If you’ve ever taken an Aaptiv stretch, meditation, or yoga class with Aaptiv Trainer Nicole Sciacca, you know she’s all about maximizing potential and creating positive energy. But did you know that she actually started her fitness journey as a dancer? Keep reading as we talk to Nicole about all things dance and wellness.
Full name: Nicole Sciacca
Hometown: Birmingham, AL
Favorite snack: Roasted sweet potato, butternut squash, and roasted broccoli
Favorite hobby: Going to comedy shows and watching movies
Favorite movie: All About Eve
Favorite band: Led Zeppelin
Favorite thing to cook: Sole and roasted broccoli with her 6-year-old son
How did you get into fitness? Were you active as a kid, did you play sports?
I started dancing at the age of two, but I was also on swim teams and played tennis. I was really good at both of those sports, but I would trade all of that for dance every single time—all I cared about was dance training. I would dance five hours a day, and on the weekends as well. I did that my entire adolescence. At the age of 14 I came out to Los Angeles to start training for choreographers.
That was my very first trip to LA—I experienced what that world was like. I just knuckled down and would train incessantly until I could move out here and dance professionally. I gave up all other sports and activities at that point to focus on my dance career. I moved out to LA to dance professionally when I was 21.
Is that something that you still do?
It is! I have a dance agent, and I just did a Netflix show—I was on Fuller House last year. Remember when DJ and Steve have their first date and they were in the street, in their car? And they have that musical number? I was in that. I’m wearing a flannel shirt.
How does dancing connect with yoga and meditation, which you teach on the Aaptiv app?
Oh they connect really well. I injured my back when I was 25 while I was dancing. I ruptured L4, L5, and S1, and I was bedridden for a month with nerve damage down my right side. So I couldn’t walk for about a month. I would crawl to the kitchen and crawl to the bathroom because I was living by myself at that point. I had no help.
I was told by my physical therapist to start looking into yoga as a means for healing. When I started it, I hated everything about yoga. But I kept going back because I knew it was part of the healing process. Somewhere along the way, whether it was the actual practice of yoga or me seeing improvements or the actual mind-body benefits, it just changed everything about me. I just started diving into yoga to the point where I didn’t care so much about dancing. It was the first time in my entire life that something else had gathered my attention in that way.
Even after coming back from that dance injury, I could never really perform the same way. I never really trusted my body fully, and I felt kind of betrayed by the pain and the experience. Moving into a modality that was sweat-based, mindful, healing, and that felt good was new to me because I would move into pain every single day of my life as a dancer. That is part of dancing—you sacrifice your health for the craft. Yoga was completely different in that way, and I loved it.
A lot of your classes on Aaptiv have themes. How would you describe your teaching style?
I want to maximize human potential. I want people to feel completely optimized in their bodies. So, they’re not trying to jam their bodies into a yoga shape or forcing a stretch past their limits. Instead, they’re doing yoga and stretching in addition to what’s working. I like to think of this as a practice that starts to build on itself. You become a better version of yourself by showing up. I think that’s what happened for me. I kept showing up, things kept unfolding for me, and hurdles were mounted. It became self-healing.
What do you love about fitness?
It’s two-fold. Fitness allows me to feel alive and reminds me of who I am. It’s been a form of expression for me since I was a young girl. It was cathartic, a way of getting through life. I feel most myself when I’m in movement, when I’m feeling healthy and strong. But the two-fold aspect of this is, as a teacher, when I watch people transform—I have chills right now, it’s so cheesy to say this—but I have the best job in the world. I get to see people face demons and come out on the other side within an hour. It’s inspiring to me to see people transformed, enhanced, bettered by their physicality and their efforts.
How do you get through a bad day?
I’m pretty positive and highly energized 98% of the time. But, when I’m having a bad day, I will often just sit with it. I’ll call my mom, and she’ll help me, and then I’ll probably put on a podcast. But when I’m feeling bad, it’s often because something didn’t go my way or I’m having to deal with being a single mom, so it’s usually deeply personal stuff. When it’s bad, I try to sit with it, then move out of it and into gratitude. I try to see the bigger picture when possible.