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Podcast Season 2 Episode 6: Lola Donahue
On this episode of the show, I am interviewing Lola Donahue, the owner of the Arthur Murray St. Louis Dance Studio. Lola grew up in Barnhart, MO and went to Columbia College in Chicago for musical theater. She fell into a teaching job at Arthur Murray in downtown Chicago and 6 months later she was promoted to managing the studio.  After 11 years, she was given the opportunity to bring the Arthur Murray community with her back home to Missouri. She has personally seen people’s lives transformed through dancing. Lola knows that dancing changes people for the better, and getting to witness that every day keeps her going! Lola believes there is always a solution if you are looking for it and every challenge is an opportunity to grow! 
E-Mail Address: lola@arthurmurraystl.com
Website: www.arthurmurraystl.com
Facebook: Arthurmurraystl
 
Hello, and welcome to STL Active St. Louis's premier health and wellness podcast. STL active aims to give listeners in the St. Louis area the information they need to succeed and progress with their health and fitness. This podcast is brought to you by stlouispt.com. And hosted by Doctor of Physical Therapy Greg, Judice.
Hey everyone, its Dr. Greg, owner, and physical therapist at Judice sports and Rehab. On this episode of the show, I'm interviewing Lola Donohue, from Arthur Murray St. Louis. Arthur Murray is the most recognizable name in the world among dancers with studios in 22 countries. Here in St. Louis. We're lucky enough to have a new franchise with some awesome owners. Lola grew up in Barnhart, and after 11 years working for Arthur Murray in Chicago, she came back home to share her passion with her hometown. Without further ado, let's get into the interview with Lola. So today on the show, we have Lola Donohue, from Arthur Murray, thank you so much for being here. Thank you. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. This is gonna be great. So tell us a little bit about your background,
My background. So I actually am from the area. So I grew up in Barnhart. I went to junior college at Jefferson did two years of musical theater, fell in love with the arts, did a few musicals, I had an amazing art teacher, Rebecca Ellison, she's still teaching down there. And she came to me one day and she said, you know, if you want to pursue this, and you should, you really should move and kind of expand your, you know, expand your horizons. So I ended up moving to Chicago, transferred to Columbia College downtown, to pursue a degree in musical theater. I was there about a year and a half, two years. And it just really was not for me. And, you know, I did I think what most people do, and took a few months of soul searching and called my parents and who are amazing and very supportive. And they just said, you know, you're really the one in control of your destiny, and you have to pay back your student loans. So this is you're an adult completely up to you, which is a blessing. So I quit school and did some temping around the city, you know, at 23, kind of just figuring it out. And I was getting on a Greyhound bus to come home to St. Louis for two weeks to kind of figure out my life. And on the way to the bus station. I walked down Illinois Street and looked in the window and saw all these people dancing, you know, and it was a Wednesday at 2pm. a normal day. And I looked in and I just thought what, what is this place? Like it's Wednesday at two and there are people dancing, they're smiling. They're having fun. What is this all about? So I got on the bus, I came home, I looked up, you know, and this is before we had fancy cell phones that you could get on the internet. So I looked up the phone number and I called and the woman who answered, said, you know when you're back in town, just stop in. And so two weeks later, I walked in having no clue what I was doing there really because also the joke in my family was that I could sing and I could act but I couldn't dance because I'm kind of clumsy. So really, like had seriously at the time, no idea why I even felt compelled to walk in. But I went in and had an interview with the owner. Miss Jill De Marlowe. And you know, it was the best interview. It was comfortable. It was fun. We laugh now that the moment I walked in, I knew I would work for her because she did my interview in like this really fun, sexy kind of 60s dress with like thigh-high boots. And I just thought I need to work for this woman Who is this woman you know, and so she hired me and I started teaching. So went through the normal kind of instructor training, trained and taught for about six months. And then my boss at the time Choline, she was managing the studio. She was actually leaving to open up her own studio with her husband Brian, in the suburbs of Chicago and Lincoln Shire. So Jill came to me and she said, You know, I want to offer you a promotion. I I just think that you have these skills that are great for the studio. And so I got promoted kind of completely clueless, had no idea really what I was doing. You know, and that turned into an amazing career. So I was at that studio for 11 years, and then had an incredible opportunity to open in St. Louis. So the home office, they're based in Miami. So, you know, there were a few conversations and they said, you know They're Arthur Murray doesn't exist in St. Louis, and the markets completely open. And they kind of just started rolling from there. So, you know, to bring it back home. Yeah, I did. And it. And the decision was not overnight, I think I fought this decision for four years, you know, thinking kind of back and forth. I had a great life in Chicago never thought I would move home ever. My parents, my mom told my dad when she goes, this is it. This is it. She's never coming back. So I think they were really shocked, as shocked as I was. So for four years, you know, kind of it would come up in conversation. And then I'd say, No, you know, I love I lived a block away from the studio up there, was walking to work lived in a high rise. I mean, that was the dream, you know, when I moved there at 20. That's all I wanted. That's all I envisioned.
And I was there, you know, by 31-32. And so it was kind of like, what's the next thing, so I thought that for a long time, and then August of 2017, I woke up and Mark and I went to breakfast. And I just said, I think it's time, it's time to go, you know, and I just felt like, the universe really pushes you towards things that are meant for you. And if you're aware, and you're open, it was almost like it was beating down my door in a way and I kept trying to ignore it. And then in August, I just accepted. I accepted the fate. Yeah. And so, you know, like you said, I think the coolest part about the entire thing is, you know, through those 11 years, I I got to see what Arthur Murray does for community. You know, when my boss when Jill moved to Chicago, from California to open the first studio downtown, there, there was only one studio, and now there are nine, you know, and they have events together. And so you have these events, there are 300 people, you know, so it's a family, it's a community, so to get to bring that and, you know, community was really huge for me. That's the vision. And so that's what was so exciting. You know, I know how it can change people, and I know how it can change a community. And that was what the, you know, that was kind of the driving force behind taking the leap. So here we are.
That's awesome. Yeah, I think but it was kind of like a almost a love at first sight moment when you walk by the studio the first time. Yeah, I go. Absolutely. And you just kind of get stopped in your tracks. It sounds like I
was completely, you know, and it's funny, too. I think. I just remember I remember a plane is day I stood there, and I thought it. Could I be good enough to do that. You know, I don't even know why. Like I said, you know, the joke in my family had always been, I can't dance, you're kind of clumsy. So I I literally had no idea why I was so captivated. Or, you know. So my first thought is, could I even do this? But yeah, it literally was, you know, I think that was something bigger than me saying, because imagine all the streets, I could have walked down. Right? You know, again, this wasn't a day where you have your phone and you're googling. That's a street. I had never walked down at that point. So I feel like it was all meant to be. That's pretty neat.
Yeah. That's very neat. Thanks. So how do you go from being someone who's just walking down the street and captivated by this site at two o'clock on a Wednesday afternoon? Hmm. I know, you kind of said that you went through the steps to become certified as a teacher. Hmm, what does that look like? That doesn't seem like you can just jump right in?
No. Um, I mean, some people can. I think it depends on your level of, you know, if you show up in you've already had 20 years of dance experience, which certainly people do. You know, I mean, this, this environment in job kind of attracts, you know, kind of your typical like, oh, I've been dancing. I've been doing ballet, jazz and tap since I was five. So I think if you if you have that background, maybe it's a lot easier to just jump in and kind of take off. I definitely didn't have that background. Like I said, I you know, there was kind of a chip on the shoulder about, I can't really dance. I'm not sure. I took a semester of tap class in college, one day of ballet. And as soon as the teacher said, you have to buy a leotard for class. That was the day my meat literally no was it that was that was 100%. The day that I knew I would not be leaving Columbia with a musical theater degree. Which is kind of sad, right? Because I think now, when you're older, you just you have perspective. And so if I could go back now, I would say give me the leotard. I don't care what I look like, but at 22 You know, you're so fragile. So that was literally the day. I was like, oh, wow, this path I had been kind of running after is gone. And I have to reevaluate. So. I think for some people, you know, depending on your background for me, it was not it was definitely a struggle. You know, so it's just coming in every day. Monday through Friday. Training learning like literally step by step of the syllabus. So you have to learn, you know, you have to learn how to dance if you don't show up having experience, then you have to learn how to teach, which is a completely different animal. Right? You had the musical theater experience, but you didn't quite have the dance experience, like you've said, exactly. Yes. Is this is all new? Oh, yeah, never yet. No, no, I'm a professional, not semi professional dancers. This is all new. It's all new. And, you know, I always, you know, you meet people that are called the triple threat, right? And musical theater. terms, like, you want to be a triple threat. It was pretty clear. I was not and that was your weeks.
Yes.
100%. So kind of funny now, you know, my entire trip. I mean, yeah, bring it on. Now. Yeah. I'm gonna move to New York now. So you know, it was interesting. So it was just day to day putting in the work, you know, learning how to dance, learning how to teach. And then the other side of that is working on your communication skills. Sales, you know, I kind of laughed, I'm definitely not a salesman, I, you know, up until then I'd had every kind of restaurant bartending job in Chicago that I could have. So I never really looked at sales. So the same kind of thing. I'm not a dancer, I'm not a salesperson. So all of those things I had to develop. But I think the beautiful thing that came out of that was the fact that, you know, I'm always a little bit shocked at how tough it is for people to come in and try a lesson. Because it's very scary, you know, especially as we get older, we're not really outside of our comfort zone very often, especially when it comes to learning new things. So, you know, just being able to have experience with that, you know, like, I 100% know, what it feels like to be terrified. And and wonder, could I even learn this, could I do it? And actually, now I'm really grateful for that, you know, because I think if you show up and you already have those skills, you're not cheating, necessarily, right. But I can talk about that with conviction in a way that I couldn't if I showed up, and I was already a dancer. So I kind of love that.
Right? So you've had to work at it differently than someone who's Yeah, yeah. 100% still working at it. Yeah, very cool. And that kind of gets into mindset, which we were going to talk about later, in the episode here. Just just for the listeners, right, I know what Arthur Murray is, because I went to your open house, I got to see the whole thing. But tell everyone what Arthur Murray is all about. And he said, based in Miami, they've got studios in Chicago multiple so, so kind of what what is Arthur Murray, really all about? What
is Arthur Murray? So Arthur Murray, he was an actual person, by the way, not everyone knows that. But he essentially in the early 1900s, he became kind of this unofficial teacher to the stars, right? So so very famous a fluent people, he would he would teach them. He also started mailing out the famous footprints. So when you see those footprints sometimes associated with with dancing, he would actually mail those out to people. So you would say, hey, I want to learn waltz. And you would, you know, get something in the mail, you'd lay out the footprints. And that's how you would learn. And so he did that. Very fascinating guy, very brilliant, obviously, business minded. And he opened his first franchise. And you know, Arthur Murray is a company has now been over, around over 100 years, we've been teaching people how to dance. And I just, you know, overall, I just, I just love it as a company. I mean, it is community, it's family. We've been around over 100 years. I think that's huge. You know, we've been teaching people to dance for that long, because there's a system in place. And we just know how to do it. That's awesome. Yeah.
So is there any limitation within the Arthur Murray system? Of what type of dance like? Obviously, there was a lot of ballroom dancing at your grand opening. So kind of go into the different styles or what? what all do you do? And that's, I just have a hard time. I'm not a dancer. Yeah, definitely. But what you know, for somebody who might be what, what do you offer?
So we we teach over 25 different styles. You know, so when people think people think traditionally ballroom dancing, right? You're thinking like something like Foxtrot Walton Tango. So those like very sweeping, smooth, elegant dances. So usually when people hear ballroom dance studio, that's kind of where their mind goes, which isn't bad. We definitely teach those. I would say we have a huge focus on just really great social dancing, right? So So What we want to focus on the most or what I'm the most proud of, is taking someone or taking a couple just like you, who, you know, when you're out with your wife, if you're at a wedding, if you're on a vacation, we want to teach you the dances you're gonna learn, that you're gonna use no matter where you are and what you're doing. Right. So that's a huge part of what we do. So I think sometimes when you know, just like yourself, if you're not a dancer, and you're not sure, one of the things that we do when you start is you come in for that first, you know, that first intro lesson, we're going to talk about, you know, your life, how does this fit into your life? What are you looking for? You know, so outside of that, we do teach over 25 styles. So all of the ballroom dances I mentioned, Quickstep salsa, you know, rumba swing, West Coast, East Coast Swing, you know, Argentine Tango, there's a ton. So it just really depends on what you are looking for. The other thing that we do, that's so great that I believe in so much is we really take the time to personalize that. You know, I know, other places might, you know, you walk in and they might say learn these three, right? We want to ask you a ton of questions I want to get to know like, Where Where do you see yourself using this? What are you really coming in for? We take the time to really personalize that. And then, you know, we recommend dances to you based on that. So everybody's program is completely different.
That's great. Yeah. And I think that's important. And that's how I do therapy. Yeah, isn't it? And so I'm always, always on board with the customization. Yeah, rather than just, this is what we do
the cookie-cutter, like, there you go. Yeah, I agree. Cool.
So my only experience with learning dance, okay. is gonna be a good story. You know, right. So, me and my wife were engaged in in weddings, like six or six or eight months away. And so she suggests that maybe we should get dance lessons
lightly suggest,
right? And so I didn't really know what to expect. I'm going in nervous, I don't know what to wear, like, No clue. And so we get in there. And it was really quite fun. Like, we had some songs that we had kind of picked out. And then they were kind of able to suggest beginner-level options based on the few songs that we had selected, right. So it made things very easy, because then it wasn't the awkward, robotic Yes, dance around during the wedding. And it felt very comfortable. And so that meant a lot to her. I know. And, you know, it made me feel less awkward. Yeah, of course, I typically will feel that way. Because she's a music or musical theater person as well, really. But she's got the dance experience. She's got the singing experience. She's you know, she had that experience that I just didn't. Yeah. And so that was that was nice that we were able to kind of get that settled if you will. Yeah, definitely. Before the the big day. Yeah, it was. It was really awkward. Yeah, I'm sure you know, it had no idea what to expect. And it was, it was fun. So
I think I think a lot of couples,
and not always, you know, not to stereotype, a lot of couples are in that same situation, you know, one and it's not always the guy, but one's either way more excited than the other ones, dreading it, or one has a ton of experience and one doesn't, you know, and so really, it's learning, you know, because a lot of people will come in, and they'll say, I've been dancing my whole life, a lot of the women have been dancing my entire life. And that's wonderful. But partner dancing is completely different. Right? So it's taking where you are and your level. And then teaching her how to follow which actually is just as hard as leading right and getting you on the same page. And like we we try to tell couples, you might not want this show-stopping you know, medley of dances, but that's a huge moment in your life, you know, and, and just to have even something simple to do. That feels really good that you guys can enjoy this two minutes, or however long it is where you can literally be at your reception, have amazing pictures, enjoy the moment together. You're not thinking, Oh my gosh, you know, this is awkward, or, you know, I just I think that's so important. And I kind of love that you experienced that. And most of the time, people leave and they say, Wow, that was so much more fun than I actually expected. You know, it's exactly what my experience yes
and that and while I say it was very awkward to just walk in the door. By the time whatever last lesson was, was done. I was man, this sounds good. Cool. Yeah, that's pretty cool. Like I actually learned how to use my feet.
Yeah, I know. Who knew? You know, I think there's either there are a lot of misconceptions. I think one thing is, when people are generally a little bit nervous, I think it's more about skill level, you know, like, once you find out that, it can be so easy that you can do it. I think that's kind of the game-changer, you know. And that's something that I stand behind 100% we literally can teach anyone I've seen it. And you know, as soon as you figure out, oh, I can do this. And I can be pretty good at it. You know, of course, there's nobody wants to do things. They're not good at, you
know, so. And I think there's that definite learning curve, once you can get to somewhat proficient, it becomes way more fun. Yeah, of course, because you can add on to it, and that the biggest issue between me and my wife was that she was used to dancing with people in theater. They also knew what they were doing. Well, of course, yeah. So she was able to follow she knew how to follow. But when I didn't know what I was doing, she was trying to lead and
right. And that doesn't work. We try to always do all the jobs. Yeah. And I would say like that, that is one of the most, for me fun and interesting dynamics, to sort of witness and then work with for sure. You know, although I honestly like probably 99% of the women that come in, they all say the same thing. I just want him to lead. But I also know that I lead all the time, right? You know, so it's like, yeah, that's kind of funny.
Very cool. So let's go back to that mindset shift that we were kind of talking about earlier. Sure. That development of skills, right, talking about it from the business side, right? Obviously, we were just talking about developing skills from the dance side. But how, how do you make that transition where like, I have to learn how to sell I have to learn how to, to run a business, I have to learn how to dance because that was not something that you had and it really
well, I mean, I can tell you the moment it started happening, the mindset shift. So before my boss left, her name is chilling, hi, chilling, if you ever listened to this, so she you know, I was probably 24 totally lost kind of beating myself up that I you know, I was so worried about selling, I'm not a salesman. And I know now and I'm 100% convicted about, you get what you think about right? So I was on this rat wheel of just insecurity not being good enough. She handed me a book. A book called you can heal your life by Louise Hay. And it changed my life, which I kind of laugh because I'm, I'm pretty skeptical by nature. You know, so when people hear the word like self-help book or they kind of shut down, you put up the barrier. Yeah, yeah, you're like, what I don't need help, self help. Um, you know, and again, like, you're led to things that are meant for you, she handed me that book, and I read it, and it, you know, again, not to be cheesy, but it totally changed my life. And it, it basically is a book about how you create your own reality through the thoughts that you think. And the first problem is, is that most people don't take the time to figure out what they're thinking about, you know, our rat wheel of, of thoughts. We get up in the morning, and it's like, I don't have enough money, I have to pay this bill. I'm so stressed out. And your day starts like that. And so your internal monologue is kind of like, you know, those that I don't even know what they call it on the news, like on the bottom, the scrolling? Yeah, yeah. But yeah, I was gonna say ticker tape. That's not right. But the ticker thing, right? If you start to realize that your inner monologue really is like that, right? So the first step is, is being becoming aware of what am I actually thinking about on an on a minute by minute, moment by moment basis. That's the first step. Second step is learning the tools to stop yourself. So now that you've become aware of what you're thinking about, how do you stop the negative thoughts? And not necessarily stop you? They're always going to happen, right? But how do you put them on pause and change your focus? You know, and so that's kind of what the book centers on and just learning about how we kind of carry around our baggage from our, from our past and our parents. And so we kind of just recycle these old thought patterns, right. So usually what what you think about a subject about bosses about politics usually comes from your family. Well, where do they get it from? Their family? So it's, it's learning? You know, what are the programs I'm truly running? What do I actually think about some of these topics, right? And so like, it's kind of a self discovery of that, and then it's, and then from there, it's learning how do you literally change your thoughts when things are going bad? Because they do. How do you change that? How do you turn it around faster? So you're not you know, something bad happens. You don't have to be in agony for days and weeks. You can really turn it around. So she gave me that book. I don't know. She just she gave me that book a few things about happened at that time in my life. And I just really got excited about like, Who am I as a person? What do I think about these things? And so it was just from there learning how to get the tools and use those resources. And, you know, now, opening a business, I, I'm so grateful that I have those tools, because honestly, in the last year getting this open, if I didn't have my mindset under control, I have no idea what I mean, I don't even know what I would do right now. There's so many, you know, you want a business, so many things, you know, the grand opening, honestly, best night of my life, on probably almost 200 people there. I mean, you were there so much love. The next day 10 bills, I didn't know that I had, you know what I mean? And so it's like riding the wave of this is the most amazing thing and five minutes later, oh, your loans behind already, you know, just stuff like that. So if you don't, if you don't get your head under control, right, because your emotions come from your thoughts. If you can control your thoughts and redirect them. You know, it's just so much easier. So I'm so grateful for that setup. And I truly believe all of that happened to get me to this point. And I actually feel really, really kind of bad for people that don't have that under control. And then you know, you're making these snap emotional decisions and reactions, because you're just kind of on autopilot, you know. So thank goodness.
And you know that that kind of brings up a point I actually just this past week, I got an email from a going to be new grad, physical therapist. She's not done yet. And she's trying to figure out what to do with her life. She got connected to me through my colleague. She's wanting to potentially open a practice right out of school. If I would have opened a practice right out of school, oh, my god that would not have gotten. Can you imagine? I can't, it seems so far fetched. Like there are times when I think, Man, I wish I had a few more years of running a business under my Yes. But I would not be where I am now without the experiences before this. Right. And that's exactly what you're saying is had you not had the opportunity to, you know, have that that random walk down Illinois? Yeah, for what, right? Had you not had the opportunity to read this book and to meet your mentors and to meet these people, then you wouldn't be who you are?
No, I wouldn't. I mean, and I would be a way bigger mass than already the sort of mass that I am doing this? Um, no, but you know, I mean, that's, that's, that's totally true. And I think one great thing. Well, many great things about Jill, that on the studio, you know, she always said that, and she always said, you know, it's human nature, like, we always want to be on to the next thing, you know, and especially now, like, everything's instant gratification. So everyone, excuse me, everyone wants the, the $2 million studio or, you know, whatever the next number we want to hit is, and she was always really great about reiterating. You know, go through the channels, don't skip certain things, and just go and open a studio, you know, get into the studio, do every job that way when you're training, because, because it's just gonna be you, you know, and when you and you have to train everyone how to do all those jobs, you better have done all those jobs. And I see some people now or they might open one studio. And a year later, they're trying to open a second studio. I I'm a little bit in awe of that, you know, like, take the time and be be easy with yourself and and get it going. You know, there's I just look at it as a recipe. You know, I was I was a whole recipe, all these things were being added that I didn't know about, you know, and think. Thank God, they were because I would, you know, I don't know, I'd go crazy, right?
And so now you're kind of in the position where you've added all things to the recipe. Well, now it needs time to marinate.
Yeah, we got to let it marinate. Right.
So you can't make any rash decisions or huge changes right now. Correct. It's let do the right things and let things fall as they may. Yep. Well, the right things, in my experience have been relationship building. Yes. And so we were talking about sales earlier. Mm hmm. Neither of us are very salesy. People definitely
not my thing,
right. I don't want to push someone to do something that they're not ready to do. But it's building the trust-building the relationship. And so that's been a huge thing for me, and I'm sure it's the exact same for you based on a conversation we've had before. Oh, yeah. Just when someone new comes in. What do they what do they need? Yeah, and I think that's, that's huge, you know,
and it's it for me.
Again, I you know, I always had this trait and now I know I have it because I really believe I was led to do what I'm doing. I'm always fascinated by people in general. So even the meaner you are as a person, or if you're rude to me out of nowhere, instead of being offended by that now, and don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I have days where I'm easy, I'm offended, right? But after that I kind of go, I want to get inside your head. I want to know why. Why do you react like that? So to me, anyone I encounter, everyone's got a story, you know, and you just never know what's in someone's head. I had a guy Wednesday, who walked in, never met him, right, walked in, he had a British accent, and so nice and kind and, and he said, Do you have 10 minutes? I said, Well, of course. And he already as soon as we sat down, he was completely surprised and floored at the level of how open and warm I was, and that the step everybody that you know, are teachers. And so after talking to this guy for 10 minutes, you know, he kept kind of talking around. And I said less, like, What do you want? Tell me what you want. You're here for a reason. You're here for reason, you know, and it turns out, this man is from Manchester, England, he bought a house on the border of Baldwin in Manchester. But one of the Manchester address, right, which I think is awesome, and hilarious. So he has a passion in his soul for this apparent like underground 60s, soul music that was in England. Nothing that we you know, not mainstream. And there's a dance that goes along with that. Apparently, I've never heard of it, right. But he pulls up these YouTube videos. And this man, like, this is his soul. This is the thing he loves more than anything. And he says, I just, I'd love to have a party. I don't your facility. So beautiful. And and, and I get that it doesn't fit in. You know, and I'm already laughing because I'm like, this is an amazing idea. It's not about fitting in dancing is dancing. You don't have to do ballroom dancing.
And I was gonna say your facility doesn't scream like, Oh, you can only do this here. Yeah, yeah, no anything,
literally, you know, but again, we're while everyone has their own filter of what they're thinking. So he has this apparent vinyl collection, thousands of vinyls that he's been, he's been collecting. So he wants to have a party. And he had been to I believe, another studio two, and just for whatever reason didn't pan out. And I said, What about the last February, you know, February 28, the last Friday? And I mean, his eyes? He was so excited. And you know, right away? Well, I don't know. I don't know what we can charge. And I don't know if you'll make money. And I don't and I said I don't care about any of that. I don't care about any of the awesome. It's gonna be fun. I want to do it right, selfishly, I think it sounds amazing. So just a level of like, the fact that he felt heard and that someone validated that what was in his soul was exciting, you know, and he told me said, my wife. He said, I'm not a Facebook, but I've been looking at your Facebook page. And I know about your corgis. And I know that you're having Valentine's Day party, right? So even though you might not know that people are paying attention, people are paying attention. And he said, my wife thought I was crazy for coming in to meet Lola. And she said, This woman's gonna think you're nuts. And he's like, so I actually sat out in the parking lot for 10 minutes, figuring out if I was going to come in and my
cell phone.
Yeah, we psyching himself up. So. So anyway, so I, you know, give him a tour. And he's so excited. And then I, I tell our teachers, I say, guys, February 28, last Friday, we're gonna have this party and their first thing out of their mouth. Can we dress up in theme? And he looked at me and I was like, of course, because I live for a themed party in a costume. He was like, gonna cry. Right? And so he's so excited. He stated first dream that he's not even sure.
Yeah, be a thing. Yeah. And into
there it is. It's manifested. He had ever dreamed. Exactly. You know, and, and he's like, it might be small. And I said, less, less, even if they're, even if it's us. And you and you're playing this great music. Well, my parents will be here because I'll drag them. Right. It doesn't matter how big it is. It's positivity, you know, and how happy he was he left and probably went home. happy and excited, which is great for his wife. Right. And so that's how it happens. So, relationships, you know, that's what I love. You have no idea what's going on in someone's head. And that's why I like to talk to everyone. I like to be kind to everyone because you never know. And that's just a perfect example. That's awesome.
Yeah, very cool.
So get your London outfit.
You know what I have on February 28. And that's why I can't be there.
I know. I'm sorry. It will have many more. Trust me.
Absolutely, yeah. Cool. So I know, when we've talked before, you've said how special The community was. Yeah. Chicago facility? Yes. What do you? What are the strategies, I guess that you guys use to build the community here? I know you guys are new. So it's kind of hard to, to see what else might be there in terms of connections between your clients. Right. But is there? Is there a strategy that you guys are using? Or is it just the relationships you build, kind of create the community within itself?
I maybe. I don't know if this is bad, it just is what it just is.
I don't have a strategy. The strategy is being kind, being compassionate, teaching anyone you know, that works for us. That's the number one mission. So strategy, not really, you know, I can tell you, so this is a great example. We're doing construction. I look out the window, and there's a woman watering our flowers out front. And so I run out because I want to meet everyone, everyone that I'm going to see consistently, especially right I want to know that. Just like the mailman. So I run out and I meet her. And always kind of funny to have people are a little bit taken aback when someone approaches them and just wants to get to know them. Right. So she, she seemed a little skeptical at first, because I popped out and I said, Hi, I'm Lola, you know, this is my place, and amazing kind woman, you know, so we're talking and everyone loves to talk about dance. I mean, I'm also kind of spoiled. What I sell in quotations is so amazing that I never really feel like I have to do any selling. Everybody should dance. So it's easy. It's fun. It's fun, right? So she, so we're chatting, and after 10 minutes, she says, Oh, my gosh, I am so happy to meet you. I'm so happy you're here. This is just wonderful. What you should do is go up to the park district and meet Kat and meet Stephanie and meet the girls that run this park district. And I didn't know I'd have driven by shorter Parker, but I didn't know what it was. And I'm the type of person when someone tells me to do that I'm going to do I'm not going to say I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it. So I literally got in my car after that and went up there and met these amazing women that run the park. And, you know, again, I kind of probably look crazy. I'm like, I'm, I'm opening the studio. Is there anything in the community? I can do? Right, and everyone first thing kind of people say as well. You know, I don't know how much of of a profit or what you know, that has nothing to do with it. I want to teach outside of what I'm doing. Is there anything in the community that I can do whether it's teaching a class a month, class every six months? What can I do? What are your ideas, so I left and we ended up having a meeting later. And they had started this dance class. On the second Thursday, we had one but I got snowed out and then they got rescheduled, but it's once a month and it's for seniors in the community. And they show up and it's a $5 class, and I teach them jitterbug or I teach them whatever. So our first class was supposed to be three weeks ago, we had that snow day. So I went last Thursday, again, not knowing what to expect only two women showed up. And when we're talking about mindset, right?
What's the first thing it's like, bummed there,
you have to get out of that and do what you know is best, right?
So you know, I, I I'm like, well, let's do it. You know, you don't need them. We don't have a partner. It's only us. I said I can teach you to lead and you to follow. Let's do some dancing. They were so fun. And I've never met two people more excited to get something right. Right. I taught him a symbol like to underarm turn combination. They were happy. They were excited. And then I get an email from Stephanie, saying they went to the yoga class chair yoga after that. And we're just saying how amazing it was. And so five more people signed up, you know, so when you talk about relationships, it's it's not a strategy for me, it's,
it's just who you are,
well, any interaction like I want to I want people always who encounter me even if it's for five seconds to walk away smiling or walk away saying wow, and you know, that person's nice. And when you do that, and that's your intention always beyond anything else. The relationships really they just happen and they fall into place. And so I'm never thinking you know, how do I do it? It's just doing it by being kind and compassionate, which sometimes kind of sounds crazy, maybe but it's literally worked for me every step of the way. You know, and so now we've opened, we're not slamming busy, but I'm seeing the connections happening and I'm you know, people are walking in and they're saying, well, I talked to so and so at the park district. And you know, that's how you build it.
That's awesome. Yeah. Shout out to the parks department there.
What's up parks departments?
They are super helpful with the start of the Manchester business.
Yeah, they're great. Yeah.
So you've mentioned multiple times like the transformations that people can make. Yes. through dance or through just experiencing Arthur Murray. Yes. So you've given the story of less? Well, yeah, I'm excited for that party. Picture. He's amazing. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. But maybe give us another story of kind of someone who didn't really know what they wanted, didn't really know what they expected. And then see them thrive. And at the
end, so I'll give you two there, I'm there a lot. But to come to my mind, always. So we had a student, her name is jakara. And she came in, she started dancing. Kind of the same thing. I mean, when I had first met her, I didn't, didn't know a ton about her, you know, because sometimes people's level of openness, like sometimes you'll meet a student, and they tell you everything. Other times, students don't necessarily know why they're showing up to dance or what it can do for them. So it's kind of like this unfolding process. jakara is a doctor and she delivers babies, successful, powerful, incredible woman, which is also what I love about my job, I'm meeting amazing people. And so she had been dancing, and I don't even know how this came up. But one day, she just said, you know, in my life, I'm so like, kind of in my, in the zone in the work zone. This is the first time I felt like a woman. This is the first time I feel feminine. And that's huge. You know, especially for women who maybe, you know, might be in like, kind of a male-dominated or even energy, like, we have to be in our masculine energy, like getting things done, you know, type a go, go go. And just to hear the way that she talked about how this was the first time she felt sexy. The first time she felt beautiful the first time, she felt like a woman, you know, again, things I take for granted. And I just remember that story. And just the way that she looked telling it, it was really powerful, you know, and now like literally, she's on Facebook right now she's in Egypt and Morocco riding a camel looking fabulous. Right? And, and all of that comes from the confidence that comes from doing something like that, you know, because it's kind of a self-discovery. But my favorite, like I said, there are a million, but my favorite. So I actually just got back from Chicago yesterday. One of our most favorite students, Robert nakazawa. He's a legend in the Arthur Murray world. So Robert came in to the downtown studio. He was 83. And I hadn't started yet. So this was before my time, he walked in to take a lesson because his wife told him he could never waltz. And so she passed away. And Robert was looking for, you know, something to do to kind of keep him busy. And said that he was I guess, trying out or auditioning groups, right. So these like social clubs for for people his own age. And he said, all they want to do is go out and drink. And I you know, that's not me. So for whatever reason, he you know, he came in, he took a lesson, my very good friend, Amy, who also owns a studio now in Chicago, she becomes his teacher. So at 83, you know, you can imagine I'm thinking of myself 12 years ago, as a teacher looking at this really cute little Japanese guy, you know, who's 83 walking in and you're thinking, oh, gosh, how's this gonna go? What? Yeah, this is gonna be a mess. I can only imagine.
You know, but he he took a lesson and
started at three got his passport, for the first time, I think a year later. So he lived never traveled because I think his wife didn't want to fly, didn't want to travel. So he gets his passport. And he and Amy, he decides to do his first dancing competition. And I forget where it was. But you know, and within Arthur Murray, another amazing thing we do is take students on competitions. So you know, you're going to places like Venice, Rome, Hawaii, you know, and dancing all weekend. So it's kind of like a dance vacation. So Robert gets his passport for the first time and he's competing. Well, he loved that. So we went to the next one. And he went to the next one. You know, so I show up 12 years ago, and start working with him. And you know, he's at the studio every day. He comes in, he sits in his chair. He does his crossword puzzle with his Snickers bar usually and he literally is the studio, you know, he's just a part of the studio. So he danced that entire time traveling You know, making all these memories wouldn't get a dog. He actually said, I thought about getting a dog, but what would I do with it? Well, I'm at the studio, so we never got a dog, which I think is so funny. So, you know, there are a million Robert stories, but the what's so impactful? right before our grand opening in November, so I get a phone call from me. And he's fallen, and we all know. So now he's 98. This year, this point, 98. And he takes a fall. And we're like, you know, it's kind of one of those things. You don't want to put anything out there. But also 98 I mean, that's a long time. You know, and and also, I should say, up to this point, I think like four years ago, so maybe it around 90, you know what, 9495, he passes his driver's test again, and pulls up to the studio in Chicago with his new sports car. Right. And we're thinking, Okay, your license renewed? We were We were praying like, you know, I don't want to see him not have a
shirt. Take his freedom away in this but but at
94, could you imagine being in the DMV and like seeing him roll up? That's all I was thinking about. So. So this is a guy who when we talk about, like, he lived on his own this entire time, so we're not, you know, he's not in a retirement home yet. He's dressed, he's traveling the world, he is dancing. And the guy who kind of takes care of his financial things, you know, just kept saying, guys, the only reason he's having this quality of life is because he's dancing. And he has something to live for. And it's a community and it's a family and he gets exercise. He has a purpose. He's he's being challenged. He's using both parts of his brain, you know, and there are a million studies now about what dancing Hindu for people with like with Alzheimer's and all these incredible things are coming out right about how
Parkinson's?
Yeah, absolutely. So it's huge. So, you know, so this is a guy that's doing all those things still well into his 90. So, you know, there's always that kind of paying of like, you know, it's coming at some point, but you don't want to think about it. So the fall happens. Yeah, so the fall happens. And so he ends up in the ICU, you know, and so, so I go up to Chicago, and I go to the hospital, and I, I've been very, very blessed that I've never seen anyone in the ICU, right. And so that was kind of a new, new thing for me. And so he's there. And you know, it is it's hard to see someone that you've that's so full of life, and you're looking at him and but you're also going, man, if I could go out like this, you know, I mean, he, he lived more of his life in the last 15 years dancing, I think, than he did the entire time. So I, you know, I spent a little time with him, other students were coming up to visit. And so when I went up, you know, we said, let's, let's print out some of his dancing photos, and just kind of decorate his room. So we decorated his room, and the nurses are coming in and people you can see, like, they're, they're looking around, and they're very confused, right? And they're saying, what, what is that? Like, who is this guy? You know, because, to a certain extent, he's 98. On paper. He doesn't have any living relatives, so I'm sure they're kind of like, all sad, you know, this lonely guy? Well, no, you know, and so, we're showing them videos. And then they're like, when was he dancing? When was the last time he was dancing? And we're like, last Tuesday. I mean, he literally is in the studio, you know. And so, Sunday morning, I went up really early, like 6 am, just to have a few minutes before I got in the car and drove back to St. Louis. I just wanted to just to sit with him alone, right. And so the nurse walks in, and she's she said, I gotta tell you, the nurses here are just like, bewildered. And we can't believe the quality of life. She said the guy that, you know, there's a guy in the next room who's 50. And the only reason that he passed away Is he gave up he didn't have anything to live for. And he's 50 Roberts 98. And, yeah, family on paper. She's like, but look at this family, you know, and that's what we are. We are his family. So, you know, I left that day, he kind of opened his eyes, you could tell he could hear what we were saying. And I left, you know, kind of having a feeling. That's probably the last time I'm gonna see him, you know, and that's okay. But it was very sad. Well, I get a phone call Two days later, he's up awake, and they're sending him home. And, you know, in a way I wasn't surprised I you know, I'm like, well, that's a Robert I mean, a badass for this. He's a badass. Yeah. And when I'm telling you when I saw him Sunday, I mean, work, you know, not to be grabbed, but like we're feeding tube and breathing tube and so to hear like, from that day to a few days later, he's he's going home was, you know, I just had to smile. I'm like, well, that's Robert, you know, and so that so the week before our grand opening, and also has caretaker kept saying, he just keeps telling me he's got to get better because he's got a party to go to and St. Louis, which of course, makes you cry, right? Because that's so amazing and beautiful. And he also loved the Cardinals, by the way, they were his favorite, which I think is funny. So the week before the grand opening, so on Friday, I get a phone call. And he, he made his transition. So he passed away, but he passed away at home, you know, so he wasn't in the hospital. And I think the most beautiful part of that whole story is that his teacher, Amy, who was his best friend, she had been doing some traveling that week. So she hadn't been home that last week. He goes home, and she goes to see him that Friday, and goes to his apartment, and you know, they have a conversation, she hugs him. And he passed away an hour later. So he waited for her that whole week. You know, what a beautiful gift, like, you know, we talked about and it's sad, but, but it isn't. I mean, again, when we talk about a perfect exit, like, within the company of Arthur Murray, this man is a legend.
You know, anybody listening to this is probably thinking, Man, what a good way to go, oh my
gosh, if we if I can be 10% as lucky as Robert, you know, so. So just this Friday, you know, I was up there again. So So Amy threw him you know, like, because there wasn't a funeral really just like a small service. So she threw a celebration of life party at her studio, and just the years of photos, you know, there's a 20-minute slideshow of photos videos. And, you know, my parents had pointed out, they're like, look at the picture of him at 83 to 98 he looks younger, and more vibrant at 98 than 83. You know, and so when we talk about transformation, yeah, there are other transformations, weight loss, which is amazing to you know, and couples rekindling and but to me, that's my favorite story, because I got to see that and, and witness it and be a part of it. And, and, you know, Saturday, the life celebration, just how many people were impacted by him being happy because he had this family of, you know, of dancers that just took care of him. I mean, he went to competition once we get they get to the competition, and I get a text from my friend, and they say, the only thing Robert packed in his suitcase was a sombrero. Literally, a sombrero. I think they were going to it was either Mexico or Puerto Rico. He opened his suitcase. And that's all he packed. And what's so amazing about that, besides that, that's so funny. Is, is people you know, people gave them close to where people I mean, wherever he went, you know, there's a legendary story where he went overseas to dance it and competition. He's at the Paris airport. And I don't know if you've been through that, or it's huge, right? You could get lost Well, he gets lost. He's wandering through trying to get on this flight. And another student from another part of the country happens to be in that airport, walks into the gate, and he gets on the plane. I mean, that's one of a million, you know, Robert stories, but he was just always taken care of. And people loved him because he was happy, you know, and he was just living and, and so and so I just love that. So there's a picture of him, you know, right next to our desk. He's looking at everyone. That's every day, so yeah, cool. Yeah, that's my favorite one.
That is definitely a great yeah, transformation. Yeah. Because I mean, he could very well, you know, gotten the cat or dog or whatever. And just been every call today, right? Yeah. And a lot of people do. Absolutely.
But he did not take that as his final straw and just push through.
Yes. Yeah. It's a great story. Cool. Yeah. Cool. And, you know, he's around. He's listening now. Kind of laughing probably that I'm telling the story. His legend lives. His legend lives on. Yeah.
Very good. So we're getting close to time here. So I know you have something to offer the listeners and we'll get to that in just a second. Is there anything else that you wanted to mention or discuss before we get to that?
Um, I don't think so. You know, I just think just, again, reiterating how grateful I feel, you know, to find the perfect space in this community.
But let's talk about that then. But yeah. When I moved to Manchester, that space Yeah, I've always admired just how cool that space was. Yeah, with so many huge windows and it's the perfect location. You can't miss it. You have to pass by right and Chester road. Yep. And it has sat empty for years. Yes. And it's always been frustrating. And I wish that I had a big enough business to move into that. I know you're like the fifth person who has told me that everybody wanted the space. It's It's such a great space and so to see you move in there and transform it into the coolest studio I've ever seen. The biggest chandelier custom floors. I mean, it is so nice. Yeah, and I know you guys use it for lessons and dance, but it's open for other other events as well.
Yeah. I mean, we I think, you know, party planning or you know, space rental wasn't really on the forefront of my mind. Definitely. But the response has been really interesting. You know, people come in, and, they're blown away. And they're like, can you host parties, you know, we hosted a birthday party for an 18-year-old girl last month. And, you know, we host the party, but we can also like teach group classes and, you know, get people dancing at the party. So you know, space.
I just love it.
I saw every day, you know, I walk in, I'm just so grateful because it took a long time, it took almost a year of of looking at spaces all around St. Louis. So I was still living in Chicago, coming down, looking at space on a weekend driving up working, doing it again. And you know, my dad was kind of laughing that the first day we looked at space, there was a great space. I think it like over by de pair. It was in a strip mall, nothing wrong with it. And he said, you could have this and be open in six months. And I said I could. But that's not the vision, and I'm not settling. And it'll be harder, but I kind of know what I'm looking for. And I know it exists. And I know, I know. I know, I know. There's always something better and that's hard to write. So we actually had a space in Webster groves for six months that we kept waiting and waiting and things just didn't materialize. And so, one day I just thought I'm moving past this, you know, people can believe it. Because when I get my mindset on something, that's it, you know, I'm planning where I'm gonna live in Webster, everything's in Webster, and I just let it go, you know, and literally, that night not even kidding. Got on loop dotnet this space came up. I went and I looked in the windows and it was everything that I wanted a little bigger than I wanted a little more expensive. Of course, obviously. Always
Welcome to real estate Welcome
to Yeah, that's a huge education you know, but it checked all the boxes, tall ceilings, Windows all around the parking lot. That's huge has done parking lot. So to learn all that and then get excited but not too excited because you're not sure if it's gonna work out. Then I meet Melanie next door who are owns sincerely bridal. she the one watering the flowers. No, this was Sally, Sally's the Sally's in charge of all the flowers around Manchester. So you've probably definitely seen her. But Melanie owns the bridal shop. Then I meet Melanie and Melanie is my same age. And so we're both women business owners, and she's fantastic. And she's a hugger. And so am I and so the first day I'm like, this is just getting better and better. And then we meet the landlord, who's a woman who owns this building, and is just so excited that it's dancing.
Well, and they had had a deal on it, I believe for a few. Yeah. All had fallen through. So
it was for me, it was waiting for me so so yeah, the space, you know, it just it, I'm just so happy and so grateful to, to get to be here and, and really, you know, be in a community because I know it's gonna change the community. It just takes time. So to find such a great place, and then meet people, like you are so open and loving and say come do a podcast or you know, and then come to the grand opening. And I just, I'm I just have so much gratitude. And I'm just really excited, you know, for people to even just stop by, you know, just stop by and say hi, and yeah, that's it.
Yeah. Well, if they wanted to do more than just say Hello, yes, let us know what your offer is to the listeners right now.
So we do a $60 consultation and intro lesson, right. So that's for anyone wanting to come in and just try a lesson and see how it goes. And we offer those Tuesday through Friday from five to 9 pm. And Saturday from 11 am to three. So that's the easiest way to get started. Just to come in and try it out. I don't think we'll have any trouble convincing my wife to
do I would Yeah, probably not. I she probably she'll be on board. I haven't met Yeah, I'm imagining.
Yeah, maybe we can get it done for this releases. And then we can have pictures. Perfect. Perfect. All right. Anything else?
No, just Thanks. Thanks for having me. I've never done a podcast before. This has been very exciting. There you go.
Glad to be the first Yes. Thank you. Well, thank you so much for being here. Lola. Happy to have you and this has been STL active.
Thank you for listening to the STL active podcast from stlouispt.com. If you enjoyed the show, please spread the word. Thanks again and see you next time.

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