HACKENSACK, N.J. — Lateefah Fleming is hoping that after 11 years of teaching dance fitness and yoga classes in rented space in Teaneck and Hackensack, her business will finally be under the same roof.
The "transform-ologist" launched empowerFIT in 2005 as a platform to do just that — inspire. She recently started up an 8-week program called "Lean and Mean for Summer 2016" that draws upon a variety of world dance styles.
Fleming's journey began just after she gave birth in 2000 and decided she was sick of being overweight. But it wasn’t until recently that she started being good to her body.
“If you love your body, then what will you do for it?” said Fleming, formerly of Teaneck. “I had to get over trying to look a certain way and really focus on trying to feel and be a certain way."
West African dance has been a passion of Fleming’s for four decades this year. Her health, though, didn’t become a priority until she sought to drop the weight she put on during pregnancy.
“I decided I had to be healthy for my son and do much better job with myself,” said Fleming, who picked up belly dancing about 1 year postpartum
Seeing women of all different shapes and sizes helped Fleming love herself in her own skin, increasingly so as the pounds came off from the work she put in at the gym.
The spin classes, intense weight-lifting sessions and long runs may have had Fleming at the lowest weight she’d ever been. But she eventually realized it simply wasn’t sustainable.
“My body was being overused,” Fleming said. “Are you really loving your body if you’re beating yourself up?”
Fleming had no choice but to find what worked for her.
Happiness. Peace. Acceptance.
It’s all part and parcel of empowerFIT’s mission.
“Everyone who comes in is all on the same plane,” Fleming said. “You come if you had a bad experience and you want to be good, or if you had a great day and want to keep it going.
“No one is competing. We’re all in this together,” she said.
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