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Meet Tara LaValley of Body by Tara in Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tara LaValley.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born in Chicago and started dancing at the age of three in ballet, jazz and tap. I also started classical piano at that age as well. I actually have a first memory of being in the dance studio in a diaper, laying on the floor with my chin in my hands, admiring the older girls on pointe shoes wanting to be like them. My mom put me in every activity available: gymnastics, tennis, swimming, diving, golf, voice lessons, but dancing was always my favorite. I began performing professionally at the age of eight in ballets and continued to do the Nutcrackers all over Chicago every year, missing school for rehearsals and shows. In high school, I was a cheerleader, which I loved, and I continued to perform in professional Equity musical theatre around Chicago for years. I was accepted to Depaul University for piano performance, but I had already fallen in love with performing for work and decided to pursue my performance career in New York City.

In New York, I was lucky to be signed with multiple agents for acting, commercials, print modeling, fitness and with Bloc Agency for dance. It seemed I was being sent out on more modeling auditions than anything, sometimes three a day. Almost all of the highlights of my career came to me in NYC and I’m grateful to have been a dancer and actor in all of the shows which got me my SAG-AFTRA Union Card.

I was actually surprised I was getting booked so much for modeling, but because of my dance background, moving for the camera was second nature for me. My fitness career escalated when I competed in an NPC fitness competition for both Figure and Fitness divisions. I won my first show and moved to the National level to compete amongst the top competitors in the country. I placed Fourth at the National level and my “Lara Croft” choreographed routine placed 1st in my division, which made me the most proud, being my creation. This led to countless print ads, Muscle & Fitness magazine covers, photoshoots, Hosting for international fitness products, instructing on fitness DVDs, signed as a column writer for Muscle & Performance Magazine, and spokesmodeling athlete contracts for supplement companies, while still personal training and diet coaching clients. Fitness had become my main source of income and energy, allowing for little to no time to dance.

Then one day, I discovered pole dancing, combining strength, dance, gymnastics and choreography. To me, this was the ultimate combination of my passions. I was certified by X-Pole to be an instructor in 2012 and decided it was time to move to California, where I had always dreamed of ending up. My goal was to pursue my dance career again, including pole, burlesque and performance, while still teaching and training clients as my job. I was lucky to be able to take my knowledge of years in the fitness industry and work as one of the top tier trainers at Equinox while living in Hollywood with a rooftop pool to go home to every night. I was living the dream….all except for the performing I was craving.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
In 2011, right before I had planned on moving to LA, my father passed away suddenly. It was the single hardest day of my life. We were extremely close and the months following the funeral were even harder, staying in his house in Indiana alone while grieving until the estate was settled. When I finally got to LA, I discovered it was much harder to survive out here alone than anticipated, with just my kitty Sasha. I found myself having to work double jobs, promotional modeling, catering, brand ambassador gigs, Conventions, extra work on films, or anything I could do in between training clients to pay bills, which allowed no time for dancing, auditioning or finding out how to perform burlesque.

I would go out with friends to clubs and bars in LA every weekend and watch all the burlesque dancers perform. I would sit there watching and longing to just be able to do what they were doing for my job. I felt like I was on a gerbil wheel of working to pay bills, just to fall asleep and dream about performing and the life I knew I could have. I just didn’t know how to connect the dots to make it happen. It’s taken me eight years to finally be blessed with an opportunity to work at a Pole studio, doing what I love, teaching pole and getting to dance. I am still training clients, but I am also choreographing, teaching pole and burlesque at Cleo’s Rock N Pole studio, filming tutorials and now teaching classes and private sessions on zoom. I had a burlesque show performance lined up in April before everything was shut down, so I look forward to the day the world opens up again and I can bring that character and dream to life.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Body by Tara – what should we know?
My company, Body by Tara, is a complete wellness brand combining “Mind, Body and Fuel”. I specialize not only in personal training, diet coaching and supplement recommendations, but in customizing a program to fit your lifestyle that you will enjoy, including cheat meals! I am most known for “transformations”, helping people achieve their dream body goals by combining nutrition, training and the accountability needed to succeed. My goal is to help as many people live a healthier and happier lifestyle. I also believe in positive reinforcement when I am teaching/training and I try to help my clients see that anything is possible.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My mom has been my biggest cheerleader since the day I was born. From driving me all over Chicago for hours every week to be in classes, ballets, rehearsals and shows, to continuing to support my talent and dreams cross country, she has always believed and nurtured my talent, even when I have doubted myself, countless times of saving me, lifting me up and endless hours of pep talks. I am so grateful for all she has done for me to be alive.

My Dad was my protector, friend and my hero. I could always see how proud he was of me through his eyes when he smiled at me and would say, “how could anyone be mad at you, you’re like sunshine”. I know he is with me all the time and protecting me from heaven.

Cleo, for giving me the opportunity of my dreams to choreograph and teach at her amazing pole studio, Cleo’s Rock N Pole, that I have been waiting years to finally make a reality. Her positivity, ethics and drive as a businesswoman are beyond an inspiration. I am grateful to be able to learn from her, from how she runs multiple businesses, to incredible pole tricks I’ve dreamt of doing.

Miss Marquez, whom I’ve looked up to for years as an amazing performer every time I went out and saw burlesque in LA. She not only welcomed me into the Empowerment in Heels burlesque community but has been a mentor and role model to me in everything she does.

Brynn Route, who has been my teacher, friend and muse. Thank you for continually inspiring me with your movement, which has helped to motivate and dream even further past my goals.

My clients. Thank you ALL for trusting me with your bodies to coach you. It fills my heart with joy to see your progress and reach your goals, from the small victories to the big achievements. I’m proud of you all!

Pricing:

  • She offers personal training, pole, burlesque and dance lessons over zoom from $10 and up

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Don Q Photography, Cleos Rock N Pole, Muscle and fitness magazine, Steven goMillion

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