Michelle Hong is a global coach and choreographer who has the mission to make figure skating accessible to all ages and ethnicities. In addition, she has created the first-ever online platform for figure skating content dedicated to empowering all generations of athletes.
Do you have any ideas on how to make the industry better?
I think the biggest thing about my business I want to talk about is my inclusiveness, since figure skating is very elite and very exclusive. Many people have felt that they can’t be part of this sport. I utilize social media to be able to show another side of skating.
I want to bring the art and the education of skating to the forefront of mainstream media. I think that’s something that has been lacking for all the years that skating has ever existed. People know skating because of the Olympics, and that’s how people view the sport. It’s this beautiful sought out sport where people are doing amazing things and it just seems so difficult to even relate to.
It’s something that seems like a dream because people don’t even know the steps to get there. I’ve created easy to follow guides on how to start skating, how to get a coach, how to get involved with competitions, from everything regarding the boots, the blades to how to do spin.
For me, it’s important to make sure that everybody has an ability to learn how to skate and beyond that people who have never thought about it before are enjoying my videos. A handful of viral videos even reached 8 million views on TikTok.
Well let’s just start by a little about you, so if you want to dive in and tell me how this all started, you can go back to your childhood if you would like.
My videos and my virtual live classes have been helping people around the world. In fact, it has impacted places where you see an ice rink doesn’t even exist, including India, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Africa. There’s so many people that reach out to me and I feel honored to have that ability to connect because of the internet.
One of the most powerful aspects about my business is that I’m doing something that never had nobody has ever done before. I remember people reached out to me from Mexico from Indonesia. And I was like, wow, that’s crazy. I know people in Indonesia and I never knew that that would be interested in something in something like this.
Also, with my Cambodian American background, I was so fortunate enough to meet the Cambodian national skating team, which I never knew existed. One of the coaches who taught there before reached out to me to do a virtual zoom meet and greet. It was interesting because I was like anticipating like them to be very knowledgeable about skating and understanding of the ins and outs of the sport.
However, they were so new to it. To add to the pain, the capital of Cambodia, once had an ice rink, but I think it melted two years ago because they didn’t have sufficient financial resources to support the equipment.
There was water dripping down from the bottom of it because they didn’t have the right support system in terms of how to build an ice rink. There’s so many different components of it.
One thing that’s really interesting is that I am working with poly glide ice, which is a synthetic ice company. And I’m always trying to find ways to make skating accessible.
I’ve partnered with them this year and I was able to skate in my house. I was able to skate in my kitchen, while the pandemic was happening and rinks were closed. And then I was also able to award one of them to my followers.
How do you typically work with your clients in person?
In person, I have an Academy called the Beyond Skating Academy with my co-coach. We’ve developed a whole entire program where our skaters get a skate two hours a day in the morning, and we have our own session and it consists of edge work in the morning. After this, we go straight into techniques.
We also incorporate challenge and we have this fun environment. Our academy is focused on three key values: passion, work ethic, and grit.
I want to create a figure skater. I want to give the tools to an athlete to make them feel confident, both on and off the ice. I want them to take the lessons that they learn on the ice all the way throughout their whole entire lifetime, so that they can become successful in school. They can become successful in whatever career path they want to go to.
Do you have any short or long-term goals that you currently are working on?
Right now, I think my short term goal is to launch Coach Michelle Academy recordings. I am in the fifth week right now of the Coach Michelle Academy live courses. I love my students so much and yesterday we had a gratitude day and everybody shared how thankful they were to be part of this community. They never had this type of support system going to the rink.
My long-term goal is I want to create more figure skating resources and I want it to be in conjunction with my videos as well. I also want to be able to develop tools and innovative ways for skating to be reaching and appealing to the main-stream audience.
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