Angie Acosta, founder of Queen City DanceOut, has a simple motto for her students: "If you're moving, you're doing it right." This encouraging, low-pressure attitude attracts people of all ages to her dance-inspired fitness classes, which meet at 18 public locations. Angie and her instructors aim to make exercise feel like a celebration and a refreshing break rather than a dreaded routine. To this end, their classes incorporate intuitive dance moves and invigorating music. DanceOut, the signature course, blends genres as diverse as swing, hip-hop, and reggae into a workout, relying on repetition and basic choreography to keep everyone grooving. Other highlights of the curriculum include the Latin rhythms of Zumba; the Dance Impact class, which fuses dance and kickboxing; and JamStrong, a mixture of core-conditioning, dance, and fun.
Community is a central aspect of every DanceOut class. As pupils practice their twirls, they can follow both the teacher and the Jam Crew—a team of regulars who help make the steps easy to follow and can assist fellow dancers. In addition to group workouts, instructors host skill workshops such as Booty Bootcamp, where attendees learn rump-shaking techniques and how to turn any chair into a rocking chair. They also put on performances and lead private classes for special events and parties.
While teaching jazz dance in the 1960s, Judi Sheppard Missett decided to step away from tradition by offering an experimental class that allowed her students to simply dance without the judgment of mirrors or the constraints of rigid technique. In these sessions, she began infusing popular dance moves with specific fitness workouts to forge a distinctive blend of cardio exercise, strength training, and dance instruction. Little did she know that this “just for fun” class was the prototype for what would become the national fitness sensation known as Jazzercise.
Today, Jazzercise takes its aerobic techniques from a variety of sources that include jazz dance, hip-hop, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, and kickboxing. The class formats, which vary according to different toning goals, are just as diverse as the program's move set. Two-time Dancing with the Stars champion Cheryl Burke is a big fan of the improvisational routines, although her advanced skills aren't needed to get the most out of classes. Instructors cultivate a noncompetitive atmosphere where all exercisers—with the exception of those marked as cursed by jazz-hand palm readers—are welcome regardless of age, build, or fitness background.
Energetic music ricochets off the scarlet and yellow walls in B-Risque’s intimate studio. These tunes animate groups of empowered ladies as they tone muscles and whip hearts into a salutary cardiovascular frenzy during alternative fitness classes structured around sexy moves. Pole-dancing classes use a small forest of poles as shiny and golden as Midas's skiing equipment to help strengthen muscles and build flexibility. Popular Jamaica Me Fit classes, meanwhile, set calorie-torching moves to reggae and Caribbean tunes. B-Risque Fitness prides itself on making workouts enjoyable and inclusive to exercisers of all fitness levels. Some classes are designed specifically for plus-size women, such as Curvaceous Cardio, which focuses on conditioning hips, abs, and thighs.
Dianna Akar isn't the least bit intimidated by the fact that her clients all start at different fitness levels. On the contrary, she relishes the challenge, tailoring her programs to align with each of their goals. Akar is a certified personal trainer, using her experience to helm outdoor boot-camp sessions for both men and women that draw from yoga, aerobics, plyometrics, strength training, and chimney sweeping.