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Dance Studio Owner Wants to Sell African Goods, Help Organize Ghana Tours

The 29-year-old opened Rhythms Within U Dance and Fitness Studio, 8530 S. Racine Ave., in February with the help of her mother, Sharron Hill.

The Merrionette Park resident's studio offers a variety of the usual classes such as belly dance, Zumba, total body boot camp and more. One example is Bokwa — a group exercise that has participants draw letters and numbers with their feet while doing cardio. There is even “Flirty Girl booty beat,” a cardio dance class that incorporates dance video moves.

But Hill-Botchwey said her studio is unique because she is inspired by different cultural dances. She is certified in seven different dance fitness routines.

Cheretta Hill-Botchwey is the owner of a new dance and fitness studio                                                                                in Auburn Gresham. Reprinted from DNAInfo/Andrea Watson

Her hot hula fitness class is inspired by dances of the Pacific Islands. There’s Masala Bhangra, a dance that is supposed to bring out a woman’s masculine side while adding “feminine grace” with Bollywood. Hill-Botchwey said that her favorite is the African dancing and drumming class.

She likes the variety of classes she can offer to people.

“We offer so many different things and you see some places that offer mainly just Zumba or mainly just Zumba and kickboxing or bootcamp,” she said.

Even though there are a few dance and fitness studios that offer the types of classes she does, she said there weren’t any in Auburn Gresham.

“One of the things that was a main decision maker in selecting this location was because of the neighborhood,”  Hill-Botchwey said.

“There’s not a lot when it comes to fitness and dance in this particular neighborhood.”

Owning a dance and fitness studio wasn’t a goal she set when she was younger. But then she had a health scare.

“Prior to 2008, I had ovarian cysts and I had a knee injury from playing soccer in high school," she said. "And so I became very unfit, not healthy, not active and it got to a point where I was like, ‘Uh oh, it’s time to do something about it.’’

She started taking Zumba, belly dancing and Pilates in 2009 after recovering from her knee surgery. She said an instructor told her that she was talented and learned fast.

“He said you pick up dance very easily so he was like, ‘Why don’t you go ahead and get licensed to teach Zumba?’ and I went with him and from there I started teaching Zumba of August of 2009,” said Hill-Botchwey, who began studying different types of cultural dances. She even went to Senegal to study for a couple of weeks.

Teaching dance fitness classes isn’t all that she wants to do. Incorporating an educational component is important to her as well. Right now the classes are only for adults and teenagers, but she would like to begin an afterschool program in the fall and eventually offer African language classes and dance history classes to the community.

Having been involved in the Chicago Children’s Choir for seven years, she had the opportunity to travel the world, visiting places like Ghana, where her husband is originally from, Germany, Austria, Japan, the Czech Republic and more.

Traveling so much inspired her to start another business. She has plans to work directly with vendors in Ghana to sell their products in her dance and fitness studio. Some of the items will include purses, clothes, beads and more. And she also wants to work with a local travel agency in Ghana to help organize small tours from Chicago to Africa.

 Cheretta Hill-Botchwey is the owner of a new dance and fitness studio in Auburn Gresham.                                                    Cheretta Hill-Botchwey is the owner of a new dance and                                                fitness studio in Auburn Gresham. (DNAInfo Photo)

“The ultimate goal and vision is to see a lot of people come in and out, having classes all day, where people have plenty of options to come in, but also just being a place where people can come from the community to learn and feel like they’re a part of it,” she said.

Keywords: Busisness, Healthy Lifestyle, NBDC

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