Since 1995, Salsa Lovers’ certified dance instructors have led classes for everyone from novices to master dancers. Along with salsa sessions, they also lead students through jazz, ballroom, tango, and other dances that obviate offbeat shuffling, finger pointing, and pretend texting at weddings.
The three owners of Shake Shake It Fitness & Dance Studio draw from a lifelong love of musical movement to teach all the one-hour workout dance classes on their calendar. Instructors motivate the movement in lessons such as modern hip-hop, which is based on video and commercial moves, and Zumba, where students burn calories by moving to Latin and international rhythms and then setting twinkies on fire. In Sexy Dance and Cardio Dance, instructor Ivana looks to raise the heart rate with a variety of choreography, and traditional belly-dance teacher Miss Jihan Jamal instructs pupils of all levels in the controlled poses of Middle Eastern¬–style shimmying.
After losing 135 pounds, Spinderella Fitness owner Elizabeth Rodriguez was determined to inspire other women to seize control of their health and strive for the energy and confidence of the physically fit. She became a certified nutritionist and personal trainer before undertaking the study of a less conventional subject: pole dancing. Rodriguez struggled at first. She recalls that she "use[d] to go home in tears" of frustration. But 17 months later, she opened her own pole-dance fitness studio, and then a second one to meet the demand for her teachings.
Rodriguez's studios host more than two-dozen classes thanks to her collaboration with Melissa Fernandez—a trained dancer with a background in jazz, ballet, and hip hop—who helped broaden the curriculum. This collaboration has resulted in both high-energy, cardio-driven workouts as well as those inspired by salsa, Flashdance, and the sensual rippling of national flags.
Students who are serious about mastering advanced pole maneuvers progress through several levels. After mastering a pole routine at one level, they receive a colored thong to mark their graduation to the next. Pole climbing students repeat the process until they are certified black-thong dancers capable of disarming a kung fu master with the twist of a hip.
Certified Zumba instructor Sandra Acosta leads students through energetic, Latin-inspired dance movements, tapping into her experience training with Zumba creator Beto Perez. Easier to follow than paint-by-the-numbers, Zumba amalgamates traditional aerobics with simple dance steps for an entertaining, calorie-zapping workout. Participants can burn fat more effectively than a pyromaniac in a butcher shop during their eight different Zumba sessions. Classes are held at various times and locations throughout the week, so dancers can shake their booties on their own schedules.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.