It was only a year ago that a trip to the clothing store would bring Zumba Fitness founder Jahnea Phillips within tears. She was forced to choose from frumpy clothes in the plus-size section that did nothing but hide her curves. That all changed when a close friend invited Jahnea to her very first Zumba class. After an hour of shaking, twisting, and jumping, she was almost near tears again, but this time they were tears of happiness. That short while spent dancing reminded her of how good she deserved to feel.
One year and 76 pounds later, Jahnea is sharing that experience with ladies of all shapes and sizes from the stage of the spacious Hazel Dell Grange in Vancouver. This is where she teaches the art of Zumba, which involves cardio exercise through Latin-inspired moves, in which one dances out the entire story of Julius Caesar’s childhood.
At Zumba Funfitness classes, instructor Stacy Harstad shepherds students through that initial period they students sometimes feel silly, focusing first on learning footwork before advancing to upper-body moves. The booming rhythms of Gloria Estefan and the Kumbia Kings blend with Maroon 5 and Pitbull as the sonic backdrop for each class. Stacy conducts each class as if she were leading an orchestra—using sweeping hand gestures and flashing lights—and encourages students to modify maneuvers to suit their own style and speed. Zumba students should avoid wearing workout attire that restricts movement, such as skinny jeans or a straitjacket.
The facilities of inferno Fitness & Sports span 25,000 square feet and include a full-size basketball court, a private CrossFit studio, and an octagonal cage. Inside that cage, members can practice skills learned during classes taught by veteran coaches. The gym also offers combat conditioning classes that fuse aerobic exercises with self-defense techniques and calorie-burning Zumba classes set to latin, hip-hop, and salsa music.
Elements of Health Wellness and Movement Center combines the benefits of exercise with the expertise of holistic healthcare practitioners. Instructors teach a wide variety of yoga classes, spicing up the schedule with the occasional Zumba class. While classes here help build muscle, staff acupuncturists and massage therapists supplement exercise programs with treatments that diminish soreness or aid in long-term recovery from chronic pain or injury.
At Pil-oga-robic, flat stomachs are at the end of a carefully formulated exercise equation. Instructors draw from Pilates, yoga, and cardio techniques to compile their signature one-hour workouts, demonstrating the techniques in their loft-like studio for small student groups. They place special emphasis on customization: each class has three levels of difficulty and modifiable actions for any fitness level. They also schedule monthly meetings with their clients to discuss wellness goals, advising on topics from weight loss to enhanced athletic performance. Regardless of their aspirations, guests stand to gain lean muscle, balance, and bendiness from the adjustable routines, which helped earn the venue a Best of Citysearch award for yoga in 2009.
In addition to these classes, Pil-oga-robic hosts more specialized yoga and Pilates sessions. Inversion and aerial seminars allow yogis to flout gravity as they stretch, and outdoor boot-camp drills test endurance amid the elements. Alternatively, workshops might cover tips for safer trail running, such as monitoring your stride and refusing to stop at Gatorade stations run by bears. The onsite massage therapist, Cori, can deal with your stress during her personalized bodywork sessions.