much water as possible. I limit the amount of fried food, bread, pasta, and rice I eat each week. I try to eat 5 meals a day – breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, and dinner.
Tell me a little about Fit 4 Dance and how you were able to build this thriving business?
It’s been a year and a ½ full of excitement and challenges. I’m still working on building my brand and can’t wait until I’m able to be able to pursue this as my full time job. Zumba jump started me to become more serious about my health. I’m blessed to be able to share this gift with others who enjoy dance. My classes are appropriate for people of all levels, shapes, and sizes. I provide classes for those that don’t necessarily love working out, but like to dance (in public or around the house!); for those that just need that extra boost to get them moving; for those former dancers who’ve been out of the dance scene for a while and looking to ease back in, for those who need to become more active because their doctors have warned them of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, etc. My goal is to get people moving and for them to enjoy doing it. I tailor my classes to give students a full body workout. The music is good- you feel like you’re in a party. No judgments. Just dancing and moving and enjoying life. I enjoy teaching the class just as much as my students enjoy taking it. They give me life. I also have a supportive network of family and friends.
What are the top three songs in your favorite playlist?
This is so hard; I love all of my songs. I guess, I’ll choose these three.
We all have a vice, what are yours?
Sweet Tea & Krispy Kreme Donuts
How do you stay motivated?
Looking at pictures of my old self helps. You don’t realize how many extra pounds you’re carrying until you lose them. You look better and you feel better. And you realize you can do it. It is possible. And you enjoy life more.
If you could use two words to describe Zumba what would they be?
Exhilarating and Effective
There is a scale free movement hitting the fitness world what are your thoughts on it?
I haven’t heard of this phrase. If this mean, not standing on the scale anymore, then yes! I’m a part of that movement. I own a scale, but I can’t tell you the last time I stepped on it. I can usually gauge how I’m doing based on how my clothes fit. Everyone loses weight at different rates, just like everyone gains weight at different rates. Our bodies are all different. When I was actively trying to lose weight, I didn’t get on the scale. It took me a full year to really drop all of the weight I wanted to and actually be confident I could keep it off. I was intentional about working out each week and making those changes in my diet. After doing it consistently for a year, my metabolism increased and working out became a regular part of my routine. I think it’s more motivating that way. People can get bogged down with the numbers on a scale and not praise their efforts. Sometimes this will send you into a deeper funk and cause you to eat even more. So yes, put the scale away and just work at it.
Where can we join you to shake our groove thangs?!
I hope to shake it with all of you very soon!
Please visit Laci’s website for the most up to date schedule & to sign up for class www.fit4dancenyc.com/schedule
Laci is a certified Zumba instructor, a graduate of the Shape-Up NYC Instructor Training Program, as well as a current member of Kriye Bode, Haitian Dance performance troupe. Laci truly believes that dance has the ability to elevate the spirit, focus the mind, and center the body. This belief is evident in her high-energy classes where her infectious smile and encouraging words will almost make you forget you’re even exercising.