Nonahood News: Tell us about you and your art.
Missy Isom: I’m the creator of Soul Fitness. From 2010 to 2019, I had my dance studio in North Carolina. There, I taught basic classes like Mommy and Me. As I got older and grew out of that mom stage, I realized there were more people who wanted to come to my class, so I started an aerobics type of dance fitness class.
I moved to Lake Nona in 2019. Everything was wonderful in North Carolina, but my husband is a pilot, so I lived alone there with my kids, and he would visit us from New York. We felt we should be together as a family, so I stepped away from my studio. It was very hard. I felt like my identity was in my studio. I got into the fitness industry because, when I had my daughter in 2008, I struggled with postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression. I didn’t want to go back into the workforce because I wanted to be with my daughter all the time. It was also very hard to be a stay-at-home mom because I wasn’t one beforehand, I was in corporate banking.
For about three months after moving here, I didn’t dance or teach anything, and I started seeing myself sink back into a dark place. One day, I decided to reach out to Tavistock and pitch what I wanted to bring to Lake Nona. They were interested but needed time to work things out. After a while, I got antsy and decided to walk into the office, introduce myself, and pour my heart and soul out to them. At the end, the guy looks at me and says, “We want you. When can we start?”
I began my first class in March of 2020. I had only taught one class and then the pandemic hit. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t put my love for dancing to the side. Tavistock requested I record my classes so they could put them on YouTube and share them. For months, I recorded in my garage. It was so hot, but I didn’t care. After the height of the pandemic, we came back and, slowly but surely, people started finding out about my club cardio dance classes.
NHN: Recent accomplishments?
MI: I had a vision to do a rustic, urban class inside a parking garage. With some help, we were able to get permission to hold the class and we had all this art we made from old sheets of metal, old trash cans, and we spray painted it with graffiti. We had three drummers from a high school band playing drums on the trash cans. It was unbelievable.
NHN: Challenges in teaching dance?
MI: This area is very transient, so every class, there are people who have been with me for the past three and a half years but there are also new people, so the hard thing is making sure that when I choreograph, everyone in that room, new or old, at any level, can follow along.
NHN: Most rewarding aspect of dance?
MI: Seeing other people addicted to Soul, walking in the doors pumped up because they know they’re going to get a great experience and walking out with the biggest smiles. That lets me know I did my job.
NHN: Walk us through your typical process for choreographing your classes.
MI: Whenever I hear a song, I have to vibe with it and then I start choreographing it in my head. I then have to see myself doing it in a mirror to make sure it looks clean and sharp and is easy to follow. Then I practice so by the time I present it to everyone in class I’ve got it down. I also have three other instructors that I call ambassadors who do the same thing – they choreograph, practice and bring it to me, and I check it off. The choreography goes through many layers before we’re ready to present it to everyone.
NHN: New projects in the works?
MI: Lake Nona’s having a Health and Wellness week, so around June 10th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., we’re going to close off the side street right next to Veg’n Out to set up a block party with a DJ and we’re going to have a class. It’s all going to be open to the public. In addition to a dance party, we might do a lip sync battle!
NHN: Where can people find you and your art?MI: I have classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at Dockside in the heart of Laureate Park located right next to Canvas. People can also find me on Instagram at @soulfitness.nona and on Facebook at Soul Fitness.