Local fitness instructor and Move2Uplift founder Erika Nicole fosters inclusivity while constantly promoting positivity.
By Samantha Greyson, Photo by Kiantae Taylor at Kaptures by Kay
At the age of 19, Erika Nicole had her hands full raising her two young daughters. Fitness wasn’t a priority until she discovered Zumba, a workout class that revolves around Latin-inspired dance.
“I remember being like, ‘What’s this Zumba stuff?’” Nicole says. “I ended up just kind of giving it a try at my local class and just went from there. I fell in love with it because I’m half Puerto Rican, so it felt like I was just at home with my girls, dancing.”
More than 10 years later, Nicole now teaches Zumba classes of her own, where she mixes salsa, bachata, reggae and Top 40 music to create an eclectic, inclusive atmosphere for her students. Because Zumba changed Nicole’s life in a positive way, she strives to inspire others with Zumba and fitness in her program Move2Uplift.
“You feel comfortable in that space, feel comfortable with the people that are there,” Nicole says. “You always feel comfortable with the instructor. That has always been the theme of the music and the energy in general. This is our place, this is our people and we know why we’re here.”
Nicole also strives to promote inclusivity within her classes, which differs from some traditionally male-dominated fitness spaces.
“I always try to use the music and the moves and everything that we’re doing as an opportunity for people to take on these different characters,” Nicole says. “Whether it’s a funky little salsa and we tap into our feminine [side], or a little hip hop and we’re getting a little grimy and a little more masculine.”
With her expertise in dance, as well as her uplifting mindset, Nicole gives readers five tips to follow the beat of their own drum on and off the dance floor.
Hold yourself accountable.
On the dance floor, if you don’t continue to grow, you plateau. And if you don’t take constructive criticism, you can’t grow. The same applies to careers and relationships. Have the “ego courage” to ask for help so that others can hold you accountable.
Trust in your “secret sauce.”
Prioritize yourself. Believe in yourself and invest in improving yourself. Whether you’re an accountant and nobody sees those numbers like you do, or you are a great dancer and you are a pleasure to dance with and to watch, if you can learn to trust and believe in that every single day, you will lift yourself up in a way that nobody else can.
Consistency is key.
Practice doesn’t always make perfect, but it sure will make you a lot better. If you practice even the simplest steps, your dancing will improve. And if you set your mind to something, consistency is the only way to accomplish the task at hand. You could do it, whatever you set your mind to. You can do it, but you just have to have the discipline to get it done. Because if you don’t have the discipline, then you shouldn’t get to reap the reward of the end goal, whatever that is.
Don’t compare yourself to others.
Whether you are comparing yourself to a friend or family member who made all of the “right” decisions, or the person dancing next to you at the club, comparison is the antithesis of growth. We get trapped into feeling like we have to go by a certain rulebook. If we get caught up in comparing ourselves, we’ll almost turn into someone that we’re not. We won’t get to really live our true selves, our true authentic selves.
The timing is never right, but do it anyway.
Dancing may involve a lot of counts. Though you may keep track of the “one, two, three,” if you overanalyze these numbers, it takes the fun out of the dance itself. I think that also applies to life. I don’t always give myself the chance to get it wrong, to get it right, [to]just let it be. In general, if we can give ourselves more grace to explore what it even feels like to move, to do it anyways, we’ll get the timing right, we’ll get it wrong. Just go for it.