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.