Candice Dion Braxton has a gentle presence as you sit and talk with her, but, make no mistake, she has a true commitment to fitness, which she pursues with an incredible ferocity. She began her fitness journey in 2008 when she took her first step on a treadmill. At that time she was working as a Nanny and the woman for whom she worked had a small home gym, where she encouraged Candice to start working out.
Walking on the treadmill led to working out at the Inches-A-Weigh gym, a weight loss center for women with toning and exercise equipment. Loving the feeling of being fit, Candice branched out and started working out and taking classes, specifically Zumba, at the Tuckahoe YMCA in Richmond, Virginia. Not only was she shedding pounds, but she was also learning the ropes of lifting weights and dancing her way to excellent health by taking Zumba classes. And, she was good at it! Over the course of about 2 1/2 years she lost well over 100 pounds.
Candice lost well over 100 pounds. And, she did it the old-fashioned way: with Diet and Exercise!
But, what about Zumba? Candice is very modest in her answer to that question.
“I really enjoyed the classes and I kept improving. Everyone in my class kept encouraging me, so, I decided to take the course and become a certified Zumba instructor.” She started teaching in 2011, right after becoming certified. At first she was leading classes part-time, but that all changed in 2013 when her job ended, and she felt like it was a God-given opportunity to pursue her passion for helping others become physically fit.
How does a Zumba teacher come up with music and the routines? That is a big question, because each instructor has their own style. Candice likes to mix latin, soul, hip-hop, middle eastern and more. “I listen everywhere I go. If I hear a song I like, I’ll look it up on my phone and save it to listen to later. Music means so much to me and I like to mix it up, with different styles of songs following each other.”
Packing studios has become the norm for Candice. She teaches corporate classes at:
Capital One, Altria/Philip Morris, Dominion Power and the Department of PublicServices. These Zumba courses, held at workout facilities on their respective campuses, are for the benefit of the employees. Candice also teaches at two YMCAs in Richmond, and then, there is “Dancing With Dion.”
“Dancing With Dion,” a series of Zumba classes that is open to anyone, brings hundreds of people in every week. Candice has worked with many local businesses to establish her own dance studios. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays she leads her students through swinging, swaying, marching, twirling, moving and shaking, thoroughly enjoyable Zumba routines. These classes are spread out, so, you can take one of these Zumba classes held at workout facilities in Midlothian, on Forest Avenue or on South Laburnum Avenue. *Candice has worked with many local businesses to rent out different spaces for her Dancing with Dion Zumba classes.Her work routine is dizzying, too, because she is an instructor, fitness trainer, Certified Natural Health Counselor and a DJ.
It’s true that music, fitness and health have combined to make a very full life for Candice. Her love of music and dance spurred her to learn how to spin records, mix sounds and start a business as a Disc Jockey. She is completely self-taught and has purchased all her own equipment so that she can go anywhere to liven up the party. She loves to see people get up and onto the dance floor! Gigs include weddings, birthday parties, celebrations of all kinds and middle school dances. Candice smiles when I ask her about DJing for Tweens and Teens. “I have had to acquire a whole different set of music for them,” she laughs. “But, I honor every request that they give me! It makes me feel so happy to see them having a good time!
When asked what is one of the most gratifying aspects of her very multi-faceted career helping people, Candice reflects, “My students range in age from 5 years to 80 years old, it’s a very diverse group. I think that being able to teach people who are older, younger and don’t look like me, makes me a better teacher.”
And, what of goals for her burgeoning business? She smiles, and says quietly, “I would love to have my own fitness and health center one day, where I can teach, counsel people on natural health and more. But, that’s a ways away.” In the meantime, we all twist and turn, shuffle, shimmy and salsa and sweat off the pounds to Candice’s righteous playlist and feel a lot better after every class!