When I pass by the group fitness studio on my way to spin class at West Loop Athletic Club, there’s often a Zumba class going on. Every time I see a group Zumba-ing away, a few things jump out at me:
- The class is always full of people who are all ages and all shapes and sizes.
- Everyone looks like they’re having a blast while they’re working hard.
- There’s a feel-good energy that radiates from the room, which instantly boosts my mood.
I’ve attended one or two Zumba classes, but I’m not much of a dancer. Even so, every time I walk by that studio and hear good tunes pumping, see people smiling and dancing, and feel those good vibes radiating, I have to say I wish I were part of the fun. It seems like such a fun workout that I’d like to get into.
So when I heard that Chicago Athletic Club Zumba and Cardio Jam instructor Stephanie Fravel had choreographed a Thriller dance to teach her class for Halloween last month, I had to know more!
First, check out the video she filmed of the dance. Then, read on about what motivated her to teach her students this awesome dance and get it on film.
How'd you pick the song?
Stephanie: One of the members requested Thriller last year, and since I knew that attempting such a technical dance in a "lead-and-follow" format would be near impossible, I found a mash-up that worked well. With a song like this, repetition of movement is key; and with a mash-up of two songs, you get two choruses that have repeating choreography.
I also am not a fan of fall weather, and don't particularly get excited about Halloween. So it was inspiring to see everyone giggle and dance with so much conviction.
Because a stop-and-start style of teaching is not present in Zumba or Cardio Jam (like you would find in a traditional dance class), I brought this song in the 2nd week of October. Many people take class with me on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday, so there were a lot of chances to get the moves down.
Why did you decide you wanted to film the dance?
Stephanie: I decided to film it actually when we were dancing to another song, and the class's attention to detail moved me as an instructor and as an observer. There is some real talent and urgency behind the people in this class, and that moment informed me that it was time to share.
A lot of times Zumba or any other dance-inspired fitness class gets a bad rap as a "grandma" class, or conjures up thoughts of your mom's old 1988 Kathy Smith Ultimate Video Workout leotard. So it was important for me to showcase that these moves are effective, fun, and up-to-date.
What do you think the hardest part of the dance is?
Stephanie: I think the hardest part of the dance is the signature "thriller move" with arms and walking, just because the counting is different than a casual observer might think. But otherwise, non-dancers picked up the choreography quickly!
Ready to learn some killer dance movers? Check out your club’s schedule to find a Zumba and Cardio Jam class.
Betsy Mikel is a freelance copywriter whose passion is telling the stories of entrepreneurs, brands and businesses that challenge the status quo. When she’s not biking or running all over every city she visits to find its best taqueria, you can find Betsy on Twitter at @betsym | betsymikel.com