Meet Edmee Cherdieu D’Alexis, a zumba expert and founder of the hot New York based fitness company Z CLUB NY. Edmee came to New York all the way from the French Island of Guadeloupe to become a dancer, but instead, fell in love with the world of fitness. Over 15 years later, she is one of the top zumba instructors in the fitness world and the owner of the very successful zumba fitness company Z Club NY. Read our convo with Edmee as she discusses the challenges of being a business owner and how her love for zumba began.
How did your love for dance begin?
I was born in Guadeloupe therefore, I’ve always loved tropical music and dancing. From what I remember, my parents always told me I was kicking my legs and jumping the entire time growing up. It was something that just happened. Then, I started taking classes for dance. Of course I went on and trained to learn the technique. It’s funny because I’m about to turn 40 and I’m not going to go back to professional dance but it’s very interesting that I still have the same passion when it comes to movement and dancing. That’s why I love zumba so much.It’s a special dance style and I’m still able to keep the same energy and passion for dancing through zumba. I always managed to keep dancing and movement around me because it’s a very important part of my life.
When you moved from Guadalupe to the States, how was the adjustment?
It was tough, I moved at a very young age. I moved when I was 21 and when you’re 21 you feel like there’s so much you can conquer and that you can do everything. People always tell me “oh my gosh how did you do it”, but when you do it, you’re just in the moment and you’re not thinking about it. When I came here I didn’t have any family and my English wasn’t too good. I had the same story that every other dancer trying to make it in New York had. I found myself getting a whole bunch of side jobs,waitressing and living in some little apartment. It was tough, but I had made up my mind that I was going to stay here and find a way. I just always knew that somehow, someway I was going to be okay.
How did you transition from dance to the fitness world?
I came here to dance, but the dance world is a very competitive world. I was good, but I wasn’t great. I had to be honest; unless you’re one of the great dancers and you join a professional dance company it’s hard to really make a living out of it. I eventually went into fitness in my late twenties. I was really lucky to meet some affluent people in the fitness world and some of the top instructors in New York City at that time. I just loved the energy of the NYC fitness world. In the late 90s, there was nothing like taking a cardio class, but at the same time I was still taking my professional dance classes. But fitness classes were so fun and they didn’t have the same pressures of the professional dance classes. One day one of the fitness people told me “we’re always looking for teachers, why don’t you apply?” One thing came after another and I wound up teaching dance. I always liked teaching and sharing what I loved and being able to help people reach their goal. So discovering the world of fitness helped me share my love for teaching and my passion for dance.
What prompted you to open your own fitness studio and teach zumba?
I discovered zumba when I was doing group fitness management in LA and right away I fell in love with the program. That was about 8 years ago. Zumba was just coming to New York and it was one of the hottest things on the market. I really liked what they were doing. From there I moved onto Equinox where I am proud to say I helped them develop their zumba program. I helped them select teachers as well as teaching a lot of Zumba . That was great, but then something in life happened. I had my second child and I wanted a little more. I wanted to have something of my own. I thought to myself that there was no place in New York where you could take all the best zumba classes any time and on any day and I wanted that. It was always a thought in the back of my mind but I didn’t really act on it. But I had a very good friend, Claudia Salem, who is also my business partner and she would come and take my classes at Equinox all the time. One day I started telling her about my little personal idea which was to have all the best zumba instructors and classes under one roof. She loved the idea. She’s a very business oriented person and she said, “You know what, I can help you do this.” From there we developed the business plan and then it all happened.
As a business owner, what has been the biggest challenge that you’ve faced thus far?
One challenge is keeping it fresh and keeping clients interested. Also, coming up with new ideas can be challenging. We take chances and we take risks trying to come up with new ideas, but at the same time we want to still stay true to what we are. Our entire business is based on a very simple phrase and that is “have some healthy fun.” So we want people to become healthy and for them to have a good time while they’re doing it. It’s really that energy that we want to give. We want you to come out of a zumba class dripping in sweat from head to toe, but also smiling. Another challenge is we don’t own our own physical studio, so we try to keep our same standards while operating within these different studios. That’s probably the biggest challenge along with keeping things fresh and new for our clients.
Contrary to the challenges, what has been the biggest accomplishment you’ve experienced thus far?
It’s great, for example, when we do a master class and we get to see all the people that come out. Sometimes I catch myself and I’m just like “Wow!”, we are able to bring about 80-100 people out for the same reason. That’s always a great feeling. This past year we actually ventured into a new project and that was creating a retreat. The first retreat we did was at the end of May and we went to Haiti for three nights and four days to an all inclusive resort. We did two to three zumba classes a day. We actually had 23 members that came down to Haiti for the trip. The trip was completely sold out and we had a blast. We had zumba classes everyday on the beach as well as some excursions around the resort. We’re doing another one to Guadeloupe, the French Caribbean, where I’m from and that’s at the end of August. So that was a new idea we came up with.
What future endeavors can we look forward to seeing from you and Z Club NY?
We (Z CLUB NY) would like to keep on growing and expanding into other areas. Right now we are only in Manhattan but we would love to take it out of Manhattan and eventually into other states. That will probably be the next step. Our idea is to brand and have our classes at as many locations as possible and really be able to grow a strong team of instructors.
Do you have any fitness tips for the #PYNK Girls?
It doesn’t matter what you do, any #PYNK girl that is looking to take care of herself should get moving. I hear a lot of people make excuses, “Oh I don’t have this, or I don’t have that”, but everyone has a pair of headphones, everyone has a phone with music. Just put your sneakers on, get outside, and start moving. Also, find something that you like to do. My thing is dance, but that may not be what all #PYNK Girls like. Find what you like to do, do it with friends and just get started. Working out doesn’t have to painful, it can be fun and I believe every woman can find something they like to do.
Find out how you can take classes with Edmee at http://zclubny.com/