The old adage goes “when life deals you nothing but lemons, make lemonade”. Well that’s just what Mari Kai and her close friend Jasmere, owners of Fantasy Fitness have done.
Mari a trained dancer for 17 years has a Bachelors degree in Dance Education and English, and a Masters in the Art of teaching. She taught both Dance and English at a charter school for 4½ years, and upon receiving the news that the school would be closing in the fall of 2010, she was at a point in her life where she knew she wanted to make some changes that may lead her career in another direction.
After many long conversations with her close friend Jasmere, she decided that she wanted to be her own boss. She wanted to have a job where she not only worked with people to share her love for creativity, but also to help women feel good about themselves, confident in their body image and satisfied with all that being a woman entails. With all of this in mind, Fantasy Fitness Studio came into existence as a place where women can not only work to reach their fitness goals with more traditional fitness classes, but they can also explore their inner sexy with the empowering sensual classes the studio offers. She enjoys spending quality time with her one year old daughter, and loves meeting and connecting with all of the wonderful women that she meets and works with at the studio.
Fantasy Fitness is a physical training business that is centered around the art of pole dancing and has been open for eight (8) months. It has been well received with a growing clientele.
With the help of trainer Jasmere, who has been dancing for two (2) years after discovering pole dancing at a party. Jasmere has been with Fantasy Fitness since its opening and teaches beginners and beginners 2.
Sameila, who is the Dance Coordinator, has been dancing for three (3) years and is self-taught. She teaches all levels of pole dancing from beginners to advanced, and trains the other teachers at Fantasy Fitness.
Aaron teaches both Butts and Guts Boot Camp and Cardio Kickboxing. He is a certified personal trainer and is passionate about helping both women and men reach their fitness goals.
I had a chance to visit Fantasy Fitness and talk with Mari Kai, about her business and the outlook for the future
Where do you see the business in the next 3 to 5 years?
My vision is to grow the business so that we have several different locations… or at least one (1) within the next year or so. Women who come to the Redford location love it and I have often been asked if we plan to open a location in another area, so I’d love to do that soon.
What would you say has been the most challenging and difficult part of getting your business up and running? And how do you counter the perception that pole dancing is just for women who strip for a living?
There have been many challenging and difficult parts to getting the business up and running [laughter]. The first was marketing. Once the studio was renovated and ready to open, we had no clue as to getting ladies into the studio, other than the social networks that we were utilizing. We spoke to many different business owners that were willing to share information and strategies for marketing and eventually, made a connection with a marketing company that now leads us in the direction that we should be going. The second challenge, that is always a challenge, is staying current and competitive. Despite what people may think, there are many other studios of the same nature near our studio, so we are constantly researching the competition to be sure that our services compare or exceed others so we can keep our customer base and attract new business. That also leads to the challenge of being sure that we are giving the ladies what they want and what they need. If fitness is the goal, we want to be sure that they are in fact getting fit. If they do it to build confidence, then we want to be sure that they are. If they want to feel more sexy, we work to offer them sexy [laughter]… It’s just a daily challenge of being sure that the customers are satisfied and constantly analyzing and adjusting our classes and program to keep them happy.
In dealing with the stigma that “women who pole dance just strip for a living” we have proof that is not the case, as 98 percent of the ladies that frequent our studio have never set foot inside a topless bar. They love the challenge of pole dancing, the workout that it offers, the feeling of accomplishment when they master a new spin, or invert, and the confidence that they gain when they explore their sensual sides and look super sexy while doing it…what lady doesn’t like to look and feel sexy sometimes…that is more of what we help the women to do and feel. They gain an appreciation for the bodies that they have, no matter the shape or size and if they want, they work on losing weight and toning but if they are fine with what they have, then they learn to love their bodies, curves, the way they move and so forth. We do get exotic dancers that come to the studio and we treat them no differently. They obviously may have a different goal in mind but we empower women so if that is the job that they have chosen and they feel it is best for them at this point in their life, we help them to do it to the best of their ability by helping them in the areas they feel they need improvement.
I’d like to thank Mari Kai and the staff to Fantasy Fitness for allowing me to visit their establishment and seeing for myself what they have to offer metro Detroit area, when it comes to an alternative in fitness training for women.