the exercist

I Tried the ‘Spring Break’ Dance-Party Workout

Spring Diet Week

At 305 Fitness, everyone is a woo! girl. You woo! for jumping jacks. You woo! for hip swivels. You woo! for squat pulses. And, obviously, you woo! for Beyoncé.

It’s easy to dislike a woo! girl. But sometimes you just have to suck it up. Reluctantly, I succumbed (somewhat) to the woo! craze — and tried 305 Fitness, the easiest way to work out without really trying.  

As Amy Adams said in American Hustle, the key to building a successful con is building it from the feet up. And at 305 Fitness, the key to forgetting you are working out is the ambiance. Conning yourself into not believing you are working out is easier when there is a live DJ with a spin table in the corner, dim lighting with dance lights, and dance-inspired, jumpy moves that are strenuous enough to build up a sweat, but not so hard that you feel like you have to sit out the party. Non-twerkers have a workout home here.

At a recent 90-minute event billed as a “Spring Break” at the Dream Downtown, on what would have been a leisurely Sunday afternoon, a group of 60 women (there were no men, except for one instructor) waited nervously for class to start. “Am I going to die?” one woman asked her friends. “I mean — just keep bouncing,” her friend advised. Then the DJ turned the music up, and Sadie Kurzban, the curly-haired sprite/founder of 305, who started the class as a student at Brown University, bounded into the room. She has the tireless, boundless energy of a never-ending pogo stick and P!nk’s abs. “All right!!!!!” she shouted, introducing herself, along with the other instructors.

In a formula identical for each class, the instructors directed the group into a cardio-heavy sequence of kicks, jumps, and more “get-low” dance moves for a nonstop 30 minutes. Unlike other heavy-dance cardio classes, there’s no choreography to memorize. The hardest choreography move is a surfbort move.

Throughout the class, the instructors take on a variety of personas. First, they’re the cheerleader, locking eyes with you, encouraging you to jump higher, jump harder, and squat lower and — woo! — hip-swivel deeper. Then they’re the flirt, coquettish, pawing the ground and growling at your feet, doing the “Lover Boy” from Dirty Dancing. And they occasionally get raunchy, encouraging you to back that thing up (but not so much that you back into the person behind you — classes are crowded). When the water break comes at 32 minutes, everyone’s shirt is damp with sweat and a few members of the class ditch their shirts and start working out in sports bras.

There’s a short interlude for an arms segment without weights, then squats, and, finally, a last intense cardio sequence during which girls around me start making a “No, I can’t jump anymore” kind of face. And then it’s all over, shirts drenched with sweat, having jumped and danced through every Top 40 hit. The class promises results after three classes, and after four, my calves were leaner and more toned, though the workout could include some more weight-training.

For now, Fitness 305 classes are held in various studio space across the city, but will have their own space in the fall. You can learn more here.

I Tried the ‘Spring Break’ Dance-Party Workout