Hip & Healthy: Going to Yoga Studio to… Dance


Joining a membership-only yoga studio seems like a big commitment, especially for only an occasional yogi, but certain studios offer much more than yoga --  like at YogaWorks SoHo, where I've now taken three classes, and only one of which involved shavashanah.

Getting My Groove On
Most recently, I tried the newest Yoga Works class DanceWorks. I expected the class to be similar to a barre workout with some yoga influence, but true to the name, it was actually a dance class combining several forms of dance and movement.

The workout started with a dance warm-up, including isolations and hip circles, which typically were followed by sun salutations to create a foundation of yoga alignment and breathing for the workout that follows. While my class was only a 20-minute preview of the hour-long class, as we approached the final sequences, I was starting to feel warm and my heart rate building.

The main workout was similar to the dance classes I took as a teenager: We learned a series of movements, practiced them across the room, and eventually put them together to form a short routine. Our class drew from African, hip-hop and jazz dance forms, and emphasized free movement of the body without too much concentration on technique or perfection.

The absence of mirrors in the room made it easy to forget about flawless form and to concentrate on how the dance felt.  The instructor Keisha Parrish, who is trained in both dance and yoga, explained that the class is about moving the body in a way that feels good. She said wanted to create a class that would be accessible to both someone how had never danced before and to a former dancer who wants to get back in touch with the art form — and everyone in between. 

I found the class moved at a pace that allowed me to get the steps and to also enjoy the workout, and that I didn’t have to worry about knowing dance vernacular or complicated sequences. That makes it a great class for anyone that is looking for an informal dance workout emphasizing free movement in a non-judgmental environment. 

The Studio
The YogaWorks studio in SoHo is a serene space with plenty of amenities, including complimentary tea, saunas and -- get this -- computer access.  It has a packed schedule of classes that extends far beyond yoga: strength, dance, interval workouts, Pilates and all different forms of yoga are offered. 

In past visits, I have taken a traditional yoga class and also an interval strength class called SculptWorks. This class is a high-energy, full-body toning workout that incorporates resistance bands, gliding discs, yoga, Pilates and strength exercises. The YogaWorks classes I have taken have ranked medium to moderately hard in intensity, and all have been taught by knowledgeable trained instructors. It’s great that more and more yoga studios are offering clients the opportunity to get their daily flow on and create a well-rounded workout regiment through the variety of non-yoga classes all in one studio. 

If you’re not ready to commit to a membership, but you’re interested in trying out YogaWorks, check out their three pay-per-class studios in the city. Currently, DanceWorks is only offered on Thursdays at 2:15 p.m. at the membership-based SoHo location, but the class plans to expand soon. 

Melissa is a NYC resident and workout junkie. She keeps motivated to stay fit and active by trying out new workout classes, signing up for races, and keeping an eye out for a fun fitness challenge. She hopes to complete the New York City Marathon for the second time in 2011. Read more about her healthy adventures in New York City at her blog fitnessnyc.wordpress.com.

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