Shazzy Fitness is a cardio exercise DVD series launched by Kristy McCarley. The exercises fuse modern hip-hop dance with faith-based contemporary music.
The DVD series was voted “Top DVD Workouts of 2014” by the Chicago Sun-Times. McCarley made numerous television appearances but wanted to spread the word even further about the Christian centered DVD series. So what did an entrepreneur do? Launch a series of certification classes of course.
While McCarley and a few other dance instructors were on their way to teach a certification class in Georgia, the car they were riding in suddenly stopped. It appeared that the car’s battery died and a tire also went flat.
When the car stopped, Apollo Levine, the lead male instructor, suggested that they flag down a driver. Fortunately before they could alert someone, help came their way. First a female passerby asked if they needed help. Then a second passerby, a male, acknowledged that he formerly worked for a nationwide roadside assistance company and assisted McCarley and her fellow passengers. The bleak situation looked brighter for McCarley as the third passerby turned out to be a police officer.
“At the point when the car stopped, we never stopped laughing,” McCarley said. “We never stopped smiling. We knew God was going to work it out. We had no doubts there was a reason for all this.”
Touching people’s lives through faith and Hip-Hop
Looking back, McCarley said that the roadblock didn’t necessary present itself to be a huge obstacle, but undoubtedly changed her prayer life.
“My faith has increased. I’ve always been a faithful person. I’ve been through and seen so much. Personally in myself and through touching the lives of others, my faith is now stronger than it has ever been before. Just the relationships I’ve built with people that I’ve met across the country – we get emails from around the globe, from people who have been touched by what we do. It has just broadened my experience,” she said.
Shazzy Fitness was launched in 2012. When searching for a name for her company, McCarley says she looked to the Bible. She felt a strong connection to Daniel, whose Babylonian name was Belshazzar. McCarley shortened it to Shazzy. Since her launch of Shazzy Fitness, another way that McCarley has seen her faith grow is in her approach to business.
“I used to get very stressed out about how [everything] was going to come together.” McCarley admitted asking herself, “Am I doing this right?” Now she admits that everything doesn’t have to be prefect. “I just have to stay in tune and be obedient to what God tells me. We are all works in progress. None of us are perfect in what we do. We all have lives and kids and families and obligations and jobs….but we are connected through this. We know that there’s a need for this; that people benefit from it.”
Shazzy Fitness held their first dance-fitness certification class in July 2015. The dance instructors include professional dancers Apollo Levine and Vera Musgrove. Levine is a professional actor, singer and choreographer and has appeared in productions of Dreamgirls, Ragtime and Smokey Joe’s Café. Musgrove is a former dance captain for the Atlanta Hawk’s A-Town Dancers and a former dance captain for the theatrical production DRUMLine Live! Currently she teaches a variety of beginner and master dance and fitness classes.
A call to live active healthy lives
Some of the students who have completed certification classes were eager to teach others.
In 2014, Crystal Astrachan started a Shazzy Fitness DVD-based class at Community Christian Church of New York City. “It has been a blessing to me personally and to my church family,” said Astrachan. “Every Saturday morning a small group gets together at 9:00 a.m. to work out to the uplifting music. Shazzy Fitness has provided us with an opportunity to combine our faith and fitness; as a result, the classes help us share God’s love with our community. I’m planning to start teaching the Shazzy Fitness routines without the DVD over the next few months.”
Cheryl Salter, who also received her dance-fitness certification, says that she too enjoyed the class and was looking forward to teaching it to others. “The teacher in me wants to educate people about the importance of maintaining their health so they can live full productive lives.” Another student, Migdalia (Dally) Capeles, said that she enjoyed the family-type atmosphere.
So what’s next on the horizon for Shazzy Fitness? McCarley says one of the team’s visions is to produce workouts for children and classes for seniors.
“We did a huge dance event for teenagers…we did an elementary school. We also did senior classes. People are living longer. We want to do more senior classes to [help] keep seniors active…there’s also a lot [of] issues with diabetes, cholesterol, high blood pressure – all these things that tend to happen as people get older,” said McCarley. “We want people to live active, healthy lives; not necessarily perfect bodies, not necessary a perfect diet but get up and move. Treating your body as the temple God made it to be doesn’t mean that you never eat a piece of chocolate, but you’re getting the heart going, and keeping your body as healthy as possible while you make sensible health and food choices.”