Fierce Females in Taipei: Meet Kathleen of KATIE MOVES TAIPEI
We are so excited to introduce all of you to yet another fabulously Fierce Female in Taipei! We met the lovely (and spunky!) Kathleen Batchelor last year, and we loved her energy and hearing all about her journey from starting off as an English teacher in Taiwan, to now owning her own business as a dance fitness instructor in Taipei. Kathleen has been a certified Zumba instructor since 2013, and she teaches a bunch of different classes like Zumba Fitness, Fit & Flaunt Burlesque Fitness and Family Moves with Katie.
Her fun and popular classes can be attended by anyone (all ages and abilities are welcome!), and she has a bunch of devoted clients (including celebrities) whom keeps coming back for more. Kathleen highlights the fact that ANYONE can join a class, and that it's a fun and accessible way to exercise. Let's jump into it, and learn more about this mover and shaker, whom funnily enough, wanted to become a nun when she was little...
Watch Kathleen in action!
What are your qualifications?
After I earned my license to teach Zumba, I went on to get licensed to teach Zumba Kids, Aqua Zumba, Strong by Zumba, and I also became an AFAA certified group exercise instructor in 2017.
How long have you been teaching dance classes in Taipei?
I began to teach a few friends in 2013 right after being licensed. After receiving my APRC, I started to teach a few classes for fitness chains in Taipei. In the past 3 years or so, I transitioned to teaching dance classes full time, and last year registered my classes under my own freelance company. I now teach a combination of private and public, one on one, small and large group classes all over Taipei.
Why did you want to be a dance instructor?
I became a dance fitness instructor due to a mix of my passion for dance, a drive to work really hard, and also as the result of great opportunities. I grew up taking dance classes as a child and teenager, and absolutely loved it as my hobby and tool for self-expression. I was rather shy as a child, so it was one of the few means I had to step out of my shell. Years later, I went to my first year of university in New York City (before transferring to university in Montreal), where the majority of my peers were performing arts or dance majors.
Being surrounded by people whom were preparing to become professional dancers and performers, I was rather embarrassed by having dance as just a hobby. I was fairly certain I had left my dancing days behind me as I focused on my studies in International Development. Beyond a few dance workout tapes I had, and nights out dancing with friends at clubs, dance was not a major part of my life.
Then, during my first few years in Taiwan, myself and a group of friends started our own burlesque troupe. This helped bring dance and performing back into my life. In our group, because of my background in dance, I was able to help with choreography for our performance routines. Around this time, I also joined a friend in taking a Zumba class at a gym. The teacher was incredible and I started to look forward to that one hour every week more than anything else! (That first instructor became a mentor and my eventual partner as we even did our own Zumba tour around Taiwan to various cities.)
I initially decided to get licensed to teach Zumba so that I could simply dance on my own, or maybe just lead a small group of my friends when another Zumba teacher was leaving Taiwan. Hard work and opportunity came into play, because after acquiring my APRC there seemed to be a real demand for more dance fitness instructors at fitness centers in Taipei, and I squeezed in teaching classes at any free moment I could. I started getting more offers for classes than I could keep up with while holding my full time English teaching job. I started to make a slow and calculated transition from English teaching to full time dance fitness instructor.
Another interesting event during that time was that one of my celebrity dance clients (and mother to some of my former English students) started to post video clips from our classes on her social media. This resulted in a huge influx of interest in dance fitness, Zumba, and my classes. It led to opportunities to present at international dance fitness events, and be featured in magazines, TV shows, and online segments.
Do clients just have fun, or is it a workout?
Each client has their own goals. For the majority of my clients, what brings them back is the fun. Over time, the changes they see in their body (if they are pushing themselves and breaking a sweat) becomes motivation for healthier lifestyles.
What is the demographic of your clientele?
My dance fitness clientele varies a great deal. I teach small children as young as 4, along with their parents, in my Family Moves with Katie class. My Fit + Flaunt Burlesque Fitness class is a soft, strong and sexy burlesque inspired class, and the majority of the clients so far seem to be women anywhere from their twenties all the way to their seventies (anyone looking for a chance to sweat, feel graceful and express themselves!). Zumba classes vary the most; I have parents who occasionally bring their young children, all the way to students in their eighties. I have a number of private high profile clients and students, moms, professors, doctors and everyone in between. The beauty of dance fitness is that it is inclusive and easy for the average person to pick up after a few classes.
What are some of your biggest professional achievements?
I just celebrated the one-year anniversary of my brand, Katie Moves Taipei. For the past year I wrote weekly newsletters as a way to connect more with my students, and uploaded new videos on my YouTube channel. It was a real achievement to see this passion project through for the whole year! To celebrate, I launched my new website katiemovestaipei.com Other big achievements include being able to be a guest on Taiwanese talk shows, and speak in Chinese on TV (even if it wasn’t that great!).
What hurdles did you have to overcome, as a foreign woman, to start your own business in Taiwan?
There were many unknowns for me starting my own business as a dance fitness instructor, because I could not look to any other foreign woman who had followed a similar path in Taipei. I realized that I had to carve out my own way if I wanted to be able to build the life I want for myself in Taiwan. While that might seem daunting, it also gave me a lot of freedom to build something that felt authentic to myself. Also, although there were many unknowns, I was fortunate to have had years of wonderful relationships and connections with former English students, parents, bosses, coworkers, and friends. They provided an endless supply of knowledge, support and experience. I also found that while I would often be given advice about what I should do next from people with big opinions, I had to listen to my own instincts and do what felt right for me. I started to build a team of people who assist me in roles such as an assistant, manager, translator, designer, videographer and mentor. These are the people who share my values and my vision and who I can turn to for advice.
Give us more details on your classes. Where/how do we sign up? And what are our options?
Classes run 50 minutes to an hour and are held at various locations throughout Taipei. Public group classes are open to anyone, but registration is required online in advance to ensure your spot. There is minimal talking in the classes, as we follow the beat of the music, so English and Chinese speakers (or just about anyone) can join the classes! For information on signing up for classes check out my website or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Where are you from originally, and how long have you been in Taiwan?
I’m originally from outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the US. I have been in Taiwan since 2006.
Tell us about your family.
I am the middle daughter out of three girls. My immediate family is all based on the east coast of the US. I’m lucky enough to have my parents come visit me almost once a year in Taiwan or somewhere in Asia. I try to go back to the US about once a year to see family as well. In Taipei, I have a fantastic family of friends. I definitely crave comfort and the concept of “home” just as much as I crave excitement and adventure. I love hosting holiday gatherings for my friends, and carrying on my own traditions even in Taiwan.
What languages do you speak?
I speak English and Chinese.
Where did you go to university/college and what did you study?
I graduated from McGill University in Montreal, Canada and studied International Development with a minor in World Religions.
What are your hobbies outside of dancing?
I love to cook, and especially bake, whenever I have the time. I also do private Chinese lessons with a teacher twice a week.
What is your favorite thing about living in Taipei?
It’s so hard to narrow it down! I would say the opportunities Taiwan has given me. It has allowed me to come out of my shell, meet amazing people, and achieve things I never knew possible. Also, safety! Food! Warmth of the people! Convenience!
Apart from dancing, what else do you like to do to stay fit?
What are your three favorite restaurants in Taipei?
Where do you like to purchase your workout/dance gear in Taiwan?
I often get a lot of my fitness clothing from the Zumba company, and those export stores (by Daan and Renai roads), where they have western sizes, and a hit or miss collection of inexpensive leggings.
What’s your favorite genre of music for dancing?
Right now, I’m pretty into using Moombahton (a mix of Reggaeton and House music ) for my Zumba classes, and funk or retro music for my Fit + Flaunt Burlesque Fitness class.
What does a typical weekend in Taipei look like for you?
I generally work a ton during the weekend, as it’s the free time for all of my clients whom hold weekday nine-to-five type jobs. Many weekends there are also Zumba fitness parties with visiting instructors. If I have my Saturday night and Sunday free, I try to see friends, cook to relax, or even go out dancing (as if I haven’t done it enough all week long!).
Favorite countries you’ve been to, and why.
I loved visiting Bali for its natural beauty and the sense of spirituality around every corner. Thailand… people, beaches and food! Goa, India was also one of my favorite locations! I try to connect with Zumba instructors every time I travel, and the class I attended and taught in Goa was amazing! The warmth and energy of the people there (as well as from the place) was really memorable.
Places you still want to visit.
This summer I’ll be taking my first trip to Europe. I’m planning on Berlin for a friend’s wedding, and we’ll see where else makes the list!
GET IN TOUCH WITH KATHLEEN
Facebook: Katie Dance Fitness Instructor
YouTube: Katie Moves Taipei
We'd like to thank Kathleen for the interview, and for being such an inspirational Fierce Female in Taipei!
We wish her all the best with her business and highly recommend you to join one of her classes!
If you'd like to nominate a Fierce Female in Taipei, please contact us at email@example.com