We had the good fortune of connecting with Laci Chisholm and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laci, every day, we about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Even though it had always been my dream to operate my own dance studio, it was a dream that simply remained a wish for many years. In 2009, I found myself extremely unhappy and working a stressful job which left little time for dance. As a result, I developed poor eating habits, became overweight, suffered from high cholesterol, high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, and I always felt stressed. I hated the way I felt and the way I looked. When my doctor recommended medication for my mounting health issues, I decided it was time to make room for what I loved – DANCE; my natural stress reliever! By making time for dance again, I was finally motivated to take control of my health. Realizing how hard it was to find a single facility that offered affordable, effective, fun, quality dance and fitness classes and provided a sense of community, Fit4Dance was born.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
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 African, Jazz, Haitian, Hip-Hop, and Tap. 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 due to a lack of resources in the community. Having had such success in building relationships with children through dance Laci assumed several positions after graduating where she was responsible for choreographing and teaching both competition routines and recital pieces respectively for Cheer America and the Academy for Performing Arts in North Carolina. Laci moved to New York City in the summer of 2006. She studied with the Hip Hop Dance Conservatory for a year 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. She started Fit4Dance in 2014, with the intent of providing fun, challenging, and effective dance fitness classes to beautiful women across New York City. It has been her lifelong dream to operate a dance studio offering a variety of dance + fitness formats that have helped her maintain a healthy, fit, body. Laci decided to open her business to encourage African-American women and children to take charge of their health through exercise, to unify varied groups of people through the common love of dance as the community diversifies, and to uplift and support undeserved communities in need through various charitable projects. By providing quality and affordable dance and fitness instruction in a caring, supportive atmosphere, the community will begin to look at fitness as a pleasant and consistent part of their lifestyle. Fit4Dance. Laci is a certified Zumba instructor, a graduate of the Shape-Up NYC Instructor Training Program, a certified group fitness instructor through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) and American Council on Exercise (ACE). 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! She’s been named Entrepreneur of the Year by the SBA for the state of New York as well as the Women’s Business Outreach Center, selected by American Express and IFundWomen for their 100 for 100 program, and many more awards for her business acumen as well as her incredible work in the community.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If my best friend was coming to visit me in Brooklyn, we’d have a blast! Let’s talk Pre-Covid – New York City Summer. We’d support several of the local businesses in my neighborhood. We’d have food and delicious frozen drinks at Nostrand Station. We’d grab Italian at Centianni. We’d get doughnuts from Dough. We’d get Chick-Fil-A in downtown Brooklyn. We’d grab delicious Jamaican food at Royal Cuisine and authentic Haitian food at Bebe Fritay. We’d attend the BRIC summer concerts that take place at Prospect Park. We’d also go roller skating at Prospect Park. . We’d walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and visit Brooklyn Bridge Park. We’d get custom tshirts made at Creative Custom Clothing.We’d have in home massages by Sarah Annear. We’d attend a vegan cooking class by Naliaka Wakhisi. We’d get drinks and watch an outdoor movie at Habana Outpost. We’d watch a movie while being served delicious food and drink at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. We’d attend the Dance Africa Event held each summer at BAM. We’d have tickets for the dance show which always features dancers from around the world. And we’d shop with the vendors at the fair. We’d go to Rockaway Beach and soak up the sun and be calmed by the waves. We’d rent a citibike and ride through Shirley Chisholm Park. We’d go dancing and soak up the vibes at Bembe and Kinfolk. We’d visit the Brooklyn Museum and catch their incredible 1st Saturday events. We’d definitely do karaoke in Midtown Manhattan. We’d also attend a Sip and Paint Event with Kina Thomas Sip N Paint with Creativity. We’d reach out to Brooklyn Community Services to see what charitable project we could support with while my bestie is in town.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The Brooklyn Women’s Business Outreach Center (BOC) directed by my amazing mentor, Delia Awusi, has been instrumental in the success of my business. Since working with Delia and BOC, Fit4Dance has transformed from an idea, to a plan, to an award winning storefront serving the needs of its community. The quality and relevance of workshops, purposeful networking opportunities, and level of support, love, and recognition I’ve received from such knowledgeable, committed, and positive staff has made a world of difference in the success of my business. I am extremely grateful for BOC and Delia Awusi.
Adam Wamsley photo credit for both group shots.