50 MIW honoree: Christina VanDam

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Christina VanDam. Courtesy 616 Media

Christina VanDam

Owner

Zeal Aerial Fitness

 

Christina VanDam is a fan of flexibility, both personally and professionally.

The owner of Zeal Aerial Fitness knows firsthand the difficulties of balancing work and life responsibilities.

“As a mom of two young kiddos, I realize how hard the life/work balance can be sometimes. Too often, I feel like women feel this responsibility to be everything to everyone and we sometimes forget to take care of ourselves,” she said. “I hope that my story of Zeal can help encourage others to take something that they love and turn it into a career. Life takes us on expected paths, and sometimes, all we can do is enjoy the ride.”

VanDam’s path started with teaching in the public schools, and she loved it. After eight years, however, she was let go.

“Zeal then began as an idea of a new career for me. However, it was a scary leap to make having only been back in Grand Rapids for a few months. So, I started to research, conduct customer surveys, take entrepreneurship classes, connect with mentors and listen to what others had done,” she said.

The studio opened three years later.

“My main mission of Zeal has been to make aerial fitness accessible to all people. Accessibility ranges from physical barriers to language barriers,” VanDam said. “Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services has provided interpreters for a test class. We have also started a partnership with the Hispanic Center of West Michigan and ACT. Zeal had been an idea for so long, and now it is a physical community where we have the amazing opportunity to welcome all.”

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