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Monday, May 25, 2020

Activities & Organizations

Bauer student balances Bollywood dance studio with business classes


Vismita Varghese (left) teaches yoga at her family-run studio Bollycurves in Missouri City. | Courtesy of Vismita Varghese

Vismita Varghese (left) teaches yoga at her family-run studio Bollycurves in Missouri City. | Courtesy of Vismita Varghese

From going to class to teaching them, Vismita “Mimi” Varghese can juggle being both a student and running a family-owned dance studio.

The management information systems sophomore said her dancing career started when she was 3 years old.

Varghese’s brother was a dancer and she wanted to perform with him, but at the time was too small.

But when the judges allowed her to perform anyway, her love of dancing was cemented. 

She went on to dance for 15 years after that performance and recently opened her own studio in December.

Varghese’s dance background includes classical dancing, ballet, hip-hop and jazz. Both Varghese and her brother share a dancing background with their mother as well.

Now, the Varghese family has turned their dancing passion into a business by hosting dance and fitness classes in a Bollywood-inspired studio called Bollycurves in Missouri City.

Business and Family

Varghese said her classes at C. T. Bauer College of Business have helped her learn to manage time and how to better run the studio, even though being a college student and business owner can be a lot.  

“Once you’re passionate, there’s never really an excuse,” Varghese said about balancing the business and her classes.

Varghese along with brother, Visak Varghese, and mother, Shiela Varghese, co-own the studio. Visak Varghese is a UH alumnus as well and devotes time to the studio.

Part of her reasoning behind opening the studio was the health Varghese’s parents. Her mom and dad had health problems and struggled to find a place that accommodated to that as well as their age, Varghese said.

Varghese told the Houston Chronicle about her parents’ health injuries, describing her mother’s shoulder injury and father’s heart attack. None of the gyms the Varghese family found were able to personalize a workout to fit these conditions.

Personalization and Culture

“At the studio, we really focus on personalization,” Varghese said. “To me, I believe every individual is really different and they need the personalization.”

Part of the personalization that Bollycurves offers is adjusting to people’s needs. They have had guests in their 80s and others who have recovered from back surgery. 

The studio has three different classes: yoga, kids classes and Bollywood cardio, which Varghese describes as “Indian Zumba.”

Classes usually have ten or fewer people, but there are one-on-one private sessions, which Varghese said are popular.

Vismita working on cardio at the studio

Vismita Varghese working on cardio at her studio is both a passion of hers and a chance to work out. | Courtesy of Vismita Varghese

One of Varghese’s favorite parts of running the business is teaching the kids classes. She said these classes are a way to help children bridge the gap between Indian culture and American culture.

“I’m Indian, and Houston is a diverse hub,” Varghese said. “Growing up here, it is really hard to accept your culture, so each class is kept small so we can personalize to their ability.”

With personalization, Varghese said she feels that everyone should be accepted into her culture when they go to class.

This culture is a large part of Bollycurves, Varghese said, as yoga originated in India and the whole idea around Bollywood involves Indian culture, music, movies and costumes. 

The start of it all

Before the business was up and running, the Varghese family held pop-up classes in churches and other community centers to gauge the demand for the classes. 

They finally decided to open Bollycurves amidst Varghese’s freshman year while she was juggling two mini session courses, but despite the struggles they faced, “everything just fell into place,” Varghese said. 

About 20 people showed up on the first day of Bollycurves, Varghese said, and it made the studio feel like a welcoming environment back on Dec. 9. Many have learned about the studio through word of mouth and have kept a continual flow of clients coming through the doors.

“After every workout class I see how proud my clients are and it makes me really happy, because I feel like we really bring ourselves down sometimes,” Varghese said. “Even if it’s just ten jumping jacks, (the clients) feel really proud of themselves and I feel happiness.”

Her time running Bollycurves has changed the way that Varghese views other people. She said they value comfort at the studio and want each client to feel welcomed and accepted not only within Bollycurves but also in her family’s culture.

“I realized that we tear ourselves down as women,” Varghese said. “We need to bring each other up as a society because we are all so beautiful on the inside and the outside, so I feel like it has taught me to bring other women up and realize how powerful we are.”

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