Kosolu Ananti started her own dance fitness company to celebrate her son's life and learned to love her body in the process.

By Faith Brar
March 06, 2018

Kosolu Ananti has always loved moving her body. Growing up in the late '80s, aerobics was her jam. As her workouts evolved, she started doing more strength training and cardio, but always found a way to squeeze in a few dance moves in between. In 2014, she became a certified personal trainer, then became pregnant-and everything changed. (Read how ballet helped another woman reconnect with her body.)

"From the very beginning, I knew something wasn't right," Kosolu, who goes by Kasa, told Shape. "I was bleeding a lot, but every time I'd go to the hospital or visit my ob-gyn, they'd tell me my pregnancy was still viable."

By the time she was six months along, Kasa had taken a lot of time off of work for doctor's appointments and emergency hospital visits. She was worried that any more absence could cost her her job. So one day, when she felt some unusual cramping, she decided to push through it, thinking everything was probably fine, just like it had been all the times before.

After being in pain for a while and having some spotting, she decided to go to the hospital, where they told her she was in premature labor. "By the time I got in, I was 2cm dilated," Kasa says.

She stayed in the hospital for two days, hoping to keep the baby in for as long as possible. On day three, she gave birth to her son via emergency C-section.

Her son was extremely premature, but things were looking up. "He was moving a lot, his eyes were open-which made us think we had a chance," Kasa said. But seven days later while Kasa and her husband were visiting their son in the NICU, his organs started failing and he passed away.

"We were in disbelief," Kasa says. "Even though we knew to be wary, we had so much hope, which made his loss still seem like a shock."

For the next three months, Kasa was lost. "I just didn't feel like myself anymore," she says. "I didn't want to go anywhere or do anything and there were moments where I wished I didn't wake up. But I knew I had to find a way to live somehow." (Related: Here's Exactly What Happened When I Had a Miscarriage)

Kasa found herself in uncontrollable tears after watching an infant diaper commercial. "I felt so pathetic and knew I had to get up and do something, if not for myself then for the memory of my son," she says. "I was at such a low, had gained 25 pounds and was doing nothing to move forward."

So, she decided to do what she'd dreamed of doing for the past few years: starting her own dance fitness company. "I'd always want to create something that combined my love for dance and fitness and thought up the idea for afrikoPOP back in 2014," Kasa says. "As a first-generation African American, I wanted to create something that included West African dance with high-intensity training." (See also: 5 New Dance Classes That Double As Cardio)

After getting the all-clear to work out from her doc, Kasa started designing the class. "Since January, I've shared afrikoPOP with hundreds of people and the feedback and love is amazing," she says. (Classes are available in the Dallas–Fort Worth area for now.)

By putting herself out there, chasing her dream, and learning to enjoy working out again, Kasa has learned to love and accept her body following the loss of her son. "Infant mortality is so much more common than you'd think, but there's so much shame around it," Kasa says. "You find yourself asking what's wrong with you? Everyone else seems to be having babies just fine, why can't you?"

But starting afrikoPOP made Kasa realize that what happened wasn't her fault. "I had hardly told anyone what happened to my son, and reclaiming my body and confidence again made me realize that it was okay to share my story," she says. "So many women came forward with similar stories, making me realize even more that I'm not alone."

Today, Kasa is pregnant again with no complications. "I want women to know how important it is to listen to your body, pregnant or not," Kasa says. "As for my son, he is my fighter, my warrior my guardian angel and I thank God for his life. His spirit is pushing me on this journey. He keeps me dancing."

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September 1, 2018
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