Anna Kaiser has danced all over the world, from being a member of Donald McKayle’s company to the national tour of Fame the Musical to Disney’s Enchanted and Shakira’s “She Wolf” video. Also a successful choreographer, she crafted movement for events for ABC, New York Fashion Week, Reebok, and Time Magazine. A lifelong dancer, she always felt movement was her medicine, helping her grieve her father when she was just 12 years old.
When she taught her first fitness class in 1997, she found another outlet, noticing how her dance friends needed a pressure-free place to share and celebrate the energy of dance. She soon followed that new direction for her passion, and that eventually led her to her sensational, blended approach, incorporating dance and strength conditioning, through Anna Kaiser Studios. Now, she’s offering classes in NYC, Connecticut and East Hampton, as well as online, all while raising her kids and running her empire. Read on to learn more.
SBS: What was your journey from dance to fitness like?
Anna Kaiser: As a professional dancer and artist, the science of movement has always remained at the core of my work. After my years studying movement mechanics, kinesiology, and anatomy in college, I went on to receive my certifications in pilates, yoga, and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. I studied Functional Anatomy for Movement for Injuries (with cadavers) at Mt. Sinai, and TRX while working with and learning from many fitness pros and companies along the way (Denise Austin, Beachbody, Reebok Sports Club, and The Sports Club LA). I tried every fitness fad and workout in the market, and I realized there was a huge void. Each studio was focused on teaching one modality. I found myself traveling all over the city to get everything I needed in a comprehensive program. So I set out to create a concept that combined the programming of a personal trainer with the community and energy of the boutique concept. And I have never strayed since! It’s the only thing that makes me feel strongest in my skin and completely conditioned.
SBS: What are your tips for someone starting their own business, and what advice would you have given yourself starting out?
AK: First of all, don’t think about making money. Find something you are good at, work at it so diligently and intelligently that you become the best at it, and the business and money will come. But the focus needs to be the work, not the end result. Your work/business will probably morph and change many times before you land on the final result, but it needs to be rooted in expertise and integrity. You may even find that you want to partner with people who embody different strengths than you do, instead of doing it on your own.
SBS: How do you interweave the different facets of your life?
AK: I try to compartmentalize during the week (work during the school day), and focus on my family on the weekends. But it never ends up being quite that organized, so when things overlap, I just breathe and integrate the kids into whatever is happening. I think it is very important for them to see what happens behind-the-scenes. It gives them a greater appreciation and understanding for what we do on a day-to-day basis to make all the magic happen. And thank god I have an amazing husband who is a true partner in everything, and a nanny that we love. She really is a second mom to my boys, and we are so grateful for her.
SBS: What are some of your lessons from work that you carry into motherhood with you?
AK: You will never please everyone, so you have to do the work to focus on what is really important, and stick to it. Keep an open mind, but listen to your gut. Never stop learning! And always lead with love.
SBS: What's been your favorite aspect of being a mother? How has it changed as your child/children have grown?
AK: I love the conversations with my kids these days. It is amazing how they can say the simplest things that cut right to what is really important. That stops me in my tracks and reminds me to take a step back when the little details in life start to get overwhelming.
SBS: What's something you've discovered about yourself through being a mother, and how do you mother yourSELF?
AK: I’m starting to take 10-minutes increments during the day to find stillness. A walk through Central Park, a power-nap, reading a book I’m excited about are all ways to turn off the noise and listen to what my body needs. Especially in NYC where we’re constantly stimulated and there’s always something we should be doing, it’s even more important to find ways to turn it all off so we can tune in and turn on our self-care switch. That allows me to fill myself back up for everything and everyone else.
The Best, Zaniest Part of Being Anna: I may break out and dance at any moment! It just takes the right song!
Anna’s SBS Mantra: Be Happy. That is what I believe designates true wellness in body, mind, and spirit.
Anna’s NYC Faves:
Healthy Restaurant: Peacefood Cafe
Splurge Restaurant: The Milling Room
Fun Activity: Central Park Zoo with my kids
Calming Activity: Facial at Knockout Beauty
Fitness Studio: Anna Kaiser Studios
Yoga Studio: Bode NYC
Athleticwear: Alicia Keys for Athleta
Athletic Shoes: Adidas Ultraboost
Books: Live Wire by Kelly Ripa
Online Resources: The Atlantic