Melanie Levenberg received the canfitpro award for her work with her company PL3Y International.
Be positive. Be cheerful. Be yourself.
These are the three rules that Melanie Levenberg tries to instill in the children she works with through her company PL3Y International, which aims to build community, positive thinking and good health through physical literacy programs mostly based on dance.
“I aspire to [my students] to experience movement and have so much fun from it that they remember their true selves and feel what it’s like to be alive, present and being with other people,” said Levenberg, who was recently appointed canfitpro fitness trainer. Professional of the Year 2022.
“It’s really about using the movement as a source of helping people to connect with who they really are.”
In the nine years since Levenberg founded PL3Y, she has been able to share her programs with over 10,000 instructors in 13 countries, reaching over 3.5 million children.
But despite the huge success of her program, Levenberg didn’t always dream of traveling the world teaching dance programs in schools. In fact, it wasn’t even on the radar.
For most of her life, Levenberg considered herself an athlete, and her fitness was associated with playing several sports at a high level. But after a lacrosse skull fracture left her unable to play contact sports, Levenberg had to find a new way to stay active and get the same exercise she was used to as an athlete.
This led her to become a fitness instructor in addition to her career as an elementary school physical therapist. Ed is a teacher.
With teaching as her full-time job and fitness coaching as her “side job” on the weekends, it wasn’t until it was time to teach her students how to dance that Levenberg’s two passions clashed.
“[Teaching] the dance scared me,” she said. “I always liked to dance to the music, but the thought of going to a class where there is a choreographer and remembering the steps, and everyone goes left, goes right … as an athlete, I had my own art, but I did not think that I knew how to dance, and I didn’t feel comfortable in dance lessons.
“So I came up with a different way of learning to dance that makes it very easy. I looked at my teacher’s work and thought, “My job isn’t to make them remember the steps or perfect their technique.” They just have to love the movement. And so I think that using music and movement together is really powerful. So I just removed all the rules of the dance.”
Students no longer needed to memorize steps or choreography; they just needed to focus on the joy of moving to the music. And from this, according to Levenberg, the children became more curious and interested in movement and activity.
It was the same with Levenberg herself. She had so much fun teaching her students how to dance in her own way that she started sharing her program with other teachers. And soon her part-time job as a fitness instructor became her full-time job in the form of PL3Y International, resulting in Levenberg being named canfitpro’s 2022 Fitness Professional of the Year.
While there was a time in her life when Levenberg didn’t even consider teaching dance to children, now that she looks back, she can’t imagine her life taking a different path than the one she’s currently on.
“I think everything happens for a reason. And I don’t know if I’d ever have as much fun as I do now to be active as an adult,” she said. “I was so focused on being an athlete, but as you get older, there are fewer and fewer opportunities to work at the elite level, and I don’t know if I would find so much joy in an active life. Now that I’m into fitness, I’ve discovered so many different ways that I can move my body and get exercise, and I’m much more open to trying different things because I’ve been exposed to a whole different world than just light weight. athletics”.
For more information on PL3Y International’s youth and adult programs, please visit www.pl3yinc.com.