Husna Lapidus, who has been a member of Elevate Fitness for over a year now, is the owner of The Kumon Math and Reading Center in Dewitt.
Husna Lapidus, Member of Elevate Fitness in Dewitt, photo by Laura Marino
We asked Husna to tell us about the center:
“60 years ago, the Kumon Method was created by a dad who wanted to help his son develop a love of learning and do better in school. Today, Kumon is the world’s largest after-school math and reading program, helping millions of children reach their full academic potential. My center, Kumon of DeWitt, serves the CNY area.
“Kumon’s mission is to unlock the potential of children, from preschool through high school, so they can achieve more on their own. The learning method uses an individualized approach that helps children develop a solid command of math and reading skills. Kumon assignments build solid study habits and help students progress their academic skills through daily practice.”
Q: What led you to this career?
A: I am fascinated by human motivation and brain plasticity, and I’m constantly faced with opportunities to motivate young people and to elevate their skills. What I do truly develops a child’s confidence, character, and attitude toward learning. There’s nothing more satisfying than that.
Q: Your business has a lot in common with Elevate, you promote intellectual fitness. Tell us about that.
A: That’s true – at Kumon we even use the word “elevate” a lot when referring to training the minds and attitudes of our students. Just like at the gym, my students come “as they are,” seeking to become better versions of themselves. My job and my passion is to provide students and their families an avenue for elevating their skills and abilities, to feel better about themselves and gain confidence. What you’d notice about Kumon students is that these young people have incredibly strong character in addition to a solid academic prowess.
Q: The Kumon Center isn’t a tutoring center, in fact, what you do has a further reaching benefit than tutoring. Can you tell us why?
A: Tutoring certainly has its place, but what sets Kumon apart is our time-tested methodology for developing self-learners. We don’t teach or tutor in the traditional sense; rather we focus on the development of habits and skills for life-long learning. Our math and reading curriculums are the catalysts for achieving that. We want our students to leave the center feeling accomplished and successful every time. It takes patience and humility to put aside my own ego and abilities to allow the students to realize their own potential and feel they are responsible for and capable of their own learning. When a child has a question or they feel stuck, we absolutely do help them, but instead of teaching them step-by-step how to solve the problem, we tap into the skills s/he has already mastered to draw out the correct answer. This way, the child – not anyone else – is the one who deserves the credit for his or her own learning. That feeling of pride in one’s self is what drives these kids to want to keep achieving more and more.
Q: Who are your services intended for?
A: Our students range from age 3 through high school. Some families seek our service because they have children who are struggling in school, some start early so their child never experiences struggle in school, and others want to provide an additional challenge for their child who is already advanced. We don’t limit our students to their age or grade level; in fact, most of our students begin working one-grade level ahead within 6-12 months, and many reach 3 or more grade levels ahead of their school grade.
Q: How can families benefit from Kumon?
A: Families benefit from having confident kids. Confidence does so much for a child. We all know that kids who are bullies lack confidence in themselves. With self-confidence kids become kinder and more compassionate toward others. They become leaders in their classrooms, and they tend to not need tutors down the line. They start being able to finish homework super-fast, which frees them up to do other activities like tennis or swimming lessons. My kids and so many of my Kumon students participate in these services at Elevate Fitness. It’s so important. These days the top colleges and universities look for more than just good grades – they want a well-rounded student. If you’re struggling academically, or if you lack confidence, you’re less able to pursue extracurricular activities that give you that competitive edge.
Q: You’re also a parent, tell us how you’re able to balance everything without sacrificing taking care of yourself.
A: In my first year of business ownership, I unexpectedly got pregnant with my third child. I was so busy, overworked and exhausted that my health really suffered. I gained too much weight in my pregnancy, and although I was working harder than ever before, I beat myself up for “letting myself go.” I knew I needed to do something to get back on track but managed to find every excuse to delay or avoid the work necessary to find health and fitness again. Finally, I decided that I deserved better than how I was treating myself and my body. My husband and kids deserve healthy wife and mom, my students deserve an energetic instructor, and my community needs strong leaders. When I got my priorities and goals aligned, I could start manifesting those rewards. I can’t say my balance is perfect, but it is something I feel good about. Now I’d recommend to anyone struggling with work-life-balance — lay out your priorities and goals on paper. Come back to those daily, weekly, monthly, and you’ll soon find it effortless to act in pursuit of your goals wholeheartedly.
Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s considering entrepreneurship in Syracuse?
A: Do what you are passionate about. If you truly are passionate about your field, the copious amounts of work will fill you up rather than drain you. If you can finish your day’s work and be simultaneously exhausted and blissful, you’ll know you’re doing it right.
Q: What’s one thing you wish you knew before you opened your own business?
A: I was happy to open a business where I didn’t have to report to anyone other than myself. I wish I had known how tough a boss I would be. I expect a lot of myself, I always seek ways to improve, and that means I work very hard. Knowing that before I opened the business, I wouldn’t have chosen not to do it, but it would have been nice to be prepared.
Q: You work with a personal trainer, Jeff, how has that helped you get more out of your Elevate membership.
A: Jeff keeps me accountable. When I have “training with Jeff” on my calendar, I always show up. The best part is that he takes the thinking out of my training. Knowing he has the perfect workout planned just for me, to help me reach my goals – that’s one less thing I have to plan out for myself. I always feel great after my training sessions with him because I know I made the best use out of that hour that I possibly could. For someone as busy as I am, efficiency is absolutely key.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share with Elevate Fitness members?
A: I love seeing so many of my students and their parents at Elevate. When I’m training, I really do keep them in mind. It feels great knowing that I follow the very same advice I give them by trying to better myself, and to work hard to achieve my goals. I think when my students see me there, all sweaty and breathless, they realize I’m a regular person just like everyone else out there struggling to improve, and that’s just one more thing I can connect with them about.
Q: Final question: what are your favorite and least favorite exercises?
A: I’ve learned that my least-favorite exercises were the ones I felt least confident doing. Now I’ve adopted the attitude I expect of my own students – we have to work to get good at things, and when we get good at them, we start to love them. For that reason, I don’t have a least-favorite, but my absolute most favorite is unequivocally the Turkish Get Up.
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