This month I’m introducing you to my friend Leslie Paster Fhima, who has a diverse background, and currently teaches about 20 fitness classes each week, plus private clients. She’s also a mom to Zack (26), Chloe (21), and Eli (19).
I met Leslie more than a year ago, when I happened to take her Zumba class one evening. I fell in love with her from the moment she started moving to the music, and I’ve been obsessed with her and her class ever since. She’s my four-times-a-week therapy session, thanks to her getting my heart rate up while my mind goes to its happy place. Leslie says she hates talking about herself, but my Zumba friends and I are always bugging her for more info because she’s a fascinating person who has lived an incredible life. And there’s even more to come! Read on about this gem of a woman.
Hey Leslie! Tell us about you.
I grew up in St. Louis Park, and graduated from St. Louis Park high school in 1977. I skated every day starting at age 8, and I also loved to dance. My dream was to be a professional figure skater.
How did you end up where you are today?
I auditioned for the Ice Follies while still in high school, and got hired. I left home a week after graduation for my new career. I skated professionally for three years, and made lasting friendships. I also gained life experiences and lessons you can only get while being out in the world. While in the Ice Follies, I took up running, which kept me healthy and in good shape. The show hired me to work people out before nightly performances. I even got to work with Peggy Fleming.
After I got out of the show, I decided to open up an “aerobics studio,” as it was called back then. I opened Leslie’s Shape Shop in the early ’80s and went on to win an aerobic competition, which led to to many things, including exercise videos and commercials. My studio was very successful and, of course, an amazing experience.
During this time, I was also starting to run marathons, and went on to complete 10, including the Boston and New York City Marathons.
Of what are you most proud, career-wise?
Winning the National Aerobics Competition and making the videos were highlights of my career.
What keeps you motivated?
The people I teach every day. I work with everyone from pre-school kids to adults, and I can truly say I love my job. I am rewarded each day by the people I teach. It makes me so happy to know I make a difference in their lives, no matter how small.
I think hard work and perseverance has really helped me in my career. I’m not lazy, and I love to work out, so it’s a good combination. Being with my children is also one of my favorite things. I took up snowboarding 14 years ago so I could spend more time with my then 13-year-old son.
As if you weren’t busy enough teaching 20-some classes each week, what else have you been working on?
Besides teaching Zumba, spinning, Pilates, and Barre classes, I’ve also been building my new business. I’ve invented a product called PowerBark. My dog Sadie was my inspiration. I take her with me everywhere I go, so sometimes she misses her meals when she’s with me. Five years ago, I was eating my protein bar and I thought, “Why isn’t there something like this for dogs?” Fast forward to today and, voilá! PowerBark is launching next month!
What words of wisdom can you leave us with?
I never lie about my age. I’m 54 and I think I’m a good role model for women my age. Exercise is the key to life. I can attest to that.
I’m starting a new feature on redshoes news 2.6, called In My Shoes. As a rabid shoe collector, I’ve racked up quite a collection (as anyone who has seen the inside of my closet or has helped me move can attest). Lots of times, my shoes have a “story,” whether it’s where I got them, or a place I wore them, or the history I’ve had with them. Sometimes I just love the way they look and want to talk about them! Yep.
I thought it might be fun to not only show off my shoe collection, but in doing so, let you get to know a little bit more about me as well. In the past, I’ve talked in this blog about redshoes26 design, art, being an entrepreneur, and what shows I’ve got scheduled. But I am my business, so I want you to get to know me a little more, too. So along with the familiar content, I’m adding a bit more. I hope you like the inside peek.
So. My first In My Shoes entry revolves around these snappy leopard-print flats I got while in Austin, Texas, for the Renegade Craft Fair in late November. I went on the trip with my friend Larissa Loden, and we spent a couple extra days in Austin, exploring the city and the food and anything else we could squeeze in.
One day whilst shopping at the most wicked outlet mall I’ve ever been to–on Black Friday, no less (this wasn’t planned, it just happened that way…and it was an incredible, happy accident)–I suggested to Larissa that we go into a shoe store that looked from the outside to be one of those “comfy shoe stores” where typically the shoes may be comfy, but they suuuure aren’t pretty. She’d been looking for a new pair of leopard-print flats to replace some uncomf ones she had, and we’d struck out at a few cool shoe stores so far during the trip. So we thought, what the hell, we have nothing to lose. I spotted (pun intended) some right away, and they were perfect. If you’re anything like Larissa and me, you understand what I mean about the “perfect” leopard print. So much animal print stuff out there is hideous and tacky. I can’t even describe to you what I mean about the “perfect leopard print,” I just know it when I see it. And it’s rare.
Anyway, she tried the shoes on, and we noticed that they were on super sale, thanks to it being Black Friday, so I, being the reckless shoe lover that I am, tossed on a pair on as well. I’d recently been thinking of adding some animal print to my wardrobe because I’m a super solids-and-stripes girl. I have some polka-dots, and some crazy-ass patterned shirts/dresses mixed in, but no animals as of yet. I also don’t normally wear flats, since this girl loves her heels. But once those shoes were on my feet, I realized they were going to start my foray into the wild side (yep, I did it again). Plus, as anyone who’s gone shoe shopping with me knows, if I like a pair of shoes and I put my foot into one of them, they usually go home with me. I know this, so sometimes I just won’t even try a pair on, if I can’t afford them, or don’t “need” them, etc.
I did mention it is an addiction, right?
So, short story long, Larissa and I are shoe twinsies. We’ll have to check with each other whenever we go out to see if the other is going to wear her leopard flats. But it’s a small price to pay to have such a fun shoe in my collection.
They are also perfect for wearing to art shows because they’re flat, and they came from one of those “comfy shoe stores,” remember? So I guess the moral of this story is to never judge a shoe store by its, uh, comfy-shoe-store name, I guess. Because we hit the jackpot with these babies.
Thanks for reading! What’s your goofy addiction? What do you think of animal prints? Do you like my shoes (I won’t be offended if you don’t!)?
Happy anniversary to redshoes26 design! Today marks two years that I have been at this full-time. This past year, especially, was very incredible, business-wise, and I want you all to know how thankful I am of your support and generosity toward me, my business, and my brand.
Looking forward, I’m planning on making some changes to the business. To start, I’m phasing out my greeting card line, at least for now. As of today, all of my greeting cards will be 50% off on my redshoes26 design online shop and my Etsy shop. Watch for the prices to drop as the day goes by.
I’ll soon be selling my inventory of envelopes as well, so keep your eyes peeled for that announcement and for those listings to pop up on my online shops.
Thanks again for all of your encouragement and enthusiasm these past two years and beyond. I appreciate it more than you know.