My Journey – Chapter 5

Hi again Beautiful,

Previously, in Chapter Four of My Journey…

I ceased the opportunity to create a format that was actually working. I was gaining more momentum through word of mouth and I felt like I finally “fit the part!” Woohoo! I spent about 2 years tweaking it, gave it a name, and became a legit biz. SharQui – The bellydance workout was born.

If you missed Chapter One of My Journey read it HERE, Chapter Two is HERE. Chapter Three is HERE. Chapter Four is HERE.

Here is Chapter Five…

IT’S LONELY AT THE TOP (so to speak)

Over the next 5 years, I hauled ass to grow SharQui. I was making strides in the NYC fitness scene teaching 5 packed classes per week and finally feeling like the fitness celeb I always wanted to be. I mean, after so many years of struggling and feeling invisible, it definitely felt AMAZING to be recognized for my worth.

People wanted more; unfortunately I couldn’t replicate myself (I do have a twin sister, but she’s not a dancer). Anyway, people started to give me the idea of putting my workout on VHS (I know I’m old). I thought it was a great idea and went to work.

I worked really, really hard to figure out how to produce a video. I didn’t know where to go to find a film crew, where to shoot, who to help with creating music (cuz’ paying for licensing was so god damn expensive), finding a graphic artist and where to duplicate the VHS! Oh, and don’t forget shrink wrapping! There were so many moving parts and I had to do it ALL on a dancer’s budget. I hired film students from NYU, got a free warehouse location because my Dad knew a guy, got a dancer friend to do the graphic art and managed to find a decent duplication company. Although I made some creative and expensive mistakes, I still did it!

I was so proud of myself (little did I know this was the start of a SharQui product line).

So, once I had the VHS in my hand and my students, I immediately saw the potential. I wanted EVERYONE to have access to it. Although I was selling it on Amazon, I still needed to get the word out faster. Back then we didn’t have social media so the only way was through good old fashioned PR. You know… like TV, publications, radio, yadda, yadda. I hired a PR company that took ALL my money (ugh), but it did pay off. After getting my first feature with ABC news, lots of features happened in rapid succession – like NBC, CNN, CBS, Telefutura, American Fitness Magazine, Prevention and many, many, more. Here’s my promo reel if you’re interested.

I felt great and I felt accomplished!

But I was tired, still kinda’ broke, and lonely.

While all this PR traction was happening, I personally felt some envy or maybe even spite from the bellydance community. Some felt that I was making bellydance inauthentic by structuring it as fitness, I even heard that some dancers thought that I was monopolizing the gyms. (To backtrack a sec, I should mention that I got my SharQui format fitness accredited which was a big bonus for gyms taking on SharQui). But I wanted support from my community. I felt a little bit like a kid on the playground, swinging all by myself wondering, “Will you be my BFF? Please?”

During this 5-year growth, I did miss performing. The fitness thing was great but it wasn’t feeding my soul artistically. Up until I started SharQui, I felt I was a dancer that did fitness. I didn’t want to be known as the fitness pro that can kinda’ bellydance. I wanted more credibility to prove to the naysayers that yes, I may teach bellydance fitness, but I’m a pro dancer too.

So, what better way to prove that? Have a title under my belt.

I entered my ass in a bellydance competition.

Stay tuned for how it went down tomorrow.


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