My #SAsidehustle was born more from necessity than anything else. During undergrad, what I ate was completely unhealthy but I was in constant motion, so it all seemed to work out. In graduate school I continued to eat foods that were completely unhealthy, but constant motion was replaced by mostly sitting between my assistantship and my studies. Fast-forward to my first job as a hall director and its access to a meal plan and all the pizza parties and ice cream socials my little heart could desire, and I was feeling much older than 24. I was out of shape, tired and ready for a change. I also was overwhelmed at work, having never worked in residence life prior to that position, and hoping to get connected to the local community.
So, the only thing I could think of to remedy all of this was getting to a community Zumba class. I had loved to dance all through high school and college and late-night infomercials made me think that Zumba had to be the answer.
Thankfully, it was. I connected with the local community, connected with a much healthier lifestyle, reconnected to my love of dance, and I had discovered a passion of health and fitness. Within a year, I was a licensed Zumba instructor. Fast-forward a few more years, I’m now a certified group fitness instructor teaching classes both on the campus where I work and in the community where I live.
This part-time side job has turned into one of the best things I have ever done for myself, and for my work in Student Affairs. I have finally discovered a work/life balance that actually works for me. I have also learned to model that balance for my staff. As I have moved up and moved on from my days as a hall director, I have come to realize that one of the most important things I can do for my staff is be an example of what it means to find interests outside of the job. Especially in residence life one can fall into the “work is life, life is work” mentality – and to be frank – that’s just exhausting. My work in group fitness in the evenings has allowed me to “leave it all on the floor”. When I have had a rough day, I work it out at the gym. When I have had a great and rewarding day, I celebrate it at the gym. I have taken this experience to make sure I am asking my staff about what they are interested in outside of their student affairs work and stay connected to how they are engaging in those interests.
Teaching group fitness at my institution also has allowed students, faculty and staff to see me in an entirely different light, and it has absolutely impacted my working relationships. When I hear, “Is that the Assistant Dean jumping around up there?! She’s fun!” I know that this work is challenging my students to realize that I am indeed someone who is more than just the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs.
I love my work in student affairs. I love my work in group fitness. I am lucky to have found two things that work well together. I actually do not feel that I have a primary hustle and a side hustle – I’ve just got two really good things going and I’m thankful for both. And I feel like a better professional, and person, because of each of them.
This post is part of our #SAsidehustles series, which focuses on the SA pros with a second passion. These Student Affairs Professionals transition their mental and physical energy into a project that acts as both an emotional release and some level of supplemental income. From Etsy shops to horse braiding, these stories are bound to make you want to find your “by night” side hustle. For more information, check out the intro post by Tom Krieglstein. Be sure to read the other posts in this series too!