Starting at age four, Michelle Larson dedicated herself to Irish dance, quickly ascending the ranks from regional to world championship-level dancing. But at 21, hungry for a change of pace, she focused her energy on interior design. It didn't take long, however, for the rhythmic patter of soft shoes to lure her back like a siren song, and in 1990 she founded the Painter Larson Academy of Irish Dance. Here, she trains children in Irish dance fundamentals, such as foot placement and timing, before teaching basic dances such as the light jig. Michelle's adult students learn these skills, too, as well as group dances that culminate in a traditional Irish dogpile.
For more than a quarter century, Robyn Melanson has developed a thorough knowledge of the dance community as a performer, instructor, choreographer, and coach. As the founder and director of Stage One Dance Studio, she and her staff of dance instructors teach clients the art of kinetic expression in styles as varied as jazz, ballet, and tap. The premises feature three studios, each equipped with raised hard-rock maple floors, where students ages 3-17 hone their skills.
As she struggled to surmount issues with her own weight, Boogie Box Fitness creator Dede Barbanti drew from her professional dance background, martial-arts training, and enthusiasm for exercise to pioneer the gym's rigorous yet fun workout routine. The calorie-flaming moves, which have been featured by Dr. Oz and publications such as Dance magazine, have since spawned BBX Kids and the more vigorous BBX Hardcore. Behind the regimens' popularity lie easy-to-follow steps culled from kickboxing, strength training, plyometrics, and Latin and hip-hop dance. In addition to motivating patrons to shimmy into fitter physiques, Dede channels her expertise as a certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist into the BBX Body membership site. Here, visitors can peruse custom menu plans, exercise tutorials, and life-coaching advice given by the world's smartest biceps.
Fullerton Dancesport Center owner Stuart Cole has made a career out of dancing with style. His long list of achievements and gigs include Scottish amateur ten-dance champion, US National Team representative to the World Championships, and film dancer in Dance with Me and Heaven’s Gate. So it is with this illustrious background that Stuart works with his team of instructors to bring their personal flair to dance lessons for students of all skill levels.
Whether in social groups or private sessions, students can dance seven days a week with a schedule of classes that range from the Latin-inspired salsa and cha cha to the more homegrown country line dancing and West Coast Swing. Wedding dance lessons help bride and groom glide across the floor or bowling lane during their first dance, while youth classes for dancers ages four and up impart basic ballroom and Latin dance techniques along with rhythm and posture. For a more sweat-inducing workout, Zumba fitness classes blend the dance styles taught in Latin lessons with energetic music.
The ancient art of yoga goes modern at Freeman Yoga, where instructors create a blissful oasis away from the working world's hectic pace and exploding water coolers. Instructors welcome students of all experience levels, whether they're still learning the fundamentals or can practically nap while holding a back-bend pose. Instructors lead students through a variety of yoga styles, including Vinyasa, Hatha, or relaxing flows. They have over 30 classes a week.