“The first and foremost important thing is to move your body daily!” With Ming Zhao & Ziba Lennox

The first and foremost important thing is to move your body daily! On the days I skip my workout, everything seems a little tougher and less focused. It’s not about staying thin or burning calories, it’s about mental wellness and weight and strength will follow. At times it feels like wellness or elevating one’s well […]

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The first and foremost important thing is to move your body daily! On the days I skip my workout, everything seems a little tougher and less focused. It’s not about staying thin or burning calories, it’s about mental wellness and weight and strength will follow.

At times it feels like wellness or elevating one’s well being, is diametrically opposed to high achievement and high performance in one’s career. The stress, mental energy, long hours, lack of restful sleep and preoccupation that result from a high-achievement life seem to directly inhibit wellness. And yet, in order to sustain the creativity, flexibility, mental acuity and resilience that are necessary for high performance, wellness and wellbeing of the mind, body and soul are also mandatory. So how do we achieve both? This is the question I’m hoping to answer through conversations with high-achieving leaders and influencers who are practicing their own philosophies about how to maintain their wellbeing.

As a part of our series about “Social Media Influencers Share Their Top Self Care, Wellness, and Beauty Tips, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ziba Lennox

Ziba Lennox is a Chicago based, lifestyle blogger and cofounder of MaZi Dance Fitness. Ziba is also a mom of two boys and a host for Fashion News Lifestyle Network. She grew up dancing ballet professionally, and went on to pursue an MBA in Finance at the University of Rochester. 11 years ago, Ziba combined her love for dance and her business experience to open MaZi Dance Fitness with her sister, Marisol. They now have an extensive online fitness platform, and Ziba also frequently collaborates with fashion, beauty and wellness brands that she believes in.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory of how you came upon this career path and to where you are today?

Myfirst love was dancing ballet, and I dragged my whole family into it. I danced professionally since the age of 12. Ballet allowed me to travel and see parts of the world that were very different than my hometown of El Paso, TX. I’m a first generation Mexican American and my first language was Spanish! My parents really stressed education so I got a Bachelor and MBA in Finance (mostly while still dancing) and worked for corporations such as Target & Best Buy before launching MaZi Dance Fitness with my sister in Chicago 11 years ago!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

No question it was my parents and ballet teacher. My parents instilled education and showed up for my siblings and I to drive us to ballet, to workshops and anywhere that we needed to be. They never backed down. Now being a parent myself, I can see how hard that is to execute an am so much more appreciative. My ballet teacher, Ingeborg Heuser, grew up in Germany during WWII, she was tough. She would tell us stories of continuing her dance training in war like conditions with bombs dropping and have no food or essentials and still carrying on a mission to develop into an artist. She was extremely demanding of us, and especially me, whom she gave a full scholarship to, in order to get my dance training. I would not have the drive or work ethic I do now, if it weren’t for her and my parents.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

When I first started MaZi Dance Fitness in 2009, one of the mistakes that we made was to assume that we weren’t gonna make it. That might sound insane, but it was a recession and we had no entrepreneurial experience. We thought of it as an experiment and something we “had” to do because dancing was my sister and I’s calling but we didn’t assume success. We just worked really hard. What we learned is that even if you start something without thinking you’ll be successful, you need to craft an exit strategy or milestones. Once we realized we were not going anywhere, it was 5 years in and we had to reaccess some strategy.

As an influencer, you have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. In fact perhaps most people who tried to follow a career path like yours did not succeed. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed? You have to do it because you’re passionate about sharing something about yourself that will help people. It’s really not about you. If you do it because you think you’ll make a lot of money, you won’t be successful. You have to love it so much that you would do it for free, especially because it’s almost a 24/7 job. Successful influencers do it because it’s a calling of sorts. ☺

Can you share with our readers some of your strategies you’ve used to build an engaged, loyal, and large online community?

You have to get involved in the conversation. Many new influencers assume you can just post something and leave it there and have people come to you. You have to answer all comments, support others in your niche and community and always view “competitors” as “collaborators”. Ask questions, get on stories and talk about your day, passions, new finds, helpful hints. Build a friendship with people. Also, instead of seeking the next follow, just try to retain the audience you do have. They are already there!

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview. In my work, I focus on how one can thrive and care for oneself in three areas: body, mind, and heart. You are a busy person with a demanding schedule, can you share with our readers two self care routines, practices or treatments that help your body thrive? (Kindly share a story or an example for each.)

The first and foremost important thing is to move your body daily! On the days I skip my workout, everything seems a little tougher and less focused. It’s not about staying thin or burning calories, it’s about mental wellness and weight and strength will follow.

The second is gratitude! Especially right now, with all the shelter in place and disease threat, we have to bring joy into our heart by being grateful. I love to breathe deeply through my belly for 5 mins and think about what I’m thankful for. Likewise, it’s the first and last thing I think about when I wake up.

Can you share 3 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Dance- the mindbody connection with music, endorphins from moving and getting to know your body are a surefire recipe for feeling beautiful.

Giving back- you’re only as beautiful as your deeds and your heart. When you give back, volunteer or give someone a compliment, the boomerang effects are astounding.

Is there a particular resource, a practitioner, expert, book, or podcast that made a significant impact on you and helped you to thrive? Can you share a story about that with us?

The first is my friend and holistic guru Dr. Pontarelli from Windy City Wellness in Chicago. He really helped me understand holistic wellness and what it means from a practical standpoint. 8 years ago I was having a hard time sleeping, waking up, looked bloated, had chronic migraines and constantly felt injured from my workout classes. He worked with me to balance my adrenals, change my eating habits, and be kinder to myself. All the maladies kind of melted away.

I also liked “Kiss your doctor goodbye” by Dr. Elke. It’s about living Candida free. Whenever I have chronic conditions, I do her cleanse and it goes away!

Do you have a story about the strangest, most bizarre or funniest wellness treatment that you’ve ever experienced?

Probably with Dr. Pontarelli. Spinning in a chair while snapping my fingers in one ear to fix my migraines. He solved a month of daily migraines and an inconclusive MRI by balancing my brain with these types of exercises.

As an influencer, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. I would say to always look to how you can make someone smile. It’s as easy as giving someone your smile, an simple, true compliment or helping them feel like they’re “seen” and not alone. I think making that a daily practice is important and as mentioned earlier helps YOU feel beautiful.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂

Vanessa Bryant, Guiliana Rancic, Elise Loehnen, Reese Witherspoon, James Nord

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

@zibalennox on Instagram, www.dancingmamastyle.com blog

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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