Fusion of Movement offers more than dance and acting, martial arts, and fitness; it offers a community, a source of connection, and a place for the whole family to have fun while getting healthy
By Hilary Dartt
Years ago, when Sasha and Ben Naasz worked for a county health department in southern Arizona, their direct supervisor told them they were doing too much. He told them to hold back, to lay low.
It was during the weeks that followed—while they threw paper airplanes at each other over the walls of their cubicles—that they came up with a concept that would enable them to do things their way and to change lives by putting their passion for health and the arts into action.
That concept was born in March 2012 when they opened Fusion of Movement in Prescott Valley. Offering a variety of classes—dance, fitness, Kenpo karate, archery, and more—Fusion of Movement serves 350 members, and continues to grow at an explosive rate.
Now, according to Jamie Cyr, one of two people to take Sasha’s very first class on that March day, “It’s more than just a gym. It’s where people’s lives change, and it’s because of how Sasha does what she does. She truly cares. She works with her heart. It’s not a job to her, it’s just what she does.”
Sasha got what she calls a “late start” in dance—joining her high school dance team without any formal training. She had a knack for it, and in her sophomore year, her dance teacher asked her to assist. She found teaching “really fulfilling and fun,” but it wasn’t until that same teacher sat down next to her and asked what her plan was that she considered a future in dance.
She auditioned for the dance company at the local community college, and that teacher, too, saw Sasha’s potential. She encouraged Sasha to audition for the Miss Dance Arizona Pageant, and although that wasn’t Sasha’s favorite experience, it opened the doors for her first professional dance job in Reno, Nevada.
One of the singers at that job was going to audition for a job on a cruise ship, and she invited Sasha to come along.
“She typed up a fake resume, and we flew to Vegas to audition,” Sasha said. “We both got it.”
From there, the pieces of Sasha’s life fell into place: a friend she met on one of her cruise ship jobs invited her to come to Los Angeles to check out the dance scene. As many dancers do, she got a job at a restaurant—and met Ben, who worked there, too.
The two of them have worked together ever since, first at Flowing Wells High School in Tucson, and then at the county health department after their daughter, Lela, was born (she’s now 9, and their son Eldon is 4).
Meanwhile, they finished up their schooling at the University of Arizona, Sasha earning her health degree and Ben earning his masters in scene design (to complement his bachelors in musical theater).
When they felt like their enthusiasm for health and making a difference was stifled, they knew it was time to move on
Choosing a New Home and a New Adventure
Sasha’s parents live in Prescott, and the Naaszes knew they wanted to move here to start their new business and nurture their family.
“It’s either [start our own business], or work for the man, and be told to lay low,” Sasha said. “And that’s just not how we function.”
As they worked on their business plan, they sought advice from a local nonprofit, SCORE, which offers free business advice. Although they were looking for locations in Prescott, the SCORE advisor they worked with suggested Prescott Valley might be a more suitable choice.
“What you’re offering, Prescott Valley needs,” he told them.
After a bit of research, the Naaszes agreed. Since opening their doors, their studio space has expanded to 11,000 square feet, and they’re currently turning a storage room into another dance studio, thanks to increasing demand for classes.
Fusion of Movement’s success has exceeded Sasha and Ben’s expectations, Sasha said: “When we opened, we didn’t really expect it to be what it is today—not even close.”
The company’s success, Jamie said, is due to the results people like her experience. When a friend “dragged” her to that first class in 2012, she was “in a really bad place.” She and her husband had just moved to Prescott Valley with their daughter, who has special needs and had lots of appointments to attend.
Jamie said, “I was using food for emotional support, I was eating terrible, and I didn’t even care what I was eating. I was depressed. I’d never worked out a day in my life, ever.”
Today, seven years later, Jamie works out every day (alongside her husband). She eats healthy, and she feels connected to and supported by a loving community of people brought together by Fusion of Movement.
Sasha attributes the company’s success to the fact that, “Our business model is family.”
Parents can often work out at the same time as several of their children take their own classes (or they can sign their kids into the play zone for childcare). Plus, the Naaszes are always looking for something new to add; for example, this past New Year’s Eve, they hosted a Masquerade Ball/Murder Mystery party, and they’ve offered ballroom dance classes, paint parties, game nights, master classes, and more, as well.
As Fusion of Movement continues to grow, Sasha said, she and Ben will continue to add different ways to keep families active and healthy.
“I believe we’re meant to be here, and there are so many families and people who have come to us and said we’ve changed their lives. That’s worth more than any amount of money.”
Jamie echoes that sentiment: “This is an amazing place to be.”
For more information, visit Fusion Movement at 6401 E. 2nd Street in Prescott Valley, or online at www.fusionofmovement.com, or call 928.775.2520.