SHiNING Star: Minako Tsukamoto
Location: Tokyo, Japan
SHiNE Certification Date: April 2020
Teaches: 3-4 classes/week
Favorite SHiNE routine: Masterpiece by Jessie J
Favorite food: Sushi and pasta
Kids: 2 daughters, 21 & 19
Hobbies: Cooking and hiking in nature
Our amazing Minako was recognized as a SHiNING Star in our Instructorhood in May 2022 for her determination and tenacity to build find her own SHiNE tribe! Minako found SHiNE Dance Fitness while living in New York in 2015 and loved attending live classes until she moved back to Japan in 2019. Because there were no live classes offered in her area, Minako became an avid SHiNE Online member so she could continue to get her dance fitness fix.
While on-demand fitness classes have many benefits, we at SHiNE Dance Fitness believe that nothing can quite compare to a LIVE class experience – and Minako agrees! She wanted to dance live and bring it to her community so that she could share her joy and passion with others.
“I am still surprised at myself for becoming an Instructor,” says Minako. “I was always dancing at the back of the room in New York!”
Minako stepped outside of her comfort zone, completed SHiNE instructor training online, and started hunting for the perfect location to teach her classes. Though she was bubbling with excitement to teach, Minako says she struggled at the start to find her people – the ones who would embrace this new format in her region and dance alongside a new instructor as she developed her own confidence.
She started in a dance studio and flyered the studio walls, local restaurants and any empty windows in town she could find to build buzz around her new classes. She created social media accounts to promote herself and never stopped looking for opportunities to teach.
“I was sure people needed SHiNE like me,” she says. “If people didn’t come to my studio, I thought – I’ll go to the place where the people are.”
Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic created some major barriers, ultimately keeping Minako from being able to gather and teach a live class. She practiced teaching SHiNE with friends and family, and when restrictions on group gatherings eased up she decided to try starting a class again, this time, with some help.
Minako reached out to Mutsumi, a fellow SHiNE Instructor from another part of the country, about getting started. “Social media makes the world small,” says Minako. By connecting on social media, she was able to lean on Mutsumi as a mentor. Matsumi was even able to connect Minako with interested students who were looking for SHiNE in the Tokyo area. Minako strongly encourages any new Instructor to use their network to reach out for help (and so do we)! As we often say at SHiNE, we are STRONGER TOGETHER.
Even though it didn’t come naturally at first, Minako’s grit, perseverance and flexibility ultimately brought her just what she desired – a space to enjoy movement and music with others. Minako now teaches at four different locations, each lending itself to a different class experience. She goes above and beyond as an Instructor to meet the differing needs of her students, including two classes geared toward seniors.
Next time you’re in Tokyo, swing by for a class to see just how magical it is to SHiNE with Minako!