NEW Pickup Location: Dance 101 Druid Hills

We are excited to announce that Atlanta dance studio, Dance 101, is now a Fresh ‘n Fit pickup location on Mondays and Thursdays between 5-9:30pm! This pick up location will serve the Druid Hills/Toco Hills/Decatur area! For more on Dance 101, check out this fantastic feature on Owner, Ofelia de La Valette from the Atlanta Journal Constitution by Helena Oliverio! To order your meals for pick up at Dance 101 or any other location, visit us online at http://www.freshnfitcuisine.com. Like us on Facebook for special discount codes!

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Ofelia de La Valette was slogging it out on a treadmill when she heard funky music in the distance.

She jumped off the treadmill and followed the music pulsating inside a cardio funk-dance class.

She watched the dancers in awe.

Sure, they were working up a sweat. But they were also swinging their hips, smiling and having way too much fun for exercise.

That was the moment, in the early ’90s, when de La Valette discovered a love for dance.

She was 34, had recently given birth to her second child and was struggling to shed 25 pounds.

She joined the next class.

Timid at first, and unsure whether she belonged in a dance class, she decided to go for it.

In no time, she was hooked. The class was fun, helped her get fit and made her happy.

Within a couple of years, she found a dance studio and enrolled in as many as 12 classes a week — modern dance, jazz, ballet and hip-hop.

She was a beginner but determined. One of her instructors pulled her aside one day and told her: “You missed your calling. Had you started training younger, you would have become a successful dancer.”

About dance, Ofelia de La Valette said: “It transformed me: It rejuvenated me.”

De La Valette didn’t miss her calling. It just came later in life.

In 2004, she closed her insurance business and opened Dance 101, an Atlanta dance studio for adults. She was 46, one month shy of turning 47.

De La Valette is one of 60 women featured in Marlo Thomas’ recent book, It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over! (Atria, 400 pages, $27), a collection of stories about women who reinvented themselves — in many cases, past age 40.

It includes the story of a music teacher from California who, at 56, decided to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a painter (even though she had never picked up a paintbrush before); Natasha Coleman, a 35-year-old sales rep from Panama City, Fla., who lost more than 200 pounds after she was humiliated when she couldn’t fit into her first-class seat on an airline flight.

On a recent afternoon with de La Valette — pretty, poised and relaxed in her dance studio — it’s hard to imagine how many challenges she faced getting her dream up and running.

She is now 57.

She candidly talks about being gripped by fear the night before teaching her first dance class at the age of 44. It was a beginner’s jazz class — at Emory University.

But as soon as de La Valette turned on the CD player and started teaching the class, she felt confident.

“I discovered I was very qualified to teach that Emory class. It was because I learned to dance as an adult that I knew how to teach adults how to move in a way that adults could learn how.

I could break down the steps, like a pirouette, and I could teach them in a way that they could discover they can dance, too.”

One night after class in late 2003, five of her students cornered her in the parking lot: They urged her to open a dance studio for adults, and the group of five — including a lawyer, an IT guy and a marketing guru — offered to help.

Within months, she closed her insurance business and opened Dance 101.

“My family thought I was crazy, but I jumped in and worked 12 to 14 hours a day teaching 17 dance classes a week,” she said.

“I was thrown into the deep end, and it was sink or swim.”

Today, Dance 101 has two locations and more than 20,000 registered students and 40 instructors.

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