It's Wednesday and a group of newcomers shuffles into an empty fitness studio. Some anxiously fidget with their fingers as they see the professional floor where they'll be dancing, and others take deep breaths and stretch out their limbs like they've done countless times at the gym. This motley mix of strangers is what Gwenda Hansen envisioned when she founded Be Bad Hip Hop.
Hansen, who struggled with weight as a young adult and started choreographing when she was 13 years old, shares her Be Bad Hip Hop dance-fitness routines in a supportive, accepting, and empowering environment. As the infectious melodies of Top 40 music escape the sound system's quarantine and fill the communal space, newcomers relax into the easy-to-follow moves, and regulars of all ages lose themselves in the hourlong sequence of club-style, hip-hop shimmies and shakes led by Hansen or one of her skilled instructors.