At Gymbox, we’ve got something to keep you busy, however you like to move. But with Rhythm Master Trainer DeeDee Abdullah around, one thing’s for sure – you’ll be doing it with sh*tloads of attitude. There’s not many gyms that throw in its own dance school as part of the deal – so whether you’re a studio regular or choreo-curious, step this Shway. We’ve got someone who’d love to meet you…
What does your role as dance Master Trainer at Gymbox involve?
As the Rhythm Master Trainer, I oversee instructor auditioning and collaborate with new talent, supporting their journey as an instructor by providing training, mentoring and upskilling workshops. I also work closely with the creative team to develop new and exciting creative class concepts.
There are so many opportunities to get creative with the dance category. I get the chance to work with incredibly talented specialists and create exclusive concepts that you can’t find anywhere else!
How were you introduced to Gymbox and how long have you been working here?
I’ve been working at Gymbox for nearly 2 years now. Alongside being the Rhythm Master Trainer, I’m a professional dancer, choreographer and creative director. I specialise in a type of street dance called Shway Style and am one of very few that are qualified to teach this art-form worldwide.
For the past 5 years, I’ve been building a Shway dance community and travelling to teach classes all over London. It was great timing when the creative team at Gymbox approached me to make Shway their new creative class. After delivering a successful Shway demo, I heard about an opening for the role as Master Trainer. I didn’t know what the job entailed at the time, but I was asked to go in for an interview and was lucky enough to be offered the job!
When did you start dancing and at what point did you decide to turn it into a career?
I come from a very musical family and was exposed to different types of music growing up. Dance was always a part of my home life and at age 3, I started ballet classes. I became more and more obsessed with it throughout school as I got the opportunity to perform at shows.
There was never a definitive moment that made me want to turn dance into a career because it always felt so natural, and the hard work and discipline made me love it even more. It will always be a huge part of my life!
You’re also a photographer and film director. What is it like juggling your work for Gymbox with these other creative pursuits, and would you say your skills in these different roles complement each other?
As a freelancer, it can be difficult to find a healthy balance between all my work as I never know when a big job opportunity will show up and require all my focus! However, I am extremely lucky that all the work I do is based around my skills and interests and complements each other.
I’ve met some amazing people through Gymbox that I now work with outside of the gym, and there are people that I have worked with in the industry that now teach regularly at Gymbox because of me. It’s important to me to make great connections with people wherever I go. You never know who you are speaking to and Gymbox has really shown me that.
Out of the classes you teach at Gymbox, which is your favourite and why?
I have to say Shway of course! It has been an incredible experience and opportunity to bring my Shway students into Gymbox to create and direct the promo video and photo shoots, and for it to be launched as a new Gymbox creative class. It received an incredible response and has built a strong following of members that still follow my Shway work outside of Gymbox.
How did you find lockdown and what did you do with your time? We know some people felt creatively inspired while they were forced indoors, but not everyone felt that way!
I’m one of those annoying people that really enjoyed lockdown, haha! Of course, at first it was scary and everything still feels very uncertain, but as a freelancer I am usually under constant pressure to create, to network and to find work. Lockdown gave me the time and mental space I didn’t realise I needed. I enjoyed the lack of pressure and was able to create some of my best work during lockdown, whilst redefining who I am and how I want to plan for my future.
What is your favourite thing about being a dancer?
Dance liberates me and keeps me disciplined. It offers an unlimited way to express myself. I can channel all of my emotions through dance while using it to make powerful connections with other people through performing and teaching. Dance is for everyone, whether you’re a pro or not!
What is your favourite thing about working at Gymbox?
The most rewarding thing has been meeting so many amazing people through teaching. I didn’t realise how much of an impact we, as instructors, make on members' lives! I’ve had so many members tell me that my classes have helped them out of depression, improved their confidence and reconnected them to their bodies after having children. Gymbox looks great and has such a fun vibe, but it goes much deeper than that.
What classes are you currently teaching at Gymbox and where?
I’m currently teaching Callback at Farringdon and Shway at Old Street. Hopefully, when things begin to return to normal, I’ll be teaching more.
There are also some fun creative classes in the works for next year which I’m creating, so plenty of good times coming in 2021!