Why She’s Top 40: Inspired by a desire to spend time with her baby, she created a postpartum Latin dance class that blossomed into a successful Edmonton studio.
What Do You Like Most About Edmonton?: “Mill Creek Ravine. I love watching the joy of discovery through my kids’ eyes. They like going to the creek and finding frogs or seeing the leaves change.”
After the birth of her eldest daughter, Jessica Baudin-Griffin struggled with the idea of putting her daughter in child care. As an elementary school teacher, she had studied early childhood development and understood the importance of the early years. “The idea of sending Bria to be in someone else’s care all day, while I taught, didn’t sit well with me,” she says. On top of that, Baudin-Griffin doubted whether she belonged in the classroom or if she could juggle her former 60-hour work week with parenting.
But she wondered what else she could do. Entrepreneurship wasn’t on her radar until her husband suggested she find a career path that involved two of her passions, babies and dancing (she had danced since childhood and had taught dance during her university years). Knowing that postpartum exercise classes were in short supply in Edmonton, Baudin-Griffin realized there was a niche in the market that she could fill.
To test the waters, she rented studio space and held a Latin dance class for moms and babies.It was a challenging, but low-impact, dance form that would help women get back into shape safely, while wearing their babies in carriers. Snuggled against their moms, most babies fell asleep. “That rhythmic nature of the movement and being close to mom is very reminiscent of being in the womb,” says Baudin-Griffin.
Women loved her first class and she began teaching more and more at studios around the city. Soon, the moms in her classes were asking if they could be trained to teach, too. In 2009, three years after beginning her mom-and-baby dance classes, she opened up a bricks-and-mortar location for J’Adore Dance in Lendrum. About 1,200 people come through the doors of the south side studio each week to take a wide range of fitness classes for moms and little ones, as well as an educational program she designed for children – from newborns to five years old – called Intellidance. Now licensed to 18 instructors in a five Canadian cities and one dance teacher in South Korea, Intellidance uses movement and music to support neurological and emotional development.
After seven years in business, Baudin-Griffin has grown J’Adore Dance into a thriving enterprise – but she’s still driven by the relationships with her students. “If a baby spits up in the middle of class, there’s usually the instructor or another mom to clean it up and we say, ‘It’s just floor polish,'” she says. “The programs have always been as much about creating community and support as they are about fitness, dance and exercise.”