40 Under 40 The Class of 2017

Megan Holl Shaw

Owner and Instructor, MEGAdance; Age 32

Megan Shaw

Megan Shaw

Megan Shaw has been passionate about dance and fitness all her life, so, about eight years ago, she started teaching Zumba.

Noticing that her classes at the YMCA were always packed, she took a leap in 2012 and launched her own fitness business, MEGAdance — which she characterizes as a “high-energy dance party workout” — from a small church basement, starting with only eight students. But it grew quickly by word of mouth, and today, she’s moved to much larger facilities in Greenfield, where her classes typically draw 40 to 50 people.

“MEGAdance is a place where people of all ages, sizes, backgrounds, and fitness abilities work out, dance, and have fun without fear of judgment,” she told BusinessWest. “I strive to create a positive environment where everyone is celebrated, supported, and encouraged to be themselves and express their own rhythm in class and in life.”

Shaw said her classes are a judgment-free zone for women and men of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. “I love that women in their 70s come to my class; it’s very inspiring. And I strive to create a positive environment where everyone is supported and encouraged to be themselves. We are a fit family.”

It’s also a business that gives back to the community, offering free classes in low-income communities, schools, nursing homes, and at the Center for Human Development, and holding fund-raisers to support the New England Learning Center for Women in Transition, Shriners Hospitals for Children, Community Action, and most recently, the Peruvian Red Cross to help flood victims.

Shaw, who speaks Spanish fluently, is especially fond of Peru after spending the past two summers there, participating in internships that promote sustainable agriculture and working with indigenous communities.

“Because I come from a humble background and understand the struggle to live with few resources, I feel strongly about supporting the community,” she said, both in Peru and in her own backyard. To be able to do that while sharing her passion for dance, well, that’s just gravy.

“The goal in my professional life is nothing short of breaking the status quo and transforming my community through dance fitness, community building, and radical self-acceptance,” she noted, adding that seeing lives change for the better is only half the story.

“It’s reciprocal,” she said. “They change my life, too.”

—Joseph Bednar