We had the good fortune of connecting with Portia Lange and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Portia, what do you attribute your success to?
Perhaps the most important factor behind my success and the success of Belly Motions as a brand, is the teaching methodology that I have pioneered, developed and implemented over the years. The Belly Motions teaching format fuses fitness principles, guidelines and group exercise protocol with authentic Middle Eastern dance (Belly Dance) movement and music allowing myself, and my team of trained instructors, to reach the masses. This method serves to inspire, motivate and empower women (and men) of all walks of life and allows anyone to learn how to belly dance for the simple joy of it. In addition, the classes provide a low-impact, safe and effective workout which is very appealing to many populations. In other words, with our method and approach, it’s never too late to learn how to belly dance and get some physical activity in! Our eldest client, Cheryl, is 75 years old and attends daily! Our participants feel beautiful, learn a skill, improve their balance, coordination and cardio-respiratory systems. It’s a win-win for everyone! In 2010, I took the format to the next level and submitted to be a fitness program provider offering continuing education credits for nationally certified fitness instructors. The Belly Motions Belly Dance Fitness Program was approved and is the only belly dance fitness program in the United States approved by the Athletics & Fitness Association of America (AFAA). Although we are a niche business, our teaching methodology has allowed us sore. And best of all, the Belly Motions teaching method has enabled us to empower thousands of participants bringing joy, friendship and new-found self discovery. It’s extremely rewarding.
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.
I experienced my first belly dance class at the age of 22 while a student at the University of Florida. I was mesmerized, inspired, and horrible, literally, I couldn’t dance if my life depended on it. After a few months of classes, belly dancing gave me a sense of self, a purpose and I was determined to move to a metropolitan area and become a belly dancer! I wanted to empower others, to allow them to feel the way I felt when I danced. So I moved to Miami! With a dream, a few thousands dollars, and a lot of anxiety, I founded Belly Motions on December 20, 2004. I was young, naïve, green and had no idea how to run a business. What I did have was passion, talent and determination. There were ups, downs and all arounds. I learned mostly by trial and error, “baptism my fire” as they say. Many mistakes lead to self discovery (“never doing that again!”) and eventually growth. At one point the company was generating almost $500K annually. Fast forward 15 years later, Belly Motions has allowed me to sore as a performer, entrepreneur and fitness instructor. I’ve had to opportunity to travel the globe teaching and performing and have taught at national and international fitness conferences reaching thousands, I hold the First-Place title in the global Belly Dance competition in Cairo, Egypt and have been honored as Miami Herald’s Top 20Under40 Emerging Business Leaders of South Florida. I have appeared on four covers of ELLE Oriental, the number one fashion magazine in the world and have been featured on local and national networks such as TLC, HGTV, Telemundo and Univision promoting the art and benefits of Belly Dancing. I was also selected to participate in the Goldman Sachs 10K Small Businesses Program which taught business owners skills to grow their businesses. Looking back it’s been one incredible ride. And perhaps it were easy (or easier) I wouldn’t feel as accomplished. I believe the trials, tribulations and even triumphs have contributed to being more appreciative and wise…and that’s priceless. Some advice for future business leaders! Start young. Take risks before you have huge responsibilities (high expenses, children, family, etc.) Be you. Be unique. Be honest. Invest. Once you are generating income, invest, invest, invest! HAVE FUN!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Living in South Florida is like living in another country. It’s part of the U.S.A., but if you didn’t know it, you’d think you were in another country. Miami, specificially, is full of color, life, unique experiences and yes, traffic!, however with the incredible weather year long, palm trees, and sunset skies, it just excludes tropical. And the people? Exotic, energetic and vibrant! …and they know a thing or two about fashion! Let’s say I had a friend visiting, I would for sure hit up these spots! Wynwood, Miami’s art district, houses some amazing art deco buildings and galleries, . When here, I must eat at the Mandolin Aegean Bistro. A mix of refined Greek and Turkish cuisine, it’s tantalizing. Their rose water sangria is to die for! And of course there’s Merrick Park that houses upscale shops and several fantastic restaurants in a posh, open-air mall. I truly love a Sawa, a Mediterranean and Japanese restaurant and lounge. Not only for their unique menu, but for the live belly dancing shows they host on weekends. Fantastic. The Frost Museum of Science in downtown is.just.incredible. Talk about a new age and modern take on museums. This place is fun for adults and kids alike! They have hands-on exhibits beyond your imaginations (literally), wildlife and planetarium centers and a full service food / café (believe it or not, the food was excellent!) For those who love the beaches…well, Miami Beach is one of the most beautiful in the world! White sand, golden tans, and teal blue water, it just hits the spot. And directly behind the beach rests Ocean Ave, or “the strip”, which is layered with outdoor restaurants, bars and lounges playing the latest Latin beats while fashionistas strut their stuff and inspire the rest of us to update our wardrobes! It’s caliente!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
While we cannot name just one participant, we want to say “Thank You!” to ALL of our participants for your years of trust, companionship and support. YOU are what makes Belly Motions so special. Thank you from the bottom of our hip scarves!
Suifer Artistry Alexandra Molina Art