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Saturday Morning Dance Party, Sans TikTok 

Dance fitness offers a dose of joy, in person or otherwise

It's 9:30 on a Saturday, and rather than my usual routine—snuggling up with a French press and a fresh fantasy novel—I'm doing a few stretches in anticipation of my first in-person fitness class since, well, what we all lovingly refer to as the "before-times."

"If you're worried that everyone is looking at you, they're not," the instructor of this Bliss Dance workout at Sekse Fit explains—seemingly entering the brains of the dozen or so women assembled in fairly neat, staggered rows inside the studio in the Box Factory on this sunny Saturday. Over the past couple years, billions of people have watched and even performed dance routines on TikTok—part of the mindless chatter of "content" many of us are consuming during these times of increased isolation. But that's far from the only way that dance, and dance fitness, have entered the lives of so many.

Dance fitness classes let you get your groove on and dance to great tunes, without having to stay up late at night at the club. Plus, no dress code. - COURTESY BRUCE MARS/UNSPLASH
  • Courtesy Bruce Mars/Unsplash
  • Dance fitness classes let you get your groove on and dance to great tunes, without having to stay up late at night at the club. Plus, no dress code.

Dance fitness classes have long been a thing. Remember Jazzercise? It's still around, and still drawing those looking for a fun method of fitness. In the '80s, Jane Fonda was blasted into many Americans' living rooms with her aerobic workout videos. Many people discovered Zumba in the 2000s—an opportunity for moms, former dancers and cheerleaders and so many more, largely women, who wanted an outlet for dance beyond the late-night club.

While Zumba is still popular, other dance fitness classes are also part of the overall trend. According to one analysis of fitness trends in the United Kingdom during the pandemic, dance fitness was the top trend, based on the bookings at GymCatch.

At Sekse Fit in Bend—perhaps best known for its pole dancing classes (see the companion article to this one, featuring two instructors who recently competed in the pole art Worlds), opportunities for a good dance-induced sweat abound.

Chris Easly, co-founder of Sekse Fit, made a number of recommendations for classes to check out at the studio, including, of course, the recommendation to try beginner pole. Easly founded the studio with fellow moms Kimberly Yannariello and Kimberly Thurman, with a mission "to affect change in peoples' lives by redefining what it means to be 'sexy' and refining the dance and pole fitness industry."

Being more of a former Zumba-head, I opted for Bliss Dance instead of pole.

"Don't let the name fool you," the class description reads. "This class is a phenomenal fun, serious sweat, cardio dance party!... No dance experience required."

Many athletic pursuits require a dose of surrender for best results. With cycling—something I do regularly, on the trails, streets and gravel roads around Central Oregon—the surrender, or, rather, the "flow state" I get into lets me experience a dose of euphoria, but also helps block out the occasional suffering of climbing long hills.

Escaping the "monkey mind" is a pursuit in yoga, too—an endeavor in quieting the constant chatter of an overwhelmed mind. In dance fitness, in my experience, the surrender or "zone" is also necessary so that you can keep up with the steps and "flow." Think too hard about the fact that you're supposed to step to the right once, then left once, then right twice before twirling around and you're bound to mess it up. Better to simply let your body and mind connect without excessive intellectualizing. Seeking this flow and getting a break from heavy thought is ideal for a "knowledge worker," such as myself.

Still—this can be better said than done, and the key is in the instructor's edict to avoid worrying about what others think of you, or whether they're watching. But avoiding the old cliché to, "dance like nobody's watching" can be harder to achieve than the simple phrase makes it seem. Being in a supportive environment is a big piece of the puzzle—and from my experience at Sekse, it's got that locked down.

"The company culture is really special here," Easly told me via email. "It's much more than just a place to have fun and get fit."

Great music and enthusiastic instructors are part of that experience. Feeling like you're part of bigger whole was also helpful. At the end of the Saturday morning Bliss Dance class, the instructor had us gather in a circle, dancing together and passing an imaginary "ball" from one person to the next before embarking on a free-form dance in which everyone did whatever the heck they wanted. A little choreographed flow state, followed by freedom to just be you—even if everyone else was watching for a moment or two.

Those who have spent the pandemic dancing in front of their own mirrors and sharing the videos on TikTok are gaining a type of freedom and fitness that they may not have known before. For me, however, dancing alone at home was only going to go so far. Turns out, what I really needed was to show up, with a bunch of other people, and be reminded that no matter what I did in that room, it was just for me.

Sekse Fit
Classes offered 7 days a week
550 SW Industrial Way, Suite 154, Bend

About The Author

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been editor of the Source since 2016. While the pandemic reduced "hobbies" to "aspirations," you can mostly find her raising chickens, walking dogs, riding all the bikes and attempting to turn a high desert scrap of land into a permaculture oasis. (Progress: slow.)
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