At 29, Cari Brown decided she wanted to be more active and more social. She took up dance lessons as a way to meet both goals, and within three short years she had exposed a natural talent for dance and began working as a full-time professional dance instructor. Now, she’s looking forward to dancing in Chattanooga’s version of one of her favorite shows, Dancing with the Stars.
HS What got you into dancing?
CB I just really felt like I needed a social hobby. I was obsessed with Dancing with the Stars, and I was pretty active, so I thought it would be a good fit. I went to my first, complimentary trial lesson and fell in love with it! I took lessons for two years and as soon as the school had an internship open up, I took it. Then I just transitioned into being a full-time instructor from there.
HS What’s challenging about dance?
CB Well, I think it’s both a challenge and a benefit, but it forces you to interact with people and open up. It’s great because it builds relationships and strengthens mental health, but I was very shy (which I’m not anymore!). It builds confidence and trust. Ballroom dancing is a partnership and you have to be vulnerable and trust your partner completely. So it really strengthens your relationship with your partner.
HS What do you love about dancing?
CB It’s daily exercise that is really fun! It’s a lot more fun, for me, than always going to the gym. I struggle to stay motivated in going to the gym every day, but I always look forward to dancing!
HS What does dancing do, specifically, for your health and wellness?
CB It has greatly improved my balance, flexibility, self-confidence, endurance, and persistence. It builds your overall happiness and gives you a sense of achievement. And that builds confidence!
HS What else do you like to do for your health?
CB Well, we live in such a beautiful city, honestly, I just love to get out and walk around. I try to take daily walks with my mom. I like kickboxing and circuit training. I really just like to take everything in moderation – exercise, nutrition, mental health – I just try to make good choices and not put too much pressure on myself.
HS What are some future goals you have, for dance and personally?
CB Well, I’d like to improve a lot of specifics in dance: my flexibility, expand my knowledge of styles and genres, help build the studio, be stronger, and come up with more creative activities for my students. I’d also like to participate in more professional competitions. Personally, I really want to travel – Latin American countries would be exciting and a great way to learn other dance styles (salsa, merengue, cha-cha, cumbia) and to work on learning Spanish!
Photo by Med Dement