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.
Whether it’s rooms, clothes, or pet hamsters, sisters share everything. For Faaridah, Leena, and Nahari, that transaction extends to their love and appreciation for belly dancing and the Middle Eastern culture. Eventually, their passion led to the shared ownership of Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance, where they—along with four other instructors—lead sultry, body-sculpting belly-dancing and Zumba classes.
Basic classes lay a foundation of arm and hip movements, and specialty sessions fuse belly dance with a number of other dance styles, including hip hop, blues, and Bollywood, for a dance mélange that tones muscles more effectively than waltzing with a Bowflex. Classes may cover traditional Egyptian, Turkish, Tribal, and Gypsy styles, while others create innovative choreography set to steam-punk-tribal fusion, Arab electronica, and tango fusion. Some even incorporate such props as fan veils, canes, and brass candleholders, all available for purchase so that guests can practice at home, or play makeshift games of Clue.
Trained by Zumba founder Beto Perez, Janet Ackerman has spread the gospel of Zumba worldwide, teaching classes in Chile, Mexico, India, China, and Hong Kong. Back home, she became one of Atlanta’s first Zumba instructors and now shares her fitness passion with hordes of willing participants. ZumbaAtlanta.com offers group dance parties several days a week, helping attendees burn calories through fun, hip-shaking dance steps set to modern Latin music, and offers events such as motivational team building for corporate groups or private Zumba Fitness parties for bachelorettes.
Dance 411 Studios' instructors pause from stints as featured dancers in Justin Bieber music videos and on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew to helm the studio’s range of dance classes. The schedule aims to incorporate something for everyone, from the youthful whimsy of children's tumbling classes to the practical firefighting experience of adult pole dancing. Vibrant orange and red walls add energy to the individual studios, and expansive windows reflect off gleaming hardwood floors that echo stomps of students and shadows trying to keep up.
At the women’s only Glitter’s Fitness Club, visitors tone their physiques while unleashing their inner vixens during a choice of 22 classes per week. Instructors guide students through yoga and Piloxing, a fusion of Pilates and boxing, and helm sultry Zumba dance parties and Sexy Chair classes, during which students learn to look seductive while building a wooden rocking chair.
Whether he's training a celebrity for an upcoming role in an action film or helping a client lose weight, Joey Dillon is poised to challenge and motivate. It's a role the personal trainer first took on in high school, when he would assist his fellow football players in reaching their fitness goals. Now the owner of STATUS Athletic Club travels to his company's locations in LA, Miami, New York, and Atlanta to oversee the various programs he's established and personally train clients.
Clients will find plenty to do to jump-start their fitness routines or maintain their physiques. They can simultaneously strengthen muscles and self-defense skills during Brazilian jujitsu and muay thai kickboxing classes; fortify their cores and postures in Pilates sessions; and trick themselves into working out during upbeat Zumba classes. They can also meet with nutritionists to create meal plans that will help them shed unwanted pounds—or relinquish stress and muscle aches during massages and chiropractic appointments.