We had the good fortune of connecting with Mychele Sims and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mychele, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I created a space for people in my neighborhood to be seen. I knew that people would participate and move more with someone who looked like THEM and was from their area. When we see fitness messaging, social media, etc., you will not see the Ebony Queen mom-figure from the Crenshaw district doing yoga, for example. Fun fact is that SHE DOES DO YOGA but the media doesn’t show you that.
So when I set out to be “different” my thought was to teach Zumba, Yoga, Fitness up and down Crenshaw Blvd. At first my company was a joint effort with my best friend Debi and we called our brand of fitness “Grounded Werks.” We chose grounded because we were real and down to earth. I say “WERK!!!!” a lot because I grew up with my LGBT+ family and friends. “WERK” is a statement, affirmation, a feeling that gives energy!
What should our readers know about your business?
in 2009 I was recovering from grad school and I had gained a lot of weight. I had always been a mover. I am trained dancer and I practiced yoga for years. I was missing dancing because I just lost my mojo. My son and daughter were acting and dancing all over Los Angeles, but I was their chauffeur. My friend Jesus Mejia had started a folklorico dance company and asked me to help with choreography. Magically, I had the chance to dance with his company. I danced at the Ford Theatre with my kids and I got LIT UP again.
I started telling friends that I wanted to do more than dance and they suggested that I become a fitness instructor. I thought they were crazy but I thought it would be a great way for me to get fit. Fast forward to me walking on treadmill at the local gym when I heard music coming from the studio. I walked in to a room with great music playing and people sweating everywhere. I looked on the schedule and saw the word “ZUMBA.” I had no idea what Zumba was but I went home to look it up. I loved what I saw and called my friends Stacie and Debi. That is where my group fitness story starts in August 2011. Debi, Stacie and I looked to see what was missing in our neighborhood and what we noticed was the lack of Black instructors with relatable classes. Debi and I said we were going to take over Crenshaw Blvd with Stacie’s help.
Over the years I have taught everywhere AND on Crenshaw Blvd. I have had the pleasure of teaching at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, Lula Washington Dance Theatre, Debbie Allen Dance Academy, boutique and big box gyms as well studios across the United States. This year will be my 10th anniversary of being a fitness professional. It was NOT easy but it was worth it. The bug bit me at 40 and I have only gotten stronger over this decade of experience.
The major lesson I learned along the way is to KNOW YOUR WORTH! The time and effort it takes to study and prepare for classes count! The certifications, conferences and workshops make you a well-rounded instructor. When you bring skill and professionalism to your students/clients, you should be compensated.
I want the world to know that your abilities, expression, diversity, and identity make up your life experience. Your self-care time is sacred. My mission is to create safe spaces where you can be yourself and be BRAVE to try something new.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This is a tough one because I love Korean Spas and the pandemic has changed that experience. I love to go is MAMA SHELTER for cocktails and the Hollywood skyline. I love the Hermanito bar on the west side. We can dance and prance at The Abbey in WeHo. We can walk the beach boardwalk in Venice then eat at C & O Cucina for delicious Italian food. Slurpin Ramen in Korea Town for THEEEE BEST RAMEN. Fiesta Martin Mexican food in Inglewood. We would stay at classic swanky Hotel Figueroa in DTLA to be close to LA Live. While we tour the goodness of South Park, we will workout at MY Pilates studio located in the Petroleum Building.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
SUPER SHOUT OUT TO MY KIDS Andrew and Adriana; my besties Stacie and Debi for supporting my crazy idea to bring relatable fitness classes to the hood. Shout out to Michelle Blake because she made sure I got my professional fitness certifications. Shout out to everyone who have made this journey fun from day one!
Girl Squad, LLC (turquoise pilates, group shots, glasses) Book Your Look LA (yoga blue pants) Selfie – TRX shirt