Ladies, prepare to chip.
Dance aerobics has become the new workout craze helping non-traditional gym-goers increase their sweat levels to the pulsing music.
Aruba and Grenada descendant Royelle McKenzie brings island flare to the craze with her high energy soca fused playlists and use of carnival moves set to make any feter forget they are working out in her Boulay 360 dance fitness classes.
“Dancing to soca music is a total body workout because you’re working out everything as well as your core - fusing the dance steps of the Caribbean with basic aerobics steps. It’s a journey through carnival, that freedom you have — it’s a no judgment zone. One of my sayings is ‘are you feeling ambitious today’ because when you’re doing carnival it is fun and festive,” she said.
McKenzie utilizes her wealth of knowledge as a certified group fitness instructor and physical therapist of 11 years to ensure that your carnival aerobic experience is both fun and beneficial. Persons with various fitness levels are invited into the party where McKenzie takes special care to ensure each member in her band is getting the workout appropriate for their level of fitness. Keeping the class size relatively small, she is able to connect with each person with specific check-ins while keeping the entire class motivated to just keep marching.
“You see the camraderie between you and your fellow masqueraders. You’re a team together,” she said.
Combining whining, juking and marching into the workout session, McKenzie manages to incorporate these popular dance moves to include high knees, jumping jacks and more for a total body and core workout. The sweat will drip as you sing along to the music and pass high-fives to those closest to you throughout the session.
“You move and you move and the music is good so you don’t really feel like you’re working out but you are really working out because you are soaking wet. I’ve done Zumba and it’s a combination of hip-hop, R&B, salsa but in terms of comparison this is more intense. It’s just nonstop pace,” said Kizziah Prime, a regular participant.
The 55-minute sessions start off with a warm-up to get the body ready to increase intensity with each song change. McKenzie remains at the front, commanding her masqueraders with words of encouragement, careful instruction and correction. Her careful ear always listening to the music, she increases the pace by adding in the shoulders or sway of the arms as it makes sense to the beat of whatever song is playing.
Unlike other dance aerobics classses, McKenzie routinely tells her team to check out their reflection in the mirror. Her aim is to not only provide a great workout to help the body but to ensure the women in attendance leave feeling good, both mentally and spiritually.
“She was able to correct me while going through the routine without making me feel self-conscious,” said Chaquana Carr, a first-time participant.
For those unfamiliar with soca or carnival, McKenzie encourages women willing to maintain an open mind who love music of all genres to come out and experience it for themselves. She also calls on women who might feel they lack rhythm to give themselves a chance to feel a sense of freedom and pride in their body and themselves.
“All women know how to whine. We all do it different and that’s ok. I tell them to have fun with it,” McKenzie said.
Boulay 360 hosts classes throughout the week in various locations throughout Brooklyn. Visit their website for more information on schedules and times. boula