My Journey – Chapter 4

Hey there Lovely,

Previously, in Chapter Three of My Journey…

Finally – the sweet taste of some success! After working my booty off to build a solid reputation in the fitness industry, I managed to get a consistent core group of students. But then there was a shift in the fitness industry. It was all about looking like a superstar and I didn’t fit the part. I needed to do something different… but what?

(If you missed Chapter Three of My Journey read it HERE.Chapter Two is HERE and Chapter One is HERE).

Here’s Chapter Four…


Now we’re heading into 1998. The fitness industry was a very different place then and being a fitness instructor meant something different – well, at least to me. I continued to push myself to learn new modalities so that I can stay current and prove my worth. I knew I was a good.

I was at a staff meeting at Gold’s Gym on 54th street (the world-famous Studio 54 building) and my director was complaining that class attendance was low. He encouraged us to think of ways to bring in more people and offer class ideas that could spark interest. I immediately raised my hand and said “I can teach bellydance fitness – it’s about loving your body and everybody can do it!” WTF?! I didn’t know what made me say it. It was like my body was possessed and I had no control! I hated everything about my culture because it made me different. (gosh I was so god damn insecure then) Well, his eyes lit up and said, “Fabulous, you begin teaching it next week!”

(Gulp) And… I did.

Although I grew up with the artform of bellydance, did it socially and took a few classes in Israel, I knew I had to brush up on my skills. So, the entire week before, I crammed in all the bellydance classes I could. And to be honest, I wasn’t impressed. Coming from a contemporary dance background where the choreographer constantly watches and critiques and a fitness background where correction and safety are key, it was hard not to get ANY personal feedback. And the talking! Ahh! Sometimes there was more talking than dancing! Oh, and the worst… I didn’t even break a sweat! I did learn one important thing though – that I needed to create my own thing… and pronto!

I started by simply following the structure of a fitness class. I took 20 signature bellydance moves, broke it down, built it up, added speed and arms to get the heart rate up, and set it to music that was on the 32 count. Boom! Just like traditional aerobics. Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t as easy as it sounds, BUT, it was a start and knew the structure wouldn’t piss New Yorkers off. New Yorkers aren’t the easiest crowd to please, you know.

I continued to teach and tweak my new class for the next year while still taking all the bellydance classes I could. I became involved in the NY bellydance scene and danced and attended community Haflas (shows and parties). I was actually beginning to enjoy my Middle Eastern roots and my art-form again. And… I finally fit the friggin’ part! Yes!

Then in 1999 the singer Shakira, and the Latin soap opera, El Clon, hit the media. Bellydance suddenly became a HUGE craze and my class was filled to the brim – and with a waiting list! As time rolled by, the buzz about my class spread. That’s when I knew I had something and needed to make this thing legit.

I had to think of a name – and quickly! I thought, “Hmmm… what sounds ethnic, represents what I’m teaching and is easy enough to pronounce? Sharqui!!!! It means east in Arabic (Raqs al Sharqui is technical term for dance of the east or bellydance, btw). It has 2 syllables like TaeBo and I can capitalize the first letter of the 2nd syllable!


In 2002 I became incorporated and trademarked the name, SharQui – The bellydance workout™.

I NOW had a business.

Holy mother of god! Now what?!!!

Stay tuned for the trials and tribulations of my business journey coming tomorrow.


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