By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew
Kristy McCarley is not one to question God, but she still finds it hard to believe that she – a woman with two engineering degrees and a limited choreography background – has produced two well-received exercise DVD’s.
Two years ago, McCarley, founder and CEO of Shazzy Fitness, decided to create a family-friendly exercise DVD’s for the masses. In August, she reaped the benefits of sacrifice and obedience when the Dove Foundation recognized Shazzy Fitness by giving it a seal of approval.
“I wanted the music to be fun and for people to get excited about fitness,” McCarley said. “Shazzy is good for people who want to do something good for their body and for their spirit.”
The Dove Foundation described Shazzy Fitness’ Christian hip-hop dance workout videos as a “wonderful workout that not only exercises the body but the mind and soul alike.”
Furthermore, in August, the workout DVD was the top seller in the fitness category for Shazzy’s distributor, Total Fitness DVD’s.
“The fact that an independent faith-based video is leading all other secular dance fitness video sales is just incredible and so very humbling,” said the creator of the fat-burning (cardio) and dance DVD.
The invigorating choreography from Apollo, Leslie, and Vera mixed with the sounds of award-winning Christian hip-hop offerings from Da’ T.R.U.T.H., Breezy Brown, E.Dot, and Jai have won over parents and exercise enthusiasts.
“One thing moms said is that they can do it (Shazzy Fitness) with their kids,” said McCarley, who is a wife and mother of two girls. She decided to create a Shazzy Fitness to bring family-friendly exercise DVD’s to the masses.
McCarley said Shazzy is short for Daniel’s Babylonian name, Belteshazzar (Daniel 1:7).
According to the company’s website, “The Hebrew prophet, Daniel, is a model of the power of faith. Despite dire circumstances, Daniel never let fear override his commitment to God. If Daniel were alive today, his hip-hop nickname just might be … ‘Shazzy.”
McCarley, a longtime professional in IT management, was laid off from her job in late 2011. Instead of finding a job that replicates her background, she opted to take a not-too-distant memory from 10 years ago and make it a reality.
“During a ‘spin’ class, a Kirk Franklin song was played. I had never heard that type of music in an exercise class,” McCarley said. “I just enjoyed how it made me feel not just during the class but after the class. It made my soul feel good. It made difference to me; it made a lasting impression. We need more of this.”
She wanted to do a live class in the Atlanta area, but she figured it would limit visibility. At the suggestion of others, she decided to produce a DVD.
McCarley pumped up her pursuit. She did her research, found a production company – ECG Productions – and choreographers to make inspiration a reality.
Diversity in the video is important to McCarley. The video’s participants vary in age and race.
“Christian hip-hop transcends race, gender, and age” she said. “Everybody can do this; it is not just for one group of people. Plus, good music is a universal language.”
McCarley said her organization is also aggressively seeking churches, schools, dance studios, non-profits and community organizations that are interested in becoming Shazzy Fitness ambassadors – meaning they are interested in partnering with them to bring their faith-based dance classes to their communities, events, and dance studios.
A question that consistently pops into the mind of the self-professed reluctant entrepreneur is, “Lord, what are we doing?”
“This is purely a walk of faith,” McCarley said. “I remember you can do all things through Christ. There are days when I ask myself, ‘How are we gonna make it?’ The only answer is Jesus.”