#GOODMEN: Dance, choreographer Louis Van Amstel
Dancer, choreographer, and creator, Louis Van Amstel is a star. Initially, on Dancing with the Stars, Van Amstel has branched into business as a co-creator of LA Blast. His motivation consists of following his gut and bettering other's lifestyle, both nutritionally and physically.
You’ve had a tremendous amount of success working on “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance”! You started dancing at the age of 10. Did you always know you wanted to pursue this as a career path?
No, I did not always see myself wanting to pursue dancing. The first two years I did it to please my grandparents and my mom who were both dancers. I did it for them, but then when I did the first competition, I liked how it felt. Growing up I dealt with bullying; I was a binge eater, an emotional eater-thank goodness for dance. It’s kept me from the chopping block of not just being overweight but fat.
People now don’t believe me, or they think “What? You were bullied for being fat?” Dance became therapeutic for me. So far, twenty-five years later, I have a mission with LA Blast. It’s not just about doing a workout. There is so much more depth to it. Most people that are bullied are emotional eaters. Most people that are obese or heavily overweight-there is a reason or a story behind that. Often, bullying and self-esteem issues as a kid are the culprit as to why later in life people will not go to the gym or a dance studio. I want to change that and I know it’s a significant and challenging mission, but if I don’t try, I will never know.
You have a dance fitness program called La Blast Fitness! Congratulations! Give us the deets.
I started LA Blast nine years ago with Lisa Rinna. It was after Season 2 of Dancing with the Stars when we went on tour. The pros go back every season, but the celebrities don’t. Lisa was so addicted, and she said, “Louis, you have to start a class.”
Well, nine years later it’s a worldwide brand. We have three formats: Fitness, Line Dancing, and Splash. Our newest venture is LA Blast Online, so we could reach people in rural areas, people that do not want to go to the gym either because they don’t like to workout or because they are too embarrassed to go out in public because of self-image issues. With our online program, we want to promote an exercise for people that generally would not go to the gym but still would love to learn how to dance. Of course, with Dancing with the Stars, which has been on the air for thirteen years (25 seasons) there are millions of people that would love to learn to dance, and that’s what LA Blast is all about, all the dances we do have been on Dancing with the Stars.
Congratulations! That’s so exciting. So anyone can sign up?!
Anybody can sign up. It is mainly for people that think they can’t dance, people that believe they are uncoordinated. I wanted to create it in a very logical way. We keep it very simple so that anyone can feel successful. I have yet to find someone who says “I’m bored.” People become better at it and more involved. We have two sides to our online program: Silk Side and Shape Side. It’s really for everyone, even professional dancers who are retired and are in their fifties or sixties that would love to dance but will never go to class with twenty-year-olds. This is for anyone who would like to learn to dance and use it as an exercise.
Can you share a few fitness tips with us to staying in shape no matter what time of year it is?
I have a lifestyle that allows for having fun with food and eating whatever I want. However, I am conscious of it. I believe in conscious eating-not in dieting. You can eat whatever you want, but you are accountable. When I go on a three-week spree between December 15th and January 8th, I will eat whatever. I already know, that in my mind, I am in the gym or LA Blast for that matter. I am creating tours where I do nationwide master classes because I know that I’m going to burn so many calories. This year what I did was I consciously planned between December 19th and 22nd, fifty master classes of an hour each. Each hour I probably burned nine hundred calories. I did that on purpose because I know when I go into the holidays I can eat whatever I want. I have it planned where there would be weeks you are going live a disciplined workout lifestyle. If you do that for six months, you are going to be so unhappy with yourself and then what happens is everything you’ve done in the past six months goes down the drain. If you say, “let’s do a few weeks here and then a few weeks there” where you are disciplined and you are making a plan. There is a beginning, middle, and an end. It’s similar to a project.
My advice is to stop dieting and start becoming aware of what you eat. Ask yourself, “are you eating for emotional reasons” or “are you eating it because you are craving it?” If you really want it, then eat it. It’s the difference between “am I eating my emotions away” or “do I emotionally crave chocolate?”
LA Blast Challenge:
We have a weight loss challenge for LA Blast. One lady who is obese lost thirty pounds. I’m telling her to “calm down” because it’s been less than two months. I’m happy for her, but I don’t want her to do it for the wrong reasons. It should be about a lifestyle change and do a little bit at a time.
When People Join...
It’s $9.99 a month, and they get new workouts every month. They get nutrition and health advice. There is recipes, no diet, and they are just healthier versions of what you would eat. We also have a Facebook form only for LA Blast online members. I’m personally on there every single week asking how things are going. People share things that are lovely to see, and it feels like we are building a community with our online presence.
If you could have cocktails with anyone, who would it be? What would you drink? What would be your first topic of conversation?
I do like my Diet Coke (laughs), and then I would drink a lot of water. It would have to be with my husband. Lately, the topic has been adoption. We are going to adopt within the next two years.
What feels right as the creator is when you positively affect someone’s life. We do that now with our company. It has a very noble mission of helping others. Getting people certified is one of them. It's great when they can start teaching locally in their area, or they can even do it online. We want to take this a step further. There are so many children out there who have been born into this world who might be drug babies or alcohol babies or then there are couples who thought the child would help their relationship, but then these children became orphans. We would love to become parents to kids like that. I can’t wait and then twenty years later to see them thrive. I’m looking forward to that challenge-to become a grandparent and to say you know what “we left a good message behind and we did our part to make this a better world.”
Can you share a time in your career or life where you felt you had a hit “a bump in the road” or felt like giving up? How did you overcome this? What advice would you give to others based on your own experience?
I’ve had my share of burnouts. What I learned when I was a kid is that “movement when you dance” is not only about the physical body. It’s the physical, mental and emotional self. We had to develop the physical side, the athletic side, and then the mental side-understanding, gaining knowledge, cognitive behavior. Then it was about experiencing that-the emotional self, the spirit, and the soul. As a dancer, I was developing this. When I was about twenty years old, I started emotionally feeling, “I am not in control over my life anymore.” At the time, my partner and I were third in the world. We just had to wait one or two more years, and we would become world champions, but for some reason, I knew what I didn’t want that anymore. I took a leap of faith and followed my gut. I stopped, and the whole dance world was against me, my teacher was upset with me and so was my partner, but rightfully so because ballroom dancing is a partner dance form. I couldn’t do it anymore though because I was unhappy. This was when I realized with LA Blast in the last ten years that there are so many people who are in that place where they stay in something whether it’s a marriage or career. They are doing it but “aren’t in it” anymore. I felt blessed that at that moment I followed my gut because I went back six months later and I was a new person. When I made that decision to stop at the time people had told me, “your career is over.” In 1994, I was back with the same partner, and we became world champions in 1994, 1995, and 1996 back to back.
My message to the world is, follow your intuition-follow your gut. Your gut is always right. The gut feeling is a balance between the physical, mental and the emotional.
I decided in 1997 to move to the United States, and it came out of nowhere. Twenty years later, I look back, and I have made my best decisions in life intuitively.
What is a mantra/quote that you live by?
Stay in your lane. Don’t be affected by other people.
Fast forward one year from now: “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions (Albert Einstein).” What would you like to see manifest in your life a year from now?
Manifestation: My company is at a point where we can officially start the process of adopting children.
Complete this sentence: “Never have I ever…”