“I grew up in Miami, hence the 305 area code for 305 Fitness. I was very much like I am today. I was extremely extroverted, very confident as a kid. I loved to perform, dance, and sing. I don’t have any dance training, but I loved to move always. I had lots of energy, so it was a great outlet for me when I discovered exercise in high school.
I went to Brown University. It’s a very vibrant, liberal campus. They really allow you to explore what you’re interested in. When I came to campus, they didn’t really have any fitness classes. I wanted to teach these dance classes, and they encouraged it. That’s how 305 developed, out of feedback from college students. I was sort of known as this aerobic dancing girl on campus.
I was out with my girlfriend. It was our spring break trip down to Miami. We were at a nightclub dancing. We looked around. The lights, the DJs, the sweat. It was 3AM and we just had this aha epiphany moment. Why don’t we combine this experience with the dance classes that I’m teaching? We took the dance classes that I was teaching that were extremely effective, very high impact, high energy, and we mixed it with a live DJ and magic just happened. From there, I knew that I needed to bring this to the market because I knew nothing like this existed.
I didn’t know anything really about starting businesses. I started taking entrepreneurship classes my senior year. One of my professors encouraged me to enter the business plan competition, so I did. I won, which is incredible because it was male-dominated teams. It was really science and technology-based, and I was here telling them that I was going to start a dance class. I think the judges saw that I had this passion. They really knew I was going to do this. [The prize money] was enough to bootstrap everything that I was doing here.
I used to teach all the classes. I started just by teaching two classes a week. For the first three months, it was very hard to get people in the door. I would beg my friends to come. I told them to come for free. We’d have two, three people. It just grew little by little until I was teaching eight classes a week. In the meantime, I was doing all the things to set up the business: the legal, the accounting, the website, et cetera.
It wasn’t too crazy. It was manageable. Starting any business is just very logical. You ask people who have done it before for the next logical step. You just keep going. You don’t look at the next 10 years. You just look at the next six months. You try to figure out a plan for that. After going from two to eight classes a week, I physically couldn’t teach anymore so I decided to train and find instructors. That’s when it really exploded.
Today, 305 Fitness is a dance cardio workout with a live DJ. There’s a crazy live show. There’s a bumping audio system. There’s a sick ambiance that really recreates this nightclub or music festival vibe. We want you to feel empowered, exhilarated, focused, sweaty, strong, confident. The idea being that you come to 305, yes, as a place to have fun, and if you’re looking to move physically and change things about your body, fine. But 305 is more than just a space to purge or a space to punish yourself. It’s not like that traditional workout—‘You suck’. We are really preaching this other mentality of ‘Nothing is wrong with you. You’re absolutely perfect the way you are. Come here. Have fun. We’ll create meaning for you.’
It’s so complicated, body image. It is still very pervasive, but there’s this conservative view of ‘You’re not good enough. Buy what I’m selling. If you buy what I’m selling, you’ll be happy…’ which is being thin is more important than anything else, more important than being happy, being kind. Views of that have changed but still the message is so focused on being beautiful and on having these standards. Now it’s about ‘love your body’. For a lot of people, that’s unattainable too, because the focus is still on your body.
With 305, I’m really looking to celebrate every aspect of your being. That’s your mind, your intelligence, your sense of humor, your friendships. It’s not just about the scale. It’s not just about physical changes. It’s not just about you even loving your body. Sometimes I hate my body. Sometimes I love my body. It’s about recognizing all these other things that make you a human being.
Personally, I truly do eat whatever I want. I really do. I’m not one to eat like all vegan, home-cooked meals. I like cheeseburgers. I like fries. I like milkshakes. I love candy. I love chocolate. I have chocolate every single day. I think when I have to listen to my body, I have to listen to my body. If it’s preventing me from being able to do what I want to do, then I will change my diet. For the most part, I just want to enjoy life. I want to enjoy physical movement. I want to enjoy food. I want to enjoy every moment of it.
Well, first of all, I never hit the snooze. I really don’t believe in it. Hitting snooze really makes me more tired and then it just changes my day. Then I resent having to wake up. If I just wake up and I say, ‘I have to get up,’ I do it.
Secondly, I really take it step-by-step, day-by-day. Like I said, I’m not looking at the next 10 years or the next 5 years. I’m really trying to focus on the next six months and where we’re going. That helps me feel more grounded in what I’m doing.”
As told to Stephanie Park, November 2015.
Photos courtesy of Sadie Kurzban, 305 Fitness.