Who danced it out this weekend at a Halloween party? Hopefully all of you! But, not everyone is an expert dancer, and if your moves were slightly less than stellar, help is on the way! Meet Ziba Lennox and Marisol Sarabia, dance enablers and co-founders of MaZi Dance Fitness. They have been professional dancers since their teens. It was their first job, in fact! So you know you’re in very safe hands when you come to one of their classes. These Chicago entrepreneurs have created a welcoming environment that will have all of us dancing with expertise, and feeling great doing it…
How did you enter the fitness world?
We have been involved in the fitness world since the beginning of our careers in dance. Pilates was a large part of our conditioning as ballet dancers, which we started doing around age 8. Ballet is incredibly athletic, so as dancers we always aimed to optimize performance, stay healthy and have endurance. We’ve been dancing so long that we don’t even remember not being in the fitness world!
What led you to start your own studios?
We felt there was a gap in the fitness studio community for people that love to dance or don’t necessarily like traditional workouts. We personally missed real ballet technique in our own workouts and the connection with our minds, bodies and music that comes along with dance. Dancing is really fun but it can be intimidating, so we wanted to build a brand that was welcoming to all levels and that provides fun fitness classes for EVERY body!
What is something no one knows about starting your own business?
There are times when we both have had to act as a plumber, janitor, performer, instructor, programmer, event planner, and accountant in a single day. Just because you’re doing what you love, doesn’t mean you can avoid doing things you don’t love in order to make it happen and ensure things run smoothly.
In the beginning especially you have to wear a million different hats and expect the unexpected, but that experience is actually invaluable. We’ve found that you can’t be a leader without the obstacles because they really help to understand what has to be done at all levels of your business.
What makes the MaZi classes unique?
You become a dancer. People come in wanting to achieve a “dancer’s body” but the transformation occurs within. Our classes completely change your outlook on working out. It’s not a trend or a crash fitness program, it becomes a lifestyle and way of carrying yourself!
Why is self-confidence such a big part of your classes?
Our team of instructors really knows how to nudge our clients and give that extra push needed for the little wins and mental and physical changes over time. Combined with our curated moves and upbeat music, we feel our classes create the perfect formula to clear the mind of anxiety that can lead to self-doubt. You walk out of class feeling present, solution-oriented, powerful, and beautiful.
What can we all do every day for a little boost of confidence?
Physically, it’s all about posture. Try and roll your shoulders down your back (and keep them there!), pull your abs in, proud chest and step out into the world like a lioness or ballerina about to go on stage.
Mentally, we find that a lack in self-confidence stems from fear. Fear is fed by inactivity, over-stimulation of inputs (enter smart phones) and feeling unsupported. Aside from going to a dance fitness class, we recommend putting down your phone down, playing your favorite song, and moving freely without judgement. These tricks will allow the frontal lobe, the part of your brain that is responsible for critical thinking, to activate versus being taken over by the amygdala (responsible for fight or flight) in order to think clearly and confidently.
What is the best part of your day?
Definitely the days where we get to teach class and be part of the community we’ve built.
And the toughest?
Trying to make everyone happy, which we know is not possible. We always try to keep things in perspective to realize that our tougher moments aren’t as bad as what’s going on in some parts of the world.
How do you balance a personal and professional life?
MaZi is a lifestyle. Like our clients, we have strong friendships at the studio (which we celebrate and like to call #MaZisistas!) so our personal and professional lives are sometimes one in the same.
Due to our careers in dance we both have led largely unbalanced lives, starting with our performing career at a very young age. We had to give up being girl scouts, homecoming, prom and things most experience at a younger age. What always rises to the top is what we love to do, so you have to accept that some days your personal life will be dominant and sometimes your professional life will be. We’ve found there’s little balance, so it’s really prioritizing what you have to do and having the discipline to not neglect either life.