A Tough Balance: Lifelong Dancer Shayne Staley Found a Second Love in Fitness

As a young girl in Texas, Shayne Staley knew what she wanted to be when she grew up: a professional dancer. Staley danced through high school and earned her BFA in dance performance at Southern Methodist University. After moving to New York to pursue her dream, she stumbled into personal training and quickly discovered a newfound passion in fitness. Now, Staley has more than half a dozen certifications and teaches boxing, spin, dance, and yoga classes, in addition to individual training. While she still enjoys choreography and dance performance, Staley will be opening up her own fitness business this year called Fit for a Reason.

You have seven certifications that are all pretty different from each other. Is it uncommon for a personal trainer to be certified in so many brands of fitness?

Yeah, I think it’s pretty unique. Learning to teach yoga takes so much time and commitment that it’s hard to do other stuff. But I don’t just come as a yoga instructor or a boot camp instructor. If you’re feeling bad one day, okay let’s switch and do a different workout instead. Dance, too, when you throw that in there. Not a lot of people can teach dance. And cycling. And boxing.

What led you to pursue so many certifications?

One of my dance teachers introduced me to yoga and I fell in love with it. Even before I started personal training, I thought “Why don’t I teach this?” Once I started personal training, it was motivation to expand my fitness career. But I will say, everything I teach I enjoy doing myself. I’d have a hard time teaching something I don’t love. So, yeah I think it just kind of snowballed. One thing led to the next. And then, I got into my late 20’s and everyone around me was getting pregnant, so I was like “Okay I’ll get pre and post natal certified.”

Pre and Post Natal, what’s that like?

I’ve been doing that a lot. It’s really cool because I mainly do one on one with that and just to go through that journey with them. It’s like I’m still a part of the family or friends with most of them, which is crazy.

In addition to training seven days a week, you’re still chasing your dream of professional dance performance. What is the best part about doing that in New York City?

Being so close to the superstars in dance, the cream of the crop is here. When you go to class, it allows you to gauge where you’re at and it’s also a good way to stay motivated because everyone here is pushing. There’s still that energy to get better. I love that.

What’s the hardest part?

There’s the challenge of staying relevant. This is where people come to dance. Shipments of newbies keep coming in. But when you watch an 18-year-old dance next to a 35-year-old, the maturity of an older dance is so much juicier than the fantastic approach of a younger dancer. That’s always interesting when you go to an audition and there’s thirty 19-year-olds and you’re like “Okay, I still got it.”


Photo by Shane Regier

Did your family play a role in your decision to pursue a career in dance?

My family was a big influence on me. My mom is a dreamer. My dad is realistic, but he’s also pusher for me to follow my passion. And my brother is super artistic and creative so I always feel his encouragement.

What was your childhood like?

We were very active. When we went on vacation somewhere, it would be to hike and bike, or swim. My parents would enter my older brother and me in runs and races when we were little. I was always in dance. I started with ballet, played volleyball for two years and then discovered modern dance, which I fell in love with.

What do you remember about your move from Dallas to New York City after college?

A friend of a friend of a friend had an apartment in Inwood, up on 200th street. So I talked to him on the phone, never met him or anything, and said “Okay I’m coming!” Then I just kind of figured it out. Started auditioning, waitressed for three years.

When did you switch to fitness?

So after three years, I was feeling super unfulfilled. I had a friend who worked at the gym who told me to come interview. So I went over, interviewed and got the job as a personal trainer. I thought it would be a transition job, like maybe I’ll try this for a little bit, see how it goes. And it’s been…oh my god 13 years?

What has kept you in it so long?

I feel very fulfilled. This is a very rewarding job. It’s different every day. It works with my schedule in case I want to take a class or audition somewhere. Also it keeps me fit, so for dance, it does complement that very well.

What are some of the challenges?

It’s a job you can’t half ass. I can’t show up half asleep and teach a spin class. And then to add my dance on top of that, I have to balance. The more I teach, still having energy for myself can be tough sometimes.

Tell me about Fit for a Reason.

It’s basically this idea that everyone has a reason to get fit, it’s why you show up at the gym. So it’s a personal fitness experience that we want to give people. It will offer personal training, but also yoga, boxing, boot camp and really just a wide variety of options that you pull from. We can do private or small groups, indoor or outdoor training. It’s about people getting healthy and making good decisions, figuring out what motivates them so they stick with it.

Who is we?

Right now it’s me and my boyfriend, he’s a personal trainer too.

Are you able to combine your dancing background with your personal training?

With my classes, I thread a little bit of dance into them. Like my spin class, it’s all choreographed to the music. And then my total body class, you know, I can’t do bicep curls offbeat.

About author

Zac Howard
Zac Howard 5 posts

Zac Howard is a FSU alum and NYU grad student. He loves classic lit, the Miami Dolphins, and Kristen Stewart. For more of his writing, visit his website https://zachowardblog.wordpress.com

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