I live on a tiny tropical island. It’s absolutely stunning, paradise at its finest. Some even say I am living the dream. Simplifying and purging my life of unnecessary possessions that were just occupying space has been satisfying and cathartic. And it doesn’t hurt that the view is fabulous!
Back in the states, I was a pharmaceutical sales representative. I absolutely loved my job and my customers. However, toward the end of my tenure, my interest in pharmacological treatment options faded a bit as I became passionate about prevention.
This change in mindset happened about the same time my husband and I were celebrating our seven year anniversary. We both were experiencing what we now affectionately refer to as our “Seven Year Itch.” While vacationing on St. John, we had a wild idea to leave our lives behind and move to the island. We started making plans to sell our house, our stuff, quit our jobs, and move to the Caribbean.
October 11, 2014, we made our dream a reality. Along with our two dogs, we boarded the plane and took our one way flight to the island! The first couple of weeks on St. John were like a happy honeymoon. We felt like we were on a vacation that didn’t have to end. We explored trails we’d never hiked, we snorkeled beaches we’d never seen, and we visited nearby islands. It was awesome!
It didn’t take long, however, before I realized that there was something missing in my life on St. John – the cardio hip hop fitness classes that I had grown to love over the past couple of years in Charlotte. I planned my life around those classes, attending at least three a week, and I wasn’t even the instructor!
For me dance is therapeutic. I don’t know any other way to get such an amazing workout that’s actually really fun! And I know, personally, I would never stay on a treadmill or an elliptical machine for an hour, but my dance classes, called the Cardio Hip Hop TWERKshop, are one full hour of intense cardio, dancing, sweating and smiling.
The friends I’ve met through my fitness classes are amazing. They are people like me who understand the power of movement and the power of dance to not only transform your body but also your mind. It’s next to impossible to shake your body to upbeat music for an hour while surrounded by your friends and not feel better, physically and emotionally.
At the TWERKshop, I focus on three things: creating a welcoming environment of acceptance with zero judgement, ensuring that my class gets a phenomenal workout, and encouraging positivity and joy. Nothing makes me happier than when someone says “your class has changed my life” or “this is what I’ve been missing on the island.”
Starting cardio hip hop classes on St. John has taught me a great deal about having the confidence to step outside the box and try something new. Even if it takes people a little longer to give it a try, eventually they come around. Sometimes it just takes extra encouragement and maybe a little nudge (or shove!) to get them to come to their first class.
I understand being unsure, because I remember the first time I tried a hip hop class back in Charlotte. I was so nervous that I wouldn’t know the steps and that people would be giving me strange looks! As it turned out, it was actually quite the opposite. I noticed that I became addicted to the feeling I had during and after those workouts. I love the saying that you are only one workout away from a good mood; it’s so true when you find a workout you love!
This holiday season, before it’s even time to make those resolutions in the new year, I would like to suggest that you begin taking chances and try something that takes you slightly out of your comfort zone. That certainly doesn’t need to be moving to an island or attending any specific type of workout class. Just find something that you’re a little interested in and maybe a little nervous about, and give it a shot. You have nothing to lose and potentially so much to gain.
The day after Thanksgiving, I will be leading a class I’m calling the Turkey Twerk-off where we will literally dance (aka “twerk”) off hundreds of calories as we share our gratitude and positive energy with each other.
This year, I’m giving thanks for my health, the opportunity I have to lead group fitness classes on a tropical island, and the courage I’ve had to take some risks to make it happen. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Gobble, Gobble, Gobble and Twerk, Twerk, Twerk!
Ashley is a blogger, freelance writer, and fitness instructor residing on St. John in the US Virgin Islands. Known for her love of animals, innate ability to connect with almost anyone anywhere, and her passion for dance, which lead to the creation of the cardio hip hop TWERKshop, Ashley works to inspire others to achieve their goals and live their dreams. Follow her journey at www.prescription4change.com and on Instagram!