Though Sharika Giddens grew up dancing, her family was afflicted with obesity and diabetes. So when she put on weight after college, she quickly joined a gym, and discovered a workout that catered to her love for dance: Zumba. At Hot Body Fitness Boutique, Sharika banishes boredom from her Zumba, pole-dancing, and yoga classes with energetic exercise routines.
At Zumba Fitness & Health, licensed Zumba instructor Vanessa St. Julien guides students through calorie-burning, muscle-sculpting dance routines set to Latin music. In each one-hour session, up to 200 students throw their arms in the air, sway their hips to the beat, and shake out sweat in workouts far more dynamic than traditional weightlifting or cavalier weight-dropping.
One Step Above encompasses a crew of urban professionals who sought a classier alternative to dance moves they witnessed in the club scene. Harkening back to a grander time, they specialize in styles such as Detroit (urban) ballroom, Chicago stepping, and soul line dancing, choreographing routines that earned them a Best Choreography award at the Usher’s New Look summer camp and a spot in the movie Stomp the Yard. During classes, instructors stress the lead-and-follow relationship, working with each student at their individual pace.
With locations in Midtown and Duluth, the Ballroom Dance Clubs of Atlanta teaches aspiring ballroom kings and queens how to confidently execute such staples as traditional waltz, foxtrot, salsa, and swing. A cast of instructors brings years of experience to the dance floor as they shepherd their charges through rug-cutting private and group lessons, dissipating patrons’ nervousness with a cheerful demeanor and constant reassurance that their high-school crushes aren't watching. The studios' weekly parties give students the chance to mingle with their peers and practice freshly learned techniques in a laid-back environment.
No one has ever trained for the lead in Swan Lake just to tighten their abs, but dancers, choreographers, and Atlanta Zumba Dance instructors Faaridah and Nahari both agree that it comes with the territory. That’s why they’ve channeled their experiences in the performing arts into a platform for dance-based fitness instruction. Faaridah was particularly drawn to Zumba because of her Caribbean and Hispanic heritage, and Nahari has been a student of Middle Eastern dances for nearly a decade, so their curriculum of Zumba and belly dancing was a natural fit.
Students can shed pounds and throw on their shiniest layer of sweat during Zumba classes, a 60-minute dance-based aerobic workout with easy-to-follow choreography performed to a soundtrack of Latin rhythms. The dance moves are an amalgam of styles that includes elements of salsa, cha-cha, merengue, flamenco, and tango. Classes at Atlanta Zumba Dance always begin with a warm-up, followed by intervals of faster and slower tempos. Visits conclude with a cool-down and stretch session. In addition to group classes, patrons may rent the studio for a private-lesson Zumba party or to spin around in an office chair without anyone telling them that they’ll get sick.
Ten career women step into their hot shorts, high heels, and alter egos when teaching at Vertical Joe's. They go by monikers such as The Headliner and Sexy Locs, teaching pole dancing, twerking, Pilates, and cardio kick classes all while encouraging students to jettison their inhibitions. To create a comfortable atmosphere, the studio hosts groups of bachelorette partiers or girls-night-outers for private sessions that teach the techniques behind pole dancing, lap dancing, and sexy tax prep. Vertical Joe's brand of flirty fun has even made guest appearances on The Real Housewives of Atlanta and Braxton Family Values.