Making it work outside the Hill

 Maybe you’ve always loved to cook, but never thought you could make it as a professional chef. Do you get massages from time to time and wonder as you’re getting kneaded and stretched, “Could I make it as a therapist?”

Heidi Schimpf, Christophe Stanic and Tam Gelman are three individuals who chose to pursue their dreams.

Joy of Motion Dance Center: Heidi Schimpf 

Heidi Schimpf, who received her master’s degree at American University in theater and secondary education, teaches jazz, tap and modern dance, and is director of programs and services at the Joy of Motion Dance Center.

A Tennessee native, Schimpf said that a lot of people make a living teaching dance. “Dance is something that if you’re interested in it, you should give it time,” she said. “It is rewarding and challenging and a great art form to discover yourself.”

With more than 100 teachers, Joy of Motion is the largest dance education center in the area, with schools in Bethesda, Friendship Heights and D.C.’s Atlas District.

An Intro to Dance course and an extensive drop-in program — where students can pay for a single class — adds additional incentives to those thinking about learning how to dance. Joy of Motion also offers hip-hop, ballet, jazz and many dance fitness courses such as Zumba. 

“Our youth program is a wonderful opportunity as well,” Schimpf said. “There’s a Kids in Motion program popular with first through 12th graders as well as a pre-professional track.”

If you’re interested in Joy of Motion, but still a little weary about shaking what your momma gave you, it may be worth checking out one of the 40-plus concerts they hold each year.

More information on Joy of Motion can be found at

Personal Chef DC: Christophe Stanic

Christophe Stanic learned about the restaurant business through his uncle, who owned an eatery in London. But it wasn’t until he was on vacation in Barcelona, Spain, that Stanic decided to become a chef. 

“I was particularly interested in molecularly gastronomy,” he said. “It combined my love of science and food.”

Stanic studied at the Culinary School of Strasbourg in France for three years. After his schooling, he worked at L’Arnsbourg, one of the 50 best restaurants in the world. And after that, he was sent to work at the Willard InterContinental Hotel, in downtown D.C.

Two years later, yearning to try something different, Stanic started Personal Chef DC. Stanic’s brainchild brings chefs to your home to offer three- to five-hour cooking classes for $390-$490. Personal Chef DC also has a school in Falls Church, Va., but most customers prefer in-home instruction.

“Everybody wants to try cooking French food,” he said. “It’s the authenticity of it all.”

Classes are for those serious who are about trying out cooking — Stanic makes anything from olive-oil chocolate tarts to black-salt truffles and other gourmet treats.

“I always set up a personalized menu with clients beforehand,” he said. “We won’t be cooking boeuf bourguignon if they aren’t fans of beef — it just wouldn’t make sense.”

For more information on Personal Chef DC, visit

Potomac Massage Training Institute: Tam Gelman

Tam Gelman has been part of the Potomac Massage Training Institute for years. The 35-year-old nonprofit massage and body work school is one of the few nonprofit schools left in the country.

Gelman first became interested in massage when she played wingman to a friend who attended an info session at the school. She made the decision to change careers shortly thereafter. She now sits on the board of directors at PMTI.

“I had worked with large groups of people my whole life, and I was just really interested in working with people one-on-one,” Gelman said. 

PMTI accepts an average of 50 new students per semester, with 150 people on campus any given week. Ages of students range from high-school graduates to those in their late 60s and early 70s, and info sessions much like the one Gelman attended when she made her career decision are offered monthly. There are also classes like “touch of massage” where students can drop in and observe teaching.

Many students are taught through PMTI’s clinics, where customers can book a student massage for $37, graduate massage for $55 or get professional work done for $80.

More information on PMTI can be found at