It’s no longer a man’s world anymore. Those days are long gone, as over these past years women are putting their foot down and are tired of being second. Discover your power, your say, and your self-worth with health and wellness coach, Jackie Dragone. Jackie is the founder and CEO of Jackie Dragone LLC and RhythmLab where she coaches women into getting in shape both physically and mentally. Join Susanne Puerschel as she sits down with Jackie to talk about her love for dance and why she stopped and what she’s doing now with her training programs to help women find their self-worth.
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Finding Your Self-Worth As A Woman With Jackie Dragone
Our special guest is Jackie Dragone. Jackie is a Health and Wellness Professional coaching women into their strongest shape both mentally and physically. She is the Founder and CEO of Jackie Dragone, LLC and thrives on helping women get out of their way and step into their full potential. Jackie also has a background in dance. I cannot wait to share with you all of her stories. Without further ado, here is Jackie.
Jackie, thank you so much for being here. I am thrilled to have this conversation with you. I can’t wait for what we’re going to dig out of meeting here for the first time and recording our conversation. We have discovered that we have a network that we’re both tapping into. We both know Lori and Chris Harder. We both know, Jillian, and this is how we got connected. I would love it if you could take us back to your younger self. What’s your story? What’s your journey? Why did you dance? Where did that all come from? I’m so intrigued.A lot of people can't find courage because they don't believe in their own power. Click To Tweet
I was always an active little girl. I always wanted to be moving, playing a sport, and loved music. My older cousin joined a dance class. She was two years older than me. Anything that she did, I was like, “I have to do it.” I am the oldest sibling, so I was always looking up at her. I was like, “She’s doing it, I have to do it, Mom. Let me go do it.” I went to class and I fell in love with it. I was good at it that I didn’t even know. I have rhythm. I can keep the beat. This is great. This was me at five years old. It started with, “You get into it, have to take tap, and ballet 30 minutes each.” You get older, you build on it, you’re doing jazz, you’re going three nights a week, you’re doing a competition, and then you’re into it. You’re into that high and thrill of being on stage, feeling the energy of the audience, the lights, and the whole thing. I loved it. It became a part of the core of who I was moving with the music as a form of self-expression.
How long did you dance?
I started at five. I went to college to dance. I went to DeSales University in Pennsylvania close to the Pocono but not that far off. I went to college for four years and then I moved to New York City right after. I went through the whole audition circuit. I had some success but never went fully pro. I stopped going to class when I was in my late 20s or 30. I was discouraged from auditioning, honestly. That scene was so hard. It wasn’t me. I was not cutthroat. I was welcoming, warm, and wanted everyone to get along. It was so harsh and I didn’t expect that. I was defeated by it.
I remember being in a Pilates class one day and a story of Queens at a place called the yoga room. I had this lightbulb moment where I was like, “I can teach Pilates, no big deal. I could teach it. I know I could. I could make a career out of fitness.” I knew it at that moment, so I went and I signed up. The first thing I did in fitness was Pilates. To answer that question in a long way, I danced for over twenty years and then I transitioned into fitness.
Can we go back to your years in New York? You said it was cutthroat if you are not a fit for that. That’s a little deeper into when we’re saying cutthroat, what does that mean? Many people are not a fit for that. We are all not a fit for that. Why is it like that? Why have we created it? Because if we’re all not a fit for it and I truly believe that it doesn’t have to be then why are we still putting up with it? If you could go a little bit deeper what cutthroat meant for you and why it was against who you are?
It felt like you had to flaunt yourself and go above and beyond to be seen, which ties into what we’re talking about and why we don’t put ourselves first very often. It was a lot of schmoozing and who you know, and getting into this class and that class and I was never the schmoozer. I was never the person that was like, “Look at me.” Even though I enjoyed being on stage, it was very much collective energy. It wasn’t about me.
In that environment, I didn’t feel like I thrived in because I didn’t want to put myself out the extra step when it felt forced or fake. I wanted to be there, show my talent, and have it seen for what it was instead of thinking a lot of the dancing in New York was based upon relationships built, which good thing or bad thing. Some of the relationships built were inauthentic and because you knew that person could get you from point A to point B, instead of because you genuinely cared about that person.
Not authentically showing up as a human being was not something that was encouraged. I don’t think it’s still encouraged in any kind of dance or seeing in the industry. We’re always putting on that, “Look at me, I’m much better than this person.” That doesn’t create the loving energy that we need in this world, quite honestly. Thank you for sharing that with us. Your transition into fitness and having that epiphany is such a beautiful gift. How is it different?
It’s interesting because there could be a lot of parallels in the fitness industry. It’s different because instead of being on stage, you’re with people that want your help and guidance. You can offer them your expertise and help with guidance for them to get the transformation that they’re seeking. You can do it authentically as yourself. That’s what draws people to you, there are so many fitness instructors, but you’re drawn to somebody because of their personality, something about them resonates with you. There’s an actual human connection versus again, you’re lifting the veil of it all.
If you do it right, you’re lifting the veil of it all. You get to make these deep core connections where you can help guide someone. I would never take credit for somebody that I work with journey, it’s all them, but you can truly mentor them, guide them, and lead them into what it is that they want. That takes away the curtain. It becomes authentic and real. You’re still moving and connecting. It’s just in a different way.
It’s not about you. It’s about helping others. Lifting the veil, having the courage to show up as who we are is, I believe, something that the arts, dance, and whatever industry that is incorporated in the arts is struggling with because it is not about helping somebody. It’s not about guiding people to be better. It’s about fitting people into a box and you have to be exactly this way. If you’re not, I am going to make you. If you’re still not, I’m going to throw you out and replace you.
That slight little pivot is important. It trickles down in many aspects of everything that we’re doing that would change it. Good for you for having the courage to step out of it and say, “This is no longer serving me. I can’t try to make myself fit in here. Even though it hurts, I can no longer go on.” That takes a lot of courage and not many people can find that courage because they don’t believe in their power. Talk to us about what you’re doing now and what you’re pulling yourself.
Thank you and before I do, I want to jump back in and say that the whole fitting into a box thing is exactly it. I agree with you 100% spot on. It’s this way or no. Anyone that’s reading that is a dancer or a young dancer, the pressure is hard, and don’t beat yourself down. It’s important for other people to hear that. Thank you for articulating that so well. What I’m doing now, I have been working in the fitness industry since 2009 at this point. It’s crazy.
I stayed in New York City for quite a while. I helped build a company that exists only in Long Island after COVID-19 but it was called FLEX. They had a Pilates program, a bar program, and TRX. When I was fortunate enough to come in at the very beginning and help them structure the classes, hire the team, train the instructors, do instructor development, and coach the coaches. It was great and fun. I did that for years. Again, I was like, “I’ve outgrown this. It’s time for me to grow into something else.”
I pivoted completely and I audition to teach cycling, which was wild. Living in New York City, I made a connection, I went, and I auditioned for Flywheel, which was a major company, again post COVID-19 no longer exists, unfortunately. I made it through the audition. I started teaching in New York. I decided to move to Philadelphia. Moving to Philadelphia within six months of working for them, I was overseeing the entire team for Philadelphia and Washington, DC doing something very similar. Hiring the coaches and coaching the coaches on how to show up. I belonged in this world because it is moving to the beat of the music. I feel like I’m back in that magic of dance but in a way where I can also help people and it’s not about me. It was a magical time. I loved the job but we all lost the job on March 18, 2020. It was over.
They closed down without even thinking they can digitally or doing anything?
That company was, unfortunately, going through some other legal stuff that they couldn’t fully do transition online. It was a bit complicated, so that was it. They had to close their doors permanently. It was okay because while I was teaching at Flywheel, I had developed a method called RhythmLab, which is a total body strength workout that’s all set to the beat of the music. Here we go again. I was teaching that in person as my side gig in my side business. I was like, “This is a nudge from the universe. It’s time.” I brought it online. I started to build and build a business. I built off of that ever since and here we are.
Look at you, so powerful. You don’t stop growing and you’re not afraid of saying, “I have come to the point where this relationship is no longer serving who I want to become.” Doing that without any kind of blame, judgment, ill feelings, or words takes much awareness and self-love too. Before we hopped on here, I said that I wanted to talk about the topic and you have been working with many women. Why we, as women, love to put ourselves second? It doesn’t matter if you’re a dancer, mother, or CEO. Why is it that we default back to it’s not even serving others by not taking care of ourselves? Why are we thinking of ourselves little?Be authentic. You don't need to impress anyone by being fake. Click To Tweet
I coach a lot of women with their habits and their mindset outside of fitness. It’s fear of asserting ourselves because we’ll lose what we’ve gained. It comes back to fear. I’m speaking very much in career right now. Women that have a hard time setting boundaries with their job or it doesn’t even occur to them to say, “This is too much work for me and I’m overwhelmed.” It goes back to a fear of what the other people will think, them being pushed back, or their worthiness being taken away because they’re saying that they can’t handle it.
There is an underlying sense of women right now in this country finding their worth. Owning that for the first time or realizing that I’m not paying attention to what I need. It goes deep and it’s society. How many years ago was it when we couldn’t even vote. If there is an underlying feeling that it’s like, “Second and then women.” That is starting to flip but we’re catching up to it. I even can see it in my parent’s generation and my generation the difference. Even the way that we interact in our relationships, the difference in how I will assert myself and not all times will like my parents or my aunts. It’s different. I do think it’s changing but maybe my generation is one of the first to start to or the one just above me to start to say and realize, “We do have power. We do have a say. We do belong and we’re certainly not second, so what is my worth?”
Isn’t that what we’re all somewhere and somewhat struggling with? It’s understanding that society has taught us we’re here to bear children, to take care of them, and everything else is left to the male. It’s still going back to that. I hear it over and over again, even the mindset is, “I have to go to school as a woman first before I can do this. Money isn’t for me, I don’t know anything about investing.” I’m like, “There’s Google and you can go.” It’s that invisible wall that women are trying to get through understanding that everything is for us. We’re not second class. We’re not more stupid. We’re capable of everything. As a mother of three, I can say that it was hard for me to learn that if I don’t take care of myself. I am not going to show up as the mother that I want it to be. It was hard to break through that urge of putting myself last.
I respect that so much. That’s amazing.
Every day, it’s a new discovery. What else do I need? If I’m not showing up here 100%, then what are they going to think of me? What if I didn’t show up at all? There are many layers to it. I see that. That’s a woman in the art. In dance and ballet in my niche, they get paid less than the male version of that same job. Where are we? It is 2021 and nobody is saying anything. I don’t understand.
I agree with you.
It starts with finding yourself worth and understanding that you are the most important thing to yourself. It is your responsibility to see you, hear you, and love you first before anybody else will do the same thing. When you coach these women and work with them, you said you do mindset work and habits. You’re realigning the habits. Let’s go there. Let’s see what kind of habits are the most common that should be re–adjusted?
It’s completely in line with what we’re talking about. It’s almost like putting off their self-care. Be it the way that they’re eating and I do not mean diet, by any means. I mean forgetting or doing all the work before they stopped to have lunch or waking up and diving into the work before having a glass of water and breakfast. Putting aside their own basic needs for the work or the task at hand. That happens all the time and then they feel tired, overwhelmed, have a headache, or no energy. I’m like, “Let’s go back to taking care of you at a very base level because you can’t just take care of your job 24/7.” Especially in the climate that we’re in where everyone is working from home.
Companies have decided that we can be available from 6:00 AM until 9:00 PM. I’m seeing this with many women. There’s no boundary. Naturally, that’s the second thing. What boundaries do you want to lay down? Also, speak up and have that conversation with the people that you work with and say your needs because you weren’t in the office from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM before. Where are you going to block your calendar for you?
Amen to that. Self-care is such a big topic. Everybody talks about it. What’s in your container of self-care? I’m curious.
Self-care for me is movement. Going outside and feeling the fresh air. Nourishing my body well without guilt, shame, or overly restricting but knowing what nourishing for me is and how it makes me feel when I certain things with its anxiety, stress, fulfilled, or happy, whatever it is. Self-care for me also is not necessarily a bubble bath but maybe it is, but taking time to sit quietly alone. Self-care 100%. I love to go on walks that goes hand–in–hand with getting outside. I’m not saying they have to work for anyone else, but at least for me, I do every single day without question. They are a part of my self-care routine. They fulfill me, keep me going, make me feel grounded, and I can show up the version of myself that I want to be.
What I’m hearing you say is that these are also non–negotiables for you.
It’s 100% non-negotiable for me.
For me, in my spare container, there are also the people that I let in my life meaning which energy I allow into my world. I found that when I was still active, there was much toxic energy around me that you are the five people that you’re surrounding yourself with. I’ve gone through several sheddings of people I let on my island. That is definitely in my self-care container and setting boundaries is also in my self-care container.
I can have all the building myself up through all of these things, but if I don’t have clear boundaries, I’m going to diminish what I build up quickly. It’s hard. Wouldn’t you agree? I find setting boundaries super hard particularly as a woman in the arts or as a coach even, as a new business owner because you don’t want to disappoint the other side. If you don’t know who you are or what you’re standing for, then setting those boundaries is super hard. Have you had any experience with your clients that have struggled with that?
In the beginning, I’m proud of them because they always end up working towards it. I don’t want to say 100% figuring it out. The hardest one that I see them with is work–related. It’s the boundary of where they begin and where work stops. That’s the one that we’re constantly working on. They’re able to implement exercise and eating easier because there’s no one to disappoint on the other side. Exactly to your point, it’s always when there’s somebody else involved that they feel is going to judge them, has the power to diminish them, or to take something away that they feel is a basic need like having a job. That’s where it gets tricky for them, even in a relationship with a husband, friend, or neighbor. That’s where it gets tricky. It’s always the worry and the fear of disappointing somebody.
We’re only disappointing ourselves and that presents more fear.
Totally and I always tell them, “It is not your job to decide how somebody is going to react to something that you want. It’s not your job to control the reaction. It’s your job to do what you need to do for yourself.”
You, as a coach, I’m assuming you are surrounded by coaches. What kind of a difference would it have made for you in your life when you were still active as a performer and as a dancer to have that consistent coaching by your side? Have you ever thought about that what your life could have looked like?
It is going back to worthiness and finding that inner power. The younger version of me, even though I was able to make decisions and steer the bus in different directions, I didn’t always feel super confident in it. I might have stayed in something longer if I had somebody on my side saying. “Your action is a mindset block.” If you approach it from this angle, realize your worth in this way, or look into yourself for what is unique in you instead of everybody else going out for the same part or the same role as you. If I had somebody in my corner like putting that in my ear, I probably would have shown up in a more powerful way instead of showing up as I thought I was supposed to.
Showing up as me versus as I thought I was supposed to. Isn’t that the truth? That hits hard. In full transparency, I never in my active years even thought about who was I and who do I want to be because I was so fixated on who I was supposed to be, who I needed to be, and show up. We don’t understand even in these Performing Arts Industries. That is exactly the reason why some are stuck because we’re not giving them the freedom to be who they are supposed to be. Looking back at what you know, and I usually ask this question later, but what would you tell your sixteen-year-old self right now? What would you give her as a nugget to say, “Consider this and this will make the path that you’re about to embrace so much easier?”
I would say keep your focus and put your blinders on because all of the distraction and self-comparison is going to weigh on you, especially as a young person. I can remember comparing myself to others constantly as a younger version of myself. It’s like all I did, it beats you down, it steals your, joy and it dims your light. I would say, “Find your strengths. What are you good at? What were you meant to do?” It’s like, “Here we are and later in life looking for our purpose.” Do we know our purpose and we just figured it out?
What is your purpose as a sixteen-year-old? It can change as you’re young and you’re still developing, but focus on where your heart is taking you and put your blinders on from comparing it to anyone else’s journey or what they’re offering because yours is unique. That’s what I wish somebody was telling me or I had the power at that time to tell myself. We don’t have these conversations as kids. This isn’t what we’re taught. It would be beautiful if we were.
Even as young adults or have somebody by our side or a place to go where these conversations are possible, open, or welcome. I discovered that I have a hard time asking questions and asking for help. “Where’s this coming from? Why am I reluctant to reach out?” What came up for me was that I was never encouraged to ask questions. When I was asking questions, it was like, “Why don’t you know? Did you find out yourself?” It was that silo mentality that was always ingrained.Women do have power. Women do have a say. Women do belong. Most importantly, women are certainly not second. Click To Tweet
Figure it out yourself, stand on your own two legs, and you can’t ask anybody for help because if you’re asking for help, you’re saying that you’re weak and that’s a common function. You can’t be weak if you want to be successful. I’m just rediscovering that. Everything that I learned around that is untrue. First of all, have you had any experience with your clients that have the same kind of mindset and discoveries around how important it is to collaborate and ask questions? How do you help them through it? That is such a big topic and it’s completely discouraged to ask questions. Help me re–fix that.
I have many clients that go through this. The first step is having a conversation about it, which is why I love working in a container of women that can say, “I’m going through this too.” Many of us are going through this. The second thing is, the thing that you’re afraid to ask help for is why. Is there any truth to if you ask for help, it diminishes you? There’s not, maybe we were told that and we build it up in our head, but it doesn’t take your power away. It gives you more time on the back end to be more powerful. Easier said than done, but can we start small? Can we start there? Can we start with one small thing a day and start to delegate a task to somebody else?
A lot of the women I work with are high–achieving like bosses. They have teams under them. They still don’t want to ask their team to do things because, in their mind, “I have to show up this way so that they do too.” I’m like, “Yes but no. You have this team, delegate it.” They start doing it and they’re like, “Oh.” When you delegate, don’t fill that space with something else other than something for you. You gave yourself some time so that you’re not working from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Go for a walk. Block your calendar. Fulfill yourself. You can come back and be more productive at your job in this time.
Isn’t it that we are taking what has been given to us as the bee for what we’re doing, meaning that without questioning it, it will never change? Without having the courage to look at it from a different angle and say, “Is there a different way?” If you are working with these powerful women having teams under them, and they’re still struggling to ask the team to do, help, and be vulnerable. We need to start doing that because otherwise, we are going to be in this perpetual motion of taking our power away.
I agree with you and I do think there’s something super powerful about a person that says, “I want you to do A, B, and C. Thank you so much.” We see delegating or asking for help is a bad thing but it comes across as super powerful and confident. We just have to reframe the way that we’re looking at it.
Everything is re–frameable. Nothing fell on its own. It’s on us and how we want to see it and how it serves best on where we want to go like this back niche. It is the way it is and it has to be this way all the time. Otherwise, it doesn’t work. Success has to be hard. You have to work your booty off to be successful. You do but you don’t have to kill yourself over it. You don’t have to put it as your end–all–be–all and be in it. Be passionate about it. Ask questions. Collaborate with people, be consistent, and have joy because if it is not bringing you the joy you’re going to burn out and you will not survive.
You won’t want to do it.
I am fulfilled. My cup is full. Thank you so much. You are to the point and good in giving. I’m calling it the German way. I’m German. I can say that. All of you 81 million people living in Germany, forgive me but that’s what we do. We are very black and white to the point. Thank you so much for being here. Where can we find you? You have programs and fitness online studio. What else is there? What’s coming down the line?
First of all, thank you so much for having me. This was great. It was nice to sit down and speak with another dance professional because we don’t get to have those conversations on the other side. I haven’t heard one. What you’re doing is super unique and I love it. Second, you can find me on Instagram. It is the easiest place. It’s just my name @JackieDragone. My website is at JackieDragone.com either of those two places you can find me. Virtual studio, you can work with me as a fitness coach habits and mindset.
I’m considering having this fire in me to help new female entrepreneurs build their businesses and get started. I do have this fire and I came to terms with it because after over a decade in the industry. What I’m seeing is many coaching programs are one–size–fits–all. I’m noticing that doesn’t always work for me. I want to grab and have somebody new, excited, has a brilliant idea, sit down, and lead them into the way that it can work for them. When it comes to business, there’s more than one way. We need to empower new female entrepreneurs to see the way that is best for them. That is in my heart right now. I want to lead the way for them.
I love that. We need to talk more. Thank you for embracing that and they are more and more rising. They gave all of us, if you were open for it, the permission to step into our power. Everything that we knew disappeared within a day. Follow her, tap into her energy, and we’re sending you guys so much love. Share your biggest takeaway on your Instagram Story and we can’t wait to hear from you. Thank you very much.
- Jackie Dragone, LLC
- Lori Harder
- Chris Harder – Past episode
- Jillian Murphy – Previous Episode
- DeSales University
- RhythmLab – Instagram
About Jackie Dragone
Jackie Dragone is a health and wellness professional coaching women into their strongest shape both mentally and physically! She is the founder and CEO of Jackie Dragone LLC and thrives on helping women get out of their own way and step into thier full potential!
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