Speech by Shalini Bhalla – Creative Director and Founder of Just Jhoom! at the 3rd Birthday Celebrations.
“For Beccy and me Just Jhoom! is like our baby.
If someone were to say that they didn’t like it, it would be like saying our baby was ugly! And so that’s why we are happy that you are here – because you like Just Jhoom! – and so it’s like saying our baby is beautiful. But not only that. Many of you have been instrumental in nurturing Just Jhoom! – watching it grow, helping it to grow.
I can’t believe that this baby is now 3. And just like any parent will know, bringing up a baby has it’s up and downs, stresses and challenges.
But also just like any parent would say – I wouldn’t change a thing! Despite all the blood, sweat and tears – and there has been loads, if I could go back 3 years, I would still embark on this crazy, challenging – but hugely rewarding and fulfilling journey.
I won’t take you back the last 3 years – because so much has happened and we could be here a while! But allow me to do a quick recap on the last 12 months. It’s been full on!
Exactly one year ago today (May 25 2012) , it was a baking hot day, you wouldn’t believe it would you! But I remember it clearly because many of us were on Guildford High Street performing the first ever Just Jhoom! Flashmob. Then that evening we were in Basingstoke at Nathalie’s fabulous Just Jhoom! event which raised a substantial amount of money for Cancer Research UK and MIND as part of the Jhooming Jogle. Next morning I was on a train to Newcastle to join Emma and Jayne in the first ever Jhoomathon for Breakthrough Breast Cancer – a charity relationship that has grown and that you will hear more about later. And so our second year had come to an end, and the third, even more exciting year had begun.
In June we took our training course for the first time to Wales and then later that month we were featured on ITV’s Daybreak with Denise Van Outen. Our feet had not even touched the ground when in July we were featured on Sunday Brunch with presenters Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer
Also in that month our Just Jhoom! Dance Group did a spectacular performance as part of the Olympic Torch Relay at Stoke Park.
In August we piloted our Bhangra Jhoom! andf Forever Jhoom! workshops with our accredited instructors. This was an important development for Just Jhoom! as it meant that instructors could now offer an even more challenging workout for their classes, but also with Forever Jhoom! we were able to target an older demographic in care homes and day centres.
In September, the Just Jhoom! Dance Group were invited to perform in Turkey with the BBC presenter DJ Ritu. Needless to say I quickly became a key member of the Dance Group – so that I could go on this amazing trip. We finished the month with a trip to Birmingham to provide demos at the Leisure Industry Week as part of the REPS Convention.
October was all about The Think Pink campaign organised by Debenhams. This campaign supports three charities – Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Breast Cancer Campaign and Pink Ribbon Foundation and to start Beccy and I ran 3 Just Jhoom! Masterclasses with staff from Debenhams HQ and one day later the Dance Group performed all afternoon at the Oxford Street flagship store. During the rest of the month we had instructors conduct Just Jhoom! sessions at Debenhams stores in Southampton, Inverness, Ilford, Harrow and Hounslow Manchester, Milton Keynes, Wales, Guildford and Torquay. Our Suffolk Instructor (Hayley Crawford) ran a Think Pink Just Jhoom! class and in Northumberland our Instructors (Jayne Nixon and Emma Leigh) dedicated a weeks takings from Just Jhoom! classes to Breast Cancer charities. Also in October Nathalie, Beccy and I headed to Fitness Fiesta – our first masterclasses there – and subsequently our instructors are presenting at many of their events.
In November we had our first training session with the group DC Leisure – and since then we piloted classes in 5 of their venues with the view to train further instructors across the group later this year. We have also been fortunate to attend all their Regional Meetings and Jhoom! with some of the best Fitness Managers in the country. We are excited about our ongoing relationship with DC Leisure. Also this month the Dance Group once again performed with DJ Ritu at the British Library in front of 1000 people!
In December we took a well earned break! But also, during this time, we were planning for even more exciting events in the New Year.
January 2013. New Year and a new important addition to our team. Neena Vivash joined us as The Managing Director for Just Jhoom! Whereas I am Just Jhoom’s Mum – Mama Jhoom some Instructors call me – Neena is definitely the headmistress! She keeps us all in line. She doesn’t allow me to spend money. And she keeps my feet firmly on the ground. But more than that, Neena has brought a renewed sense of purpose to Just Jhoom! She understands that we want to make a difference, that we want to leave a legacy – and we don’t just want to be a fad. Neena understands that yes, we need to make money as a business, but we also have a social responsibility to the wider community – and she brings these 2 aspects together very naturally. She has already made some tough business decisions – one that I have shied away from – but she has done this always with Just Jhoom!’s best interests at heart. I couldn’t have asked for more. Later Neena will tell you a bit more about our future plans.
In February I went up to Newcastle to support Jayne and Emma who are now fully fledged become Just Jhoom! Trainers – the first 2 instructors to train to become so. This is an important step for us as a business as it means that we can now grow faster with team members who understand and value Just Jhoom! as much as Beccy and I do. Whilst we were working hard in Newcastle, Beccy was attending Nat’s Jhoomathon in Basingstoke. What was really great about this event was the support that all the instructors showed each other by attending and presenting at this event. For me, this is a fundamental aspect of Just Jhoom! We are truly a family – or as one of our instructors Jasmin calls us – the Jhoomily!
In March we were at Move It Dance show with EMDP. EMDP – the Exercise Movement Dance Partnership are an important delivery partner. With them we have created the world’s first Level 2 National Bollywood dance-fitness qualification. This Just Jhoom! qualification will be piloted in August. So if you know anyone who wants to be a Just Jhoom! Instructor – but isn’t a dance or fitness professional please do ask them to get in touch. In this month we launched our first Just Jhoom! Bollywood Bhangra Double Album with our music partners Pure Energy. We did this at the International Fitness Showcase where four of us presented to a group of 100 Fitness Instructors. I couldn’t have asked for a better team in Heidi, Lindsay and Nirzari.
April was a busy month travelling to places like Rotherham, Kidderminster, Wellingborough and Chippenham to launch new classes and run Masterclasses with DC Leisure. We also brought on board Nathalie as our Instructor Support person. This is a key part of our ethos at Just Jhoom! We value our instructors and want them to feel part of our team – and so a dedicated person to whom they can turn to and ask for support was a key part of our strategy.
In May the Just Jhoom! Dancers Group performed at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards as well as the Mind, Body, Spirit Festival in London. I’d like to also mention all the media coverage we have had this year. From Daybreak to Sunday Brunch, Fitness TV – on which we are featured regularly, magazines like Top Sante and Zest, radio stations like BBC Newcastle and BBC Surrey – to local newspapers like the Surrey Advertiser – the media have really taken to Just Jhoom! and we look forward to this continuing in the future. Thank you to Wigwam for all their efforts in securing us such fabulous opportunities. Quick mention must go to Instructors Amy and Anne who also managed to get themselves on the Channel 4 programme The Hotel – and Just Jhoom! was definitely the most positive thing about that programme.
This year we also joined hands with Colette from The Dancers Shop and we have increased our merchandise range – much of which is available to buy today. Neena is working hard to increase this range and offer even more over this coming year. Thank you to Jules from Snazzy Media who works hard on making sure the online shop is up-to-date. As part of our Birthday celebrations last year we also launched a healthy eating cookbook by Cheeku Bhasin and this has proved to be a huge hit.
Our team is growing. We have appointed a new bookkeeper – Hieu – the first man in our office team! And Beccy will now take on the role of scheduling training – but she continues to be my partner in crime – and to her I want to say a big, special Thank you.
Throughout the years, there has been one person who has stood by me through all the ups and downs. He really is my rock. Thank you Jeremy.
And so to today. I have met so many wonderful people because of Just Jhoom!
Jhoomers in my classes, Jhoomers in other instructors classes, partnerships that we have built on through the business – and of course the fantastic, dedicated Just Jhoom! Instructors who make Just Jhoom! the vibrant, energetic organisation that it is. You truly are my Just Jhoom! family – and to you I want to say a big Jhooming Thank you.
I am going to hand you over to Neena who will tell you a little about all the exciting things in store for Just Jhoom! as we embark on our 4th year.