This Black-Owned Fitness Company Made Me Stop Hating Dance Fitness
Dance fitness has never been my thing. When I gave Zumba a try in the past, I was always a step behind and couldn’t tell my left from right once the music began. I’m shy, so the idea of learning dance moves in a room full of people is usually a turn-off. That was until I attended a few classes at Banana Skirt Productions, a black-owned dance fitness company founded by Akinah Rahmaan. Their choreographers teach the dance routines from our favorite music videos step-by-step. If your favorite track hasn’t gotten the video treatment, their instructors create an original routine and teach it during an hour-long class. Their schedule has included classes that features choreography to songs like “Broccoli” ( D.R.A.M. Featuring Lil Yachty), “Shinin’” (Beyonce & Jay Z) and “Bad and Boujee” (Migos featuring Lil’ Uzi Vert). They also have pop-dance classes that are Vinyasa yoga-based and feature soundtracks from acts like Bruno Mars and Britney Spears.
After attending a few classes my whole viewpoint on dance fitness has changed. Besides having dance classes with full blown eight-counts, Banana Skirt offers a Ratchet ZOOBA fitness class, which is an easy watch-and-follow jam session that combines cardio and twerking to create a calorie-burning sweat set. The studio is transformed into a club, with disco-strobe lights and music turned up to the max. If you don’t feel like hitting the club, Ratchet ZOOBA will have you lit and fit on a Friday night.
I didn’t know what to expect from this class when I first walked in. I thought I would stick out like a sore thumb because I’m not the best two-stepper. While dancing in front of the mirror I was forced to look at myself, which I was super uncomfortable with, but it helped to ease that feeling of awkwardness. It also helped quiet my inner voice of doubt. I kept telling myself I would look stupid, which led to me feeling out of place once the beat dropped. After the first 15 minutes of the class passed, I was so into it that nothing else mattered. I surprised myself when I noticed I was effortlessly doing dance moves I never thought I could do. We went hard under the strobe lights, mixing high knees, crunches, punches and toning with twerking.
The music was great for getting everyone in the zone, with tracks like Uncle Luke’s “Doo Doo Brown,” UNK’s “Walk It Out,” Juvenile’s “Back That A** Up,” “JuJu On That Beat,” Ludacris’ “What’s Your Fantasy?” and much more. Being surrounded by other women who were carefree and more focused on having a good time than how they looked helped me feel less bashful. Plus, the instructor Nikki Cherry, was overflowing with a contagious energy and her vivacious attitude encouraged me to come out of my shell. I had worked my abs, glutes and arms, ending my week with a gym-free, dance-infused cardio workout. My FitBit counted 452 calories burned at the end. I was pleased.