Ryan Grovey currently is a National Trainer for the newest group fitness programs called MIXXED FIT founded by Lori Chung out of her studio Dojo 3 in the greater Washington state area. Want to know more about the Ryan Grovey? Read The Interview and find out about this passionate and talented fitness instructor!
TDR: Ryan, thank you for taking time out of your very busy schedule to discuss your world with me. Let us begin with your parents. Who are they?
RG: My mother, Patricia Yvonne Grovey, and my father Trenedy [“Trent”] Schavaz Grovey graduated from Oklahoma State. Soon thereafter they married and moved to New Mexico to work in the oil fields. My father was a petroleum engineer; my mother worked in another facility. She had a dream of working with children. People told my mother that she was was not going to make it. She started out in Washington Heights Nursery [in Hobbs, New Mexico], and such was her success that the Mayor of the city helped her to realize her dream. Her classrooms grew. To this day she owns Washington Heights Nursery, and has a staff of about 100, and has about 500 children enrolled.
TDR: You are a major player in the newest dance fitness craze its founder Lori Chung named MIXXEDFIT (MF). We’ll move into a discussion of that workout later in the interview; but for now let’s focus on your foray into the fitness industry.
RG: I’ll begin with school. In junior high I played basketball and football from seventh to ninth grade. Really, I was like the shining star! Here I was this little 9th grader playing with all of the senior players. I knew early that academics were it, though. In sports, I was treated better than others; I wanted to turn in my homework when coaches told me I did not have to. Then in high school, my 10th year something changed: I felt like I really wanted to do strictly academics.
TDR: What are “strictly academics”?
RG: I continued to play but I noticed I slowly was walking away from sports. I became involved in student council, and the students elected me class president. Then, I stopped playing sports altogether my senior year because I wanted to be all involved with my class. I was in charge of the senior prom; I selected everything for that event. I worked closely with the principal. Still, I earned a grade point average of 3.8.
TDR: You graduated from high school with a strong background in sports and academics but you have not mentioned anything about being a dancer nor even taking a dance fitness class during those years. When did dance fitness catch your attention?
RG: I never was a dancer nor was I ever into the dance fitness industry. Well, one time I did teach a hip-hop class to young adults but dance fitness was never something I endeavored to do.
TDR: So, after high school …
RG: I enrolled in New Mexico State University. I don’t know why but during one of my trips home my mother suggested to me to take a Zumba fitness class already happening at her place of business. Let me pause for a moment to say something about my mother: she is my best friend! She is my heart. If not for my mother, I would not be where I am today. I have seen her realize her own dream of owning a childcare center when people discouraged her and told her she would not make it! Now, she owns Washington Heights Childcare facility in Hobbs, New Mexico. She manages a staff of 100 with an enrollment of approximately 500 children.
TDR: What a wonderful homage to your mother …
RG: Thank you. I was home for Christmas, and I tried two Zumba classes at Washington Heights.
TDR: Zumba? So, is Zumba your first intro to dance fitness after the Hip Hop class you taught?
RG: Yes. It was. After I left the Zumba classes, I borrowed my mom’s Zumba DVD’s, and practiced the routines with my roommates when I returned to college after Christmas break. That summer, I took the instructor’s class the whole time I was home. My mother noticed and said, ‘you have a talent! You are super good at this. Let’s see what it takes to become an instructor.’ I thought she was crazy! But she and I, along with 2 other staff members registered for Zumba Instructor training held in Albuquerque. I received my certification June 2009 at the age of 19!
TDR: You became a Zumba instructor. Did you start teaching right away?
RG: Yes, but it was kind of sad because my father passed away in May 2009—a month before my Zumba certification. He really didn’t get to see my success! He sees it now, though!
TDR: Would he have supported this endeavor?
RG: Well, dad was very sports oriented because he was a basketball and track star in high school in Duncan, Oklahoma. He was state champion in track and was all district in basketball and football. Basically, we had to do what he did. He had certain rituals he required that were bound up in his Christian beliefs. Dad was like “we’re going to church and bible study” and he loved sports. He enrolled me in sports camps, and even after mom and dad divorced during my sophomore year, he would encourage me from the sidelines.
TDR: Your mother is an entrepreneur; your father, was an athlete, an engineer, an actor, and, from my research, a political activist. You were brought up by talented and focused parents who for certain inspired your own interests. I am particularly interested in the lessons you learned from your father as he cheered you on in sports.
RG: He instilled in my sister and me an appreciation for discipline and for practice. He said, “I’m going to make ya’ll successful, and he did. My sister is an anesthesiologist! I have been owning my own business since I was 20 yrs old.
TDR: It’s your first class teaching as a Zumba instructor. How did that feel?
RG: I was so nervous!! My girlfriend was there, and I was freaking out just from the nerves! That class was a success, and that gave me confidence to develop as an instructor and grow my business. I started expanding like crazy! I taught at a nutrition spot on a patio—pretty ghetto but I did it! I taught at all of the gyms here [where is here?]. I even taught it to my frats Kappa Epsilon. I ended up co-teaching with a cheerleader from Hobbs High. As my reputation grew, people encouraged me to open my own studio, and I did! My grandfather and my mom supported me through everything.
TDR: Now you have your business. You are an established Zumba instructor. How did you grow your business?
RG: I applied for a Zumba Jammer* in 2011 because I always wanted to be a Zumba education specialist [ZES]. I loved Zumba! But I didn’t make it, and that shocked everyone. I was like ‘whatever’ because I felt I needed to push harder. The second round 2013 I made it, and it helped that the organization outlined exactly what they wanted to see in the audition.
TDR: You resigned from Zumba in 2014, and in January 2015, you danced right into the newest craze of group fitness called MIXXEDFIT (MF), founded by Lori Chung. What drew you to this particular program?
RG: A participant in one of my Zumba jam sessions in New Mexico(?) asked for a MF demo, so I contacted Lori and she agreed. The demo so inspired me. I was like OMG! This is what I need in my life! The door has opened. This is my new beginning! I determined right then and that no one was going to come and do our training but the CEO! My career started in MF.
TDR: What is it about Lori Chung that fuels your enthusiasm for the program?
RG: I appreciate her interactions with her instructors and trainers; she promotes them as she promoted me on her Facebook page when I was going to do a master class. Many group fitness programs do not offer this kind of attention to its instructors and trainers.
TDR: Your mother saw something in you and encouraged you to become a Zumba instructor. Lori saw something in you, and asked you to be a MF Trainer. How does the belief these women have in you affect you?
RG: Well, mom did not want me to leave Zumba but she accepted it finally and supported me. You see, when I was a Zumba Jammer, people would say to me always “Ryan you should be on those [Zumba Fitness] videos” but I never had that chance. Lori respected my talent, and she asked me about my own vision … my own desires, and went about seeing how these could be brought about. Now, I have a national crew, and some of them are master trainers with MF … As for my mother, I watched the process she went through to own her childcare. Her determination … her discipline—all of her strength let me know I can do it too! I own my very own dance studio!
TDR: You were part of the Zumba industry for about 4 years, yes? Now you are a MF Trainer. What is different for you?
RG: Lori started this program listening to her people who were requesting more Top 40 music. She listened. We are people inspired. Of course people are going to say that there are millions of Zumba instructors and conclude that MF is just another Zumba program. MF is not Zumba. It is not Jazzercise. Before Jazzercise there was TaeBo founded by Billy Banks. Now here we are: MF. I encourage people to take more classes. Believe me, the difference will be noticed.
TDR: The common denominator is dance and choreo. What are the particular differences?
RG: MF uses only American Top 40 music. We are not Asian, Latin, African … and our moves? Our moves are explosive! They are huge and powerful! These are the features of MF that separate our program from all others.
TDR: How are you using MF in the community:
RG: My goal is to change lives. For just one hour, I give my all to my students. You never know what is going on with anyone and that’s why I teach to make a difference.
TDR: What are some of your personal goals outside of fitness?
RG: I’ve always wanted to have a family with about like eight kids! My mom is like “I want a grandchild!” Now that I am a national trainer with MF I have been travelling and training with new instructors. Right now I want to live Ryan! I just want to be free but one of these days, yes. I keep telling myself I don’t want to be an old father. I am single, and this gives me a chance to live my life … to live my dream. I’d like to see where it takes me!