By Anne Jones
My idea of exercise consists of walking a mile to and from work and up my 6th floor walk-up apartment. I haven’t seen a gym in nearly two years. So when the fitness editor of BeautyNewsNYC asked me to take a hip hop class, I thought that it would be a fun way for me to add some form of cardiovascular activity into my life. Plus, how hard could it possibly be?
I went in to this class thinking that I would be the next Laker Girl, after all, I have taken a dance class or two in my lifetime and know a plie from a releve. I was envisioning busting out some pretty sweet moves halfway through the first Missy Elliot remix. I couldn’t have been more wrong – and it appears that narcissism had no place in my dance career.
I arrived at Soho Dance and was greeted by the absolutely lovely owner, Lori, who started dancing as a form of therapy after losing her only brother in 9-11. She ultimately fell in love with dance and it led to opening her studio which focuses heavily on tango, salsa and even, belly dancing. All of the instructors are equally as warm and kind as Lori, and I later learned that they are patient as well.
The Soho Dance Studio where I learned my moves!
At the beginning of my first class, a quick show of hands reveal that I’m one of the few that has never taken hip-hop. I scan the room and see that my squeaky clean white sneakers and coordinating fitness outfit suddenly seem tres uncool next to everyone else who appear so utterly hip. This was only a foreshadowing of my dance abilities. I was suddenly having visions of Julia Styles in Save the Last Dance, sans a partner to transform my getup in the back of the sedan. I could have greatly benefited from that badass Erykah Badu head wrap at this point.
We started out with a healthy dose of core exercises and a dance warm-up. From there, it was on to the choreographed routine and that’s where things began to get dicey. It was apparent that a bitchin’ outfit or sassy head scarf would not make me a hip hop dancer. On the flip side, I did leave with that great, I-just-had-an-awesome-workout feeling (nice to have without setting foot in a gym) and despite minor embarrassment and a slight blow to the ego, I had a blast.
Over the next month I steadily improved in my hip hop skills (cue heartfelt music) thanks to a combination of a truly talented instructor and the fulfillment that the class brought to me. If anything, it showed me a new form of exercise that I really enjoy doing…and one that actually works! For people who shiver at the thought of Stairmasters and elliptical machines, this is where it’s at. My abs hurt for 48-hours after each class and I’m pretty sure that I’ve improved my dance skills. There’s a good chance I’ll be expanding my horizons, as well. Salsa is on my list, as well as Zumba (Soho Dance is one of the few in the city to offer this craze). Lori even tried to persuade me into taking the break dancing class that follows the hip-hop…because you know, I’m street like that. These days, if I’m not working out my new moves in that class, there’s a good chance I’ll be all up in the club.
Soho Dance Studio is located on 598 Broadway. Check out the website for class schedules: www.sohodancestudio.com