Want to know more about Oula’s first training in 2017?
Keep reading to get to know all about OULA-Billings and 3 really cool instructors who help keep it all going.
Jenna, you were the first instructor to teach OULA in Billings, MT. How did you hear of OULA and what made you want to bring it to a new city?
Jenna- I received my OULA certification in May 2014. I was lamenting to a coworker one day about how much I missed a particular dance class in San Diego, where I lived for several years. My coworker had gone to school in Missoula and regularly went to OULA. She said I should check it out because she knew it would be exactly what I needed. I stalked OULA online for a few MONTHS and then decided to do something completely out of character for me. I signed up for certification weekend having never taken a class or taught group exercise before. Training was held July 5th & 6th which happened to land on my birthday. It was the best 40th b-day gift I could have ever given myself! I took my first class and that was it. I was terrified, but everyone was so welcoming and supportive that I knew I’d made the right decision to throw caution to the wind and get out of my comfort zone. OULA had not reached Billings yet so I knew if I wanted to “shake it” to top 40’s music (let’s be honest, I was already doing this, but with a dust rag and vacuum during cardio cleaning hour at home), I’d have to become an instructor.
Was OULA an instant success? What were classes like when you were first starting out?
Jenna- My practice classes started in the tiny dance studio at the YMCA where I was teaching children’s tap and jazz. Eight or more adults in that room meant a tight squeeze for OULA but it was a great place to build a class. Because OULA was brand new in Billings I wondered if anyone would come. I had moments of panic before opening that dance studio door thinking I’d be hanging out by myself practicing alone, but it never happened! Classes started small with a few people and then grew to a few more and then more. It was incredible! I’d found a group of women who were looking for the same outlet as me. Their encouragement and friendship is what started the spark in Billings and what has grown the program at the Y from one small class in the smallest room to now four classes a week in the main group ex rooms. I’ve had the great fortune of dancing with these ladies from the beginning and now some of them are attending training this January. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
Then finally in December of 2015 more OULA instructors came to Billings! Maria, what brought you to Billings?
Maria- I ended up moving to Billings just three weeks before training to be back with my family and for a change of pace, so being able to focus on training and instructing during such a big life change was a godsend!
Then in June of 2016 Tasha joined the Instructors in Billings!
Tasha, what was your training like?
Tasha- My training was amazing, it gave me the confidence that I needed to find my voice and the energy I needed to be in front of people and lead them. I learned a lot about Oula and myself as a person.
Who thought a training could be possible in Billings? And when did you know?
Jenna- I can’t remember which time I was in Missoula when Kali planted this seed in my head. She mentioned in passing that I should let her know when there should be a training in Billings. Once a few more instructors got certified…Hooray for Laura, Maria, Karissa and Tasha, it felt like we’d built some momentum to make it happen. There’s so much opportunity for OULA in Billings so after chatting about it amongst ourselves I finally just thought, let’s do this. Karissa was able to secure the training venue and a date was set. We’re excited to expand the tribe!
Maria- I still have to explain WHAT Oula is to almost everyone in Billings, so I had only fantasized about training coming to Billings. It is so exciting! I found out when I was visiting the Oula Studio in July while I was catching up with Kali. I have no words for how much I am looking forward to more instructors!!
Let’s get to know you a little better. If you had to pick 1 OULA song to describe your personality what would it be and why?
Jenna- Thanks to Kali’s true gift of picking what feels like all of the right songs at the right times I’ve been able to dance emotions I’m not normally able to verbalize. I found my sole song with Believer. I was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer at the age of 21 and was told prior to my treatment (a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor) that I had a 14% chance of living. It still gets me all worked up thinking about that comment delivered so clinically. What’s with 14%? It sounds so random! All I can remember is thinking to myself, they don’t know me. How can they give me this number? They don’t know what I’m capable of. I channel my 21-year old self when I’m dancing Believer. It’s my, “I’ll show you” song! I’m a glass is half full kind of person. I smile and laugh a lot but I am also strong and determined. Many of the higher cardio songs have helped me bring back that inner warrior that needs a chance to express herself!
Maria- “Can’t Believe It” has been really speaking to me and my booty lately. It is the perfect balance of sassy sexiness and being playful and not too serious.
Tasha- I think Unstoppable by Sia best describes me. I see myself as a powerful, unstoppable women who can take on the world and everything in it while still feeling sexy. This song makes me feel like no matter what this world throws at me I can take it on and win!
Besides the 3 of you, there are 2 other OULA instructors (Karissa Gordon and Laura Sheetz). All of you are such amazing and unique instructors. What makes Billings unique?
Jenna- This isn’t unique to Billings, but it’s truly amazing to me how people can come from all difference places in life and end up together every week to work through whatever it is they need to work through. Whether it’s a stressful day, relationship angst or even feeling light and celebratory, it’s really a gift to be able to share it collectively. I can’t believe it’s been a few years now that we’ve been doing this! The Billings tribe was there for me as I learned to teach classes, they encouraged me to become certified in Power and cheered me on when I got engaged and then married. Knowing that these kinds of connections in movement and spirit take place all over Montana and beyond makes me burst with happiness.
What would you say to someone who lives in Billings and is thinking of taking an OULA class for the first time?
Maria- Do it, do it, do it. OULA has completely changed the relationship I have had with my body, exercise, and with other people. It is nothing but positivity and love, so why not try it?
Jenna- I’d say we’re looking forward to meeting you! It is a “we” because Billings OULAkins, like OULAkins everywhere, are passionate about sharing the OULA experience. This isn’t just a class you’ll walk in and out of anonymously having worked up a sweat. Even if you hug the back wall or dance in the doorway (I totally get you since that used to be me), someone is going to smile at you, someone is going to introduce themselves to you, and someone may high five you because at one time they stood where you are standing.
What would you say to a Billings OULAkin who is thinking about signing up for the training?
Maria- Do it! Do it a thousand times! Training weekend introduced me to some of the best people around and it was like we were all old friends by the end of the second day. Truly, becoming an instructor has been a complete game-changer in my life path and I can’t imagine where I would be without it.
Tasha- I would say that it is the best decision I have ever made, and I know that you will feel the same way in the end. It is nerve racking, but you will always have support. Not just from your mentors, but the local instructors and classes as well. We know how scary it can be, but we also know that you can do it! We are getting more and more requests for classes at other locations and the classes we have are growing each and every week. We are all stretched thin trying to keep up with it and are super excited to have some more instructors to share the load and help our Oula community grow even more.
Jenna- Do it!! Don’t over-think it to death like I did. It will change your life in so many wonderful ways you can’t imagine. I know there are more gyms and studios interested in offering OULA but there aren’t enough instructors to fill the need. It’s definitely time for more people to get certified! When I got certified I relied on support from everyone in Missoula to help me become an instructor, but now you have a group of people fully vested in helping you right here in Billings. We hope you will join us!!
To find out where you can dance with Jenna, Maria, Tasha, Karissa, or Laura, or to sign up for the upcoming training in Billings- January 2017, go to the “Trainings” tab on our website: oulafitness.com