Katia Pryce Talks DanceBody By Tamu McPherson
Hey There Pretty Birds,
I’ve been meaning to tell you more about DanceBody ever since my BFF Andrea introduced me to the dance cardio workout last August. This class is incredibly fun, uplifting and packed with a myriad of health benefits. When you participate you are not only working on your body, but your soul and self-confidence, your mental wellness, and it is also a great way to bond with your friends as well as make new ones. After a month of taking classes in the Hamptons, I met up with founder Katia Pryce to talk about her experience as a dancer, how she transitioned into becoming an instructor and her journey to creating DanceBody. Here’s what she had to say, along with some images of her impressive moves.
TMP: Where were you born, where did you grow up?
KP: I was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan (near Detroit) and I grew up in a small town called Northville… that was on 8 mile (which happens to be a very long road) so I always tell everyone I’m from 8 mile, so I sound like a badass!
TMP: How did you discover dance?
KP: Dance discovered me. I was actually a late bloomer when it came to attending dance classes- most girls start at 4 or 5 years old.. I originally started then too, but was so shy I would hide my ballet shoes so I didn’t have to dance in front of anyone. Years later when I was 8, I went back into dance classes seriously throughout my college years, but was never the model dance student. I always wanted to move in my own way, so I always did. Dance is very personal, and the movement expressed through your body is a true reflection of how you interpret music. I come from a very musical family: singer/songwriters, music teachers, musicians.. dance was simply my form of interpretation.
TMP: What disciplines have you practiced?
KP: Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Musical Theatre, Ballroom (latin and smooth), Swing, and of course, Dance Cardio.
TMP: How long did you dance professionally?
KP: I danced professionally for 6 years before devoting all my physical power to fitness.
TMP: How did you transition into dance fitness?
KP: I was always a dancer who was interested in fitness. In my opinion, there are two types of dancers: healthy and unhealthy, and I have been both at different times. These two sides of the coin can be very quickly flipped for a dancer. I made a conscious decision to become a healthy dancer, I always worked out on my own during shows I was in. However, when I was done with a show and continued to workout, my body never looked the same… never looked as lean. I quickly discovered there was a parallel between fitness and dance that had an aesthetic effect on my body. I moved to NYC originally to be a performing artist- I arrived on a one way ticket, with one suitcase, no job, no place to stay, and relied on friends and Craigslist to get me through my first year in the city. I was auditioning all the time and had about 3 different waitressing job when I came across an ad to audition for Tracy Anderson. I worked with Tracy for 2 years as she built her first NYC studio. After I left Tracy’s studio I spent 2 years researching on my own, experimenting on my body, working with other fitness gurus, and figuring out the best way to keep dance in my life while still staying fit and functioning while achieving the aesthetic result I selfishly always wanted as a dancer.
KP: I think there was this thought in my head that fitness had to be punishing in some way- that I had to completely kill myself to keep the results I wanted. Through my own research and realization, I found that I could workout for less time and achieve better results than I had in the past. I was able to dance while still incorporating tried and true classic strength exercises that didn’t bulk me up, yet kept my muscles lean and my body functioning. When I first started to work in dance fitness, my body ached all the time, I was exhausted, had no energy, and couldn’t even walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded! Yet I was working out constantly! That just didn’t make sense to me. By strengthening certain parts of my body while still incorporating the dance element I loved so much, I became stronger AND leaner. Now, my body looks and feels different, and I can go to ANY fitness class and feel great because of the way I condition myself with the DanceBody technique.
TMP: Describe the philosophy behind DanceBody.
KP: You don’t have to be a dancer to look like one. Our entire way of movement is founded on dance, from the cardio to our sculpt to our stretching to using weights- everything is approached with a dancer’s mentality of moving with long, lean, liquid movements, creating not only a beautiful workout… but an effective one.
TMP: Why do you think that your clients are so addicted to your classes, you and your other amazing instructors?
KP: I think the addiction is multi-faceted- people love to move and sweat in a group which makes it more fun. I truly think the “fun” factor has a lot to do with why the addiction sticks- it’s not a punishing workout, but a rewarding one that leaves you feeling renewed and refreshed at the end. Also the music: we play GREAT music, new and old, and we play it loud. The baseline of music sticks in people’s heads and it becomes infectious, and turns into wanting to move your body. Plus it’s empowering! Learning how to use your body in a graceful yet powerful way is exciting to so many people who have been bored by the same old fitness routine. Not to mention, our team is comparable to none. I am so clear on the kinds of personalities I want on our team to represent DanceBody- all our girls are nice badasses. They’re the girls you want to look like and be friends with, yet aren’t intimidated by. We don’t do “mean girls” or “cliques”, so many studios can be cold that way too – not us, everyone is welcomed into the fold, leave the ego at the door.
KP: We have the best combination of dance + fitness in our classes. It’s very evenly balanced, we don’t stop the workout to teach the dances, we keep you moving constantly so that you get the best workout. Our dancing isn’t dorky, simplistic, or repetitive, it’s cool without being so complicated that it’s intimidating. You have a chance to really pick up the dance moves, in between ramping up your heart rate with planks, burpees, pushups, etc… it’s a completely effective hour of a workout that includes cardio AND sculpting. But the dance portion is so fun you don’t even know how long you’ve been at it. I think we cater to all levels of dance too, we have 4 different assigned levels from a true novice to a dance aficionado. We’ve had non-dancers and dancers alike enjoy the classes without getting frustrated or bored- we’ve really worked hard to develop this…plus we listen to our client’s feedback constantly to keep giving them what they want most.
TMP: How do you empower women through your lessons, any special mottos, what’s your method?
KP: I believe in being 100% authentic – which means taking a real look at where you’re at and a conscious look at where you want to end up. So many people have such extreme expectations when it comes to their own fitness.. and life, and I just don’t subscribe to that! The body is temporary. It truly is! Especially for women, we go through so many different phases in life, and each phase is very temporary. Character, integrity, work ethic, ambition – these are all permanent traits. But a body is always moldable, and the only one in control of that is you! I love seeing women come into their own with their dancing, sometimes certain clients will start out as timid and very inhibited… but once they have the moves down they will really start to go for it, and their confidence just soars- it’s one of my most favorite things. Being in touch and in full control of your body is a very empowering thing- I urge my clients to take control and take responsibility. Your body is your biography, and it only reads what you write.
KP: Wow… this could fill a book. I’ve learned SO much from starting my own business, which in all honesty I fell into very organically. I didn’t create a structured business plan and project exactly how I was going to scale my model, all I knew was that I had to do it. I have been lucky to be surrounded by the right voices at the right times to be able to move my business forward. Being a creative, I had to learn how to run an effective business from the ground up, and I had to learn quick, and I still have to learn every day. One of the best things I learned was how to ask for help- it seems like an easy thing, but having always done things for myself, I initially found it hard to swallow my pride and ask the right questions from the right people to get the right results. And the cool thing I learned from that? Most people love lending a hand to an up and coming entrepreneur, especially if they’ve been through it themselves!
TMP: Any special news that you would like to share with my readers about up-coming Dance Body events?
KP: We just wrapped up our 2 week Kickstart Event for the New Year, where we had clients commit to 2 weeks of everyday 90 minute workouts- it was intense, but the results were totally worth it! Our next big step is finding a permanent home for DanceBody in NYC… and we are very close.. finally! It will feel so good to be in one place since we’ve been running this company out of rented space for 3 years! It’s been a grind, but it gave us time to truly understand our product and how to deliver it, not a moment was wasted.