Jeevita Pillai took advantage of lockdown to expand her knowledge of dance and fitness and move her business into the area of African Dance.
What’s your story?
I have been involved in dance fitness for more than 8 years as a Zumba Fitness instructor, a programming director, and a performer. When Singapore went into lockdown, I felt like there needed to be something different in the dance fitness world. I have always loved African dance, music and loved the way it made me feel and push my boundaries. This is why I decided to dive deeper into African Dance Revolution and grow the African Dance Fitness community in Singapore with “Afrowithjeevi – Dance. Connect. Push Boundaries.”
What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me most is how the dance fitness industry is constantly changing and how new forms of dance fitness programmes are introduced into the market. What I love most is that no matter what programme you do, it is always about bringing people together and building a community. I love how that underlying purpose never changes no matter how much the industry changes.
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
Embracing the fact that despite any outcome, personal growth would be a result from pushing beyond. I think it is sometimes easier to put yourself in a box or allow others to put you in a box and feel that this is all that you can do or are capable of. I realised that when you allow yourself to push beyond, amazing things can happen!
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
Consistency and recovery. I think one cannot exist without the other. Recovery may not be considered a skill and may look different for everyone but it is something that I feel has allowed me to be consistent in the work I need to do for the business – from creating videos and social media posts to working on collaborations and creating new choreographies.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Choose your battles” – This piece of advice was given to me by my mother from a very young age. I think I only truly comprehended it when I started working. Whether in business or in life, we will always face difficult people or situations. I learnt that sometimes it is about taking a step back and asking ourselves if this is a situation worth putting our time and energy into or would we rather save it for a battle that actually matters.
Who inspires you?
My clients! A lot of my clients are working mums and the majority of them have children within the age range of 2 to 10. I love that they still show up for my class even after a really long day. I know they are tired but they are showing up for themselves by giving themselves this hour. I feel like it is my responsibility to show up for them and bring my best self to every class.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
I was listening to a podcast by Simon Sinek and Brené Brown, and something I heard that stuck with me was the discussion around why men may make better entrepreneurs than women – the existence of traditional roles where men had learnt the skill of mustering up courage to ask women out, be rejected and then do it over again, translated to entrepreneurship. This is a skill that women traditionally may not have learnt which may have made them fear the rejection and humiliation of failure more than men. I found that very interesting!
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I believe that everything that we do is based on the information and experience we had at that point of time. I think it is important to acknowledge that and have compassion for ourselves. So I guess I would not do anything differently as I acted according to what I knew at that moment.
How do you unwind?
Believe it or not, I sometimes dance to unwind, just to get my body moving and also to allow myself to feel the music and the movements. When I am not dancing, I read a book (currently reading “Think Like a Monk” by Jay Shetty) or journal, something I picked up in 2019. Yoga has been on the top of the list in the past 2 years as well and last but not least, I unwind by making time to have meaningful (and trivial) conversations with my family and friends, especially those living in other parts of the world.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
I used to think that charging a cheaper price would mean more sales and more clients. My dear friend Lavania who is also a dance fitness instructor reminded me that we should never undervalue ourselves and that people who value the quality of your service, would not hesitate to pay a higher price. That was a major mindset shift that reaped benefits!
Everyone in business should read this book:
“Daring greatly” by Brené Brown, because it teaches us about vulnerability and being human. I believe that the human card should never be underplayed or underestimated in business.
Shameless plug for your business:
Every class welcomes you with open arms and allows you to dance freely whether you are a beginner with two left feet or someone with years of dance experience. Every class allows you to connect with yourself and be a part of a growing community. Every class allows you to push beyond your comfort zone – Every class allows you to dance, connect and push boundaries. Every class is an experience to be lived.
How can people connect with you?
Social Media Links?
Instagram, Facebook & LinkedIn – @afrowithjeevi
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.