We had the good fortune of connecting with Yasmin Venable and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Yasmin, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I have always been a bit of a risk taker. The perfect risk serendipitously places me in the right place at the right time. The nature of risk is uncertainty and that creates fear. Most people shy away from fear, but fear often motivates me. It forces me to over believe in myself and bring an extra sense of confidence to the task at hand. That jolt of confidence brings out the best in me and gives me an urgency for success. With risk there is also a fair probability of danger or failure and despite my parent’s fears, I have never been one to retreat from danger or failure. I acknowledge the prospect of failure and calculate if the loss would be too much to bear. When I take these calculated risks, I dive into my self trust. Trusting the power in myself to manifest and the universe that the desired outcome will come into fruition. I am currently in the midst of a major risk. This fall, I took the leap to leave my secure jobs in Pilates studios in the city to teach for three months in Accra, Ghana. I can’t say that I was not a bit terrified to leave all my comforts and journey to West Africa as a single woman. It’s been a few weeks now and so far the adventure has been fruitful. I am making great connections and illuminating my mind. I am exhilarated to continue this exploration and see what further benefactions this expedition brings. “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” – Muhammad Ali
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My brand is two fold: I am both an artist and fitness instructor. My art is cathartic; in its process of creation, in its performance, and my intention is for the audience to feel likewise. I am a classically trained dancer in several styles, however my most avid modalities are modern and contemporary. When creating a work, my objective is not to create aesthetic shapes or movement, nor is it to be ostentatious. I take the issues I see in my community, as well as the ones I am facing personally, and create movement articulating my opinions on the conflict. It took me a long time to be confident in myself as a dancer and choreographer. As a dancer, it was challenging for me to get to where I am today. I started ‘late’ at the age of 13, and did not have the preferred physique. I also trained in many spaces that were not designed ‘for me’, which I felt and many of the instructors often reminded me. It was hard work, determination, and consistency that engineered me into the dance technician I am today. Overcoming obstructions in the dance world and in life as a black woman, has inspired me to speak for those who are muted in society and share stories that people repeatedly sweep under the rug. As a fitness instructor, I have adopted a similar principle. I teach for all bodies, no matter body type, facility, fitness level or age. Accessibility is a key component to me as an instructor. I find joy in teaching and helping people feel better physically, mentally and spiritually. It fills my heart to make a positive change in my clients’ lives. I use my creativity extensively as a fitness instructor. I design classes and sessions that are fun, engaging and different. In parallel to my technique as a dancer, my fitness instruction focuses on anatomical alignment and using correct form. Despite my brand being binary, it is quite unidirectional. Yasmin Venable the artist and Notnormal Fitness the fitness brand are universal and intentionally succour.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I absolutely love New York City! It is my favorite place in the world. I would suggest arriving in late spring or early summer. My tour would start in no other place than Harlem, strolling through the spirited streets. We would stop at local shops and community staples such as the infamous Apollo theater and boutiques like Calabar Gallery. Then grab bites at Maison Harlem or Famous Fish Market and ice cream for dessert at Sugar Hill Creamery. Thereafter, we would browse at the Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market and check out all of the exquisite street art on our stroll. Exploring Central Park would be my next must see. In Central Park we would see the waterfall, rent a boat at the Loeb Boathouse and lounge/sunbathe in Sheep’s Meadow. We would have to take a whole day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as it is my favorite museum in the city. Next stop would be Midtown. Starting at the Shops at Columbus Circle, then passing through Hell’s Kitchen for drinks and food at Patron and whizzing through the theater district in hopes to get reasonably priced tickets for a broadway musical, my favorite being the Lion King. We would then sprint through Times Square and Herald Square so that they can feel the vibrant energy of the busy city. Afterwards, we would travel further downtown to the Village. The Village has a great artsy feel and my favorite spot is Washington Square Park. Before departing the Village we would get crystals or other ornaments at Crystal Garden. For nightlife, I suggest the Lower East Side, my favs are Pianos and the DL. Also, a tour of New York would not be complete without stopping in Chinatown, we would have to get onigiris at Harper’s Bread House. Lastly, part of the itinerary would include a day at Governor’s Island concluding with watching the sunset at Battery Park.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would be nowhere without my mother. No matter what I decide to do in life —even if it contradicts her counsel — my mother has always been there to support me. If I ever need equipment, financial subsidies, medical console, candour advice, or any other assistance you could think of, she has perpetually been there for me. She is at every performance and takes every class I teach. I owe my success to her! Shoutout to Apryl McNeil aka mom.
Image 1 by myself Image 2 by Anna Kuzmina Image 3 by myself Image 4 by Chaisefitness Image 5 by Nkenge Brown Image 6 by myself Image 7 by Hisae Aihara Image 8 by Nkenge Brown Image 9 by Nkenge Brown