Learn how to be belle of the barre from a former ballerina.
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Have you ever come across a fitness class on Instagram and thought, that looks so fun, only to scroll on by knowing you’d never in a million years actually sign up for it? Because, same.
For me, it’s always been dance. Pole dancing, twerking, salsa, ballet, Zumba... I don’t even think twice about booking. There is no way in hell I’m heading into a studio with a bunch of strangers and attempting to follow along to some moves I’ve never tried before.
...and then there was COVID.
When studios everywhere started to shut down, virtual fitness started to blow up—and all of the sudden, I had the opportunity to try basically anything without leaving my house (or feeling at all embarrassed). It was a silver lining and a kick in the ass all wrapped into one.
I started small, doing the classes I was most comfortable with. Once I had perfected my online yoga routine, I needed a little more oomph, so, I stepped it up to HIIT. I was proud of myself for getting back into the swing of things after a long the-world-is-ending-so-I-don't-need-to-work-out break. But still, I hadn’t fully gotten out of my comfort zone. I had taken in-person yoga and HIIT classes before, so even though I had tried out some new studios online, I had a general idea of what to expect.
Then, my coworkers told me about Rachel Vickhouse and MVP Dance Fit. Rachel and some other badass, beautiful ladies coined the phrase “Lift Your Booty, Love Your Body ™,” and that’s what MVP Dance Fit is all about. They told me this studio offered twerk fitness classes, and that right now, they’re not only offering virtual, but they’re giving one free class to all newbies, too.
I was curious.
Without really looking into it much further, I trusted my coworkers and signed up for the signature “Swerk” class (Sweat, Work, Twerk) to take after work one day.
Or so I thought...
My first mistake was not checking the time zone before booking. I thought I was signing up for a class at 5:30 PM, but turns out, the studio is in Ohio. Seeing that I live in California, my timing was all off. Luckily, I realized my mistake when I received the link to join the class in my inbox, and I had time to get ready to twerk in the middle of my workday (whoops).
I usually exercise out on my deck, but there was no way I was going to give my neighbors a free show (although I’m sure it would’ve spiced up their Monday). So, there I was—at 2:30 PM on a Monday afternoon, dragging my coffee table to the side, shutting my blinds and curtains, filling up my water bottle, and getting ready to dance like no one was watching.
When I logged on, I saw lots of faces on the screen. One woman was dancing while doing her laundry, another was rocking to the beat in her living room, and another had a prime weight room setup I was pretty jealous of. About half of the participants had their cameras turned on and were starting to warm up (AKA dance around) to the Drake song that was playing, while the other half kept their videos off. Because these women looked like seasoned pros, and I was a total newbie, I opted to keep mine off. (Yes, this is 100% an excuse. I know you see right through me.)
Then, Rachel herself appeared onscreen with French braids and bright pink lipstick. I’ve never seen someone with more energy—I swear, I think she was drinking Diet Coke out of her tumbler, but I can’t be sure. She let everyone know there were a bunch of first-timers in class, and they’d all have to show us how it’s done (no pressure). She asked if anyone had any song requests, and the chat started popping off.
After that, there was no messing around. The first song started playing, and she got right to it. Right about now, I was so glad I had my camera off because I must’ve looked ridiculous. She was moving so fast, and I was stumbling trying to keep up.
She went from sliding left to right, to dropping low, to lifting a leg and landing in a squat, to hands-on-the-floor-ass-in-the-air, all in the span of a song.
But after just a few minutes, I started getting the hang of it. The choreography repeated, with different moves for different parts of the song, and once I figured them out, I was able to keep up.
As soon as I got the hang of song #1, we were onto the next. And I love a challenge, so I was ready. Throughout class, we switched from more cardio-intensive songs to leg-focused dances involving squats and lunges. Halfway through, I was sweating. I couldn’t believe how much fun I was having, while also getting such a good workout at the same time.
At the end, I was so proud of myself for getting out of my comfort zone, and I definitely felt the high of a great workout on a day when I was feeling some serious Monday energy (or lack of energy) beforehand. I’m so thankful virtual was an option, because, without it, I don’t know if I ever would’ve tried a class like this.
During class, I knew I’d end up being sore, and over the next few days, I proved myself right. The next morning, I stood up out of bed and I felt it in my quads and glutes. Thinking I’d be good by the weekend, I planned an eight-mile hike for Saturday morning with some friends. I was so sore I thought they were going to have to leave me on the mountain. Thanks, Rachel.
1. Check the time zone.
Luckily, I figured it out just in time, but if I didn’t check my email, I easily could’ve missed my class. The beauty of online fitness classes is you can book them at studios all over the world. But, with that, comes time differences. Whenever you’re booking a virtual class, make sure you check the time zone and figure out where the studio is located, so you don’t have to ditch your afternoon meetings. (Unless that’s what you’re going for. Then, more power to you.)
2. Wear shoes.
This might seem obvious, but to me, it wasn’t. When I was getting ready to start class, I wasn’t sure if I needed to wear shoes or if I should have a yoga mat, towel, or weights ready. I wasn’t really sure of anything, to be honest. So, after I made some space in my living room, I looked up MVP Dance Fit on Instagram to see if I could find some answers. From the looks of it, no equipment was necessary, and shoes were probably a good idea. So, if you’re reading this, I hope I saved you some trouble. All you need is some shoes and a little bit of space.
3. Know that no one’s watching you.
Camera or not, no one can really see what you’re doing. And no one cares. I started off the class in gallery mode so I could see everyone, but to follow along with Rachel’s movements, I had to have her on full screen, and I couldn’t pay attention to anyone else in class. Having the camera on just gives everyone the sense that you’re in class together, just like you would be in person. So, maybe next time, I’ll toughen up and leave it on.
4. Maybe have some caffeine.
Should I be encouraging that? I don’t know. But man, that girl had a lot of energy. And dancing takes a lot out of you. About halfway through, when I started getting tired, I wished I’d had something caffeinated before to get me through. But maybe that’s just me. The good music and Rachel’s encouragement definitely got me going, and I had a lot of fun with it.
5. Try it with friends.
Distracting or helpful? I’m not sure. But I do know it would’ve been so fun to have seen all my friends dancing around in little boxes on the screen from their respective houses. And since the first class is free, it probably wouldn’t have been too hard to convince them. So, if you’re planning on trying it out, get some friends to join! I’m sure it’ll be fun to talk about after.
I’d recommend this class to anyone who likes hip-hop and wants to spice up their routine. If you’ve thought about trying a twerk fitness class, just do it already. There are literally no more excuses (coming from someone who would literally never set foot in a dance studio for real).
Maybe pole dancing is more up your alley, or maybe you’ve never tried a HIIT class before. Whatever it is, just know that it's the perfect time to get over your exercise embarrassment and try something new.
To say the last year and a half was tough would be an understatement. In fact, it will probably go down as one of the most difficult times for our modern generation. In one of the many social polls we conducted during the pandemic, some of you described this time as a sheer “dumpster fire” or “like stepping on a Lego.” And to be honest, I couldn’t agree more.
Luckily, we’ve been able to get back to some form of normalcy in our lives and wellness routines over the last several months. As vaccines became available to the public, wellness businesses welcomed fitness fanatics, haircut seekers, and massage lovers back to in-person wellness experiences. And thank goodness for that—my roots and horrible posture from working from my bed were both getting wildly out of control. This girl needed a good massage and cupping session stat.
If there’s one thing we learned from the pandemic, it’s that our wellness routines are as personal as they are important. During shelter-at-home, those routines looked a bit different. For many, it meant taking a new approach to the “typical” wellness services we count on—I’m looking at you DIY haircuts, at-home waxing sessions (ouch!), and virtual swerking classes.
Now that we can leave our humble abodes to take advantage of in-person experiences again, the word “wellness” has seemingly taken on a new meaning.
Recently, we conducted another one of our famous social polls to see what wellness means to you, our Mindbody community, now that we're slowly but surely getting back to our regularly scheduled programming. We also tapped some of our most influential Mindbody business owners about the ever-evolving wellness landscape.
Here’s what you all had to say.
According to our annual Mindbody Wellness Index, 60% of Americans say they’re more focused on their health and wellness since COVID. Consumers are now realizing they need to take greater care of themselves to optimize and preserve their health. When we asked you on Instagram how important wellness is, a whopping 98% said it was more important than ever. When it comes to how you’re practicing wellness, though, the answers were all over the board. Many of you pointed to journaling, practicing breathwork, and daily workout routines (cycling and yoga topped the list) as being the activities that help you keep your chill throughout the week.
I’m also happy to report that over 50% said you tend to feel more blessed than stressed on a daily basis—which is more than likely a big improvement. Let’s be honest, a year ago I would’ve bet a billion dollars that 99.9% of us knew no other feeling than anxiety—am I right? But even with the stress in our lives dwindling, many of you are still experiencing burnout at the end of a long work week (guilty!). But instead of succumbing to a bottle of wine for relief (please, that was so 2020), you’re unwinding by going to your favorite workout classes—with hot yoga, barre, and Pilates as your faves.
Let’s be honest, we should credit the business owners in this space for helping us reignite our spark when it comes to our wellness routines, right? Thanks to them, we’ve been inspired to prioritize the activities that help us feel our best. In turn, we thought it’d be interesting to learn what wellness means to them—and how that definition has changed over the past eighteen months.
Here’s what they had to say.
“Wellness is living in balance—mind, body, spirit. Highs and lows. It all ebbs and flows and we can navigate it a bit better when we take time to move, breath and remember who we are, and how we are connected to this big, beautiful world.” - Jess Pierno, Founder, Owner, and Chief Inspiration Officer of Yoga Heights
“Wellness is a true balancing of the mental, physical, and spiritual. It has definitely evolved over the years for me—from something that I just thought was about exercising and eating a healthy diet—to also incorporating balancing and healing internally and spiritually.” - Stefanie Patterson, Owner, Indianapolis Salt Cave and Halotherapy Center
“My sense of wellness has evolved from staying healthy and motivated, mind/body/spirit... to being more gentle with myself, less demanding. Accepting my limitations, taking time for resting, and gaining real clarity about what's important. I care less about what people think of me—difficult as a performer and as a business owner with so many demands on me—and more about getting quiet and tapping into the divine source inside of me that helps me discern my next move. In this way, I know my motives are as pure as possible and I'm not getting distracted—not that I don't make mistakes! Those are necessary, that's how we learn!” - Johanna Krynytzky, Owner, Hip Expressions Belly Dance Studio
“My studio name reminds us that we are constantly evolving. The past 18 months have certainly shown us that! Wellness to me means doing your best on any given day to make sure that you are taking care of yourself as best you can. It leads to resilience. Diet, exercise, sleep, a sense of community, and some form of faith. It all matters. Setbacks happen all the time, and every day is a chance to start again. We strive to be 'cheerleaders' for our clients when we sense that things are coming out of balance in their lives. So many have been with us for 18 years and are friends—they are our community and we all watch out for each other.” - Mo Wolfe, Owner and Founder, Evolution Pilates
I think we can all agree that there isn’t one true definition of wellness anymore. To some of us, it means getting that hot yoga sesh in daily, and to others, it means carving out time to treat ourselves to a massage or manicure. As long as you’re actively pursuing wellness—whatever that means to you—you're on the right track.
Our MO has always been about connecting the world to wellness—a term that's seen a lot of change lately. Whether you’re fully embracing the in-person experience or still delighted by the convenience of practicing at-home wellness, the Mindbody app makes it easy for you to book experiences that help you feel like YOU again.