I recently had the opportunity of teaching at the very gym I took my first OULA class at. It was surreal to say the least. The class went well, I had some familiar faces, people I had even danced with before I decided to become an instructor. Class ended, there were hugs, the regular post-class conversations and I also had a first timer, so of course I was ranting and raving about OULA. Everyone left, I turned the equipment off, grabbed my stuff and then I just froze. I froze because I was looking at the exact spot I danced in for the very first time….back, right corner. The feeling was overwhelming. I looked at that spot and I started to cry. I started to cry because although the spot I was looking at was only about 20 ft away, it felt like I had come 20,000 miles to get from there to here. Had you told me the first day I walked into that room, that I would be the very person instructing it someday, I would’ve never believed you.
When I started going to class I had a lot of negativity in my life. I was dealing with medical issues, turmoil with friendships, and all around unhealthy habits to cope with life. OULA was my escape from all of that. I kept going to class and absolutely loving it. I loved how free I felt, the music, the dance, the release, the euphoric post-class high, I loved it all…..Until one day, the very first OULA instructor I had at this gym told me she took a new job and was moving away. My heart broke that day. She had encouraged me and another participant to go through training and get certified but it wasn’t until I knew she was moving that I actually considered it. I remember walking into her class my first day, (I still text her constantly and tell her how grateful I am that I did) because it changed my life. I told myself, if I can teach, if I can go through training, become certified and ever help even just ONE person feel the way OULA has made me feel or have the impact on someone as she did me, it would be worth it.
What a journey it has been since then. Looking back at the spot I used to dance in, it’s like I replayed everything leading up to this day in my head. Going to empowerment weekend, overcoming my fears & anxiety, teaching a song for the first time, not only practicing choreo but connecting to it, ALL of the beautiful people I’ve met, hearing their stories, genuine friendships I’ve made, how much FUN I have dancing, everything I have learned! That it’s OK to sing, it’s OK to mess up, it’s OK to laugh at myself, it’s OK to be loud, it’s OK to touch my body, it’s OK to scream, it’s OK TO BE ME.
I even asked a fellow instructor (and dear friend) the other day, “Does it ever stop getting better?!?!” Because it hasn’t yet….I truly will never be able to put into words how grateful I am for OULA and now the opportunities I get to teach it. I can only hope one day I am able to touch other’s hearts the way mine has been by this and help them feel the way it makes me feel.
There are so many times in life I’ve doubted if I’m on the right path, if I have made the right choices so far, if I am good enough. But on this night…..as I stood in the front of that empty room looking back at the spot I used to stand in, a year and a half ago, I knew I was exactly where I needed to be.
This journey has been the most beautiful, fulfilling experience and it hasn’t stopped getting better. Because….I AM HERE