I love trying new things. It’s one of my favorite qualities about myself (am I allowed to say that?) From a young age, I would eat anything put in front of me at least once. But I wasn’t always willing to put myself in situations that I knew would cause discomfort.
There aren’t many things that terrify me more than the awkwardness that ensues when I attempt to dance. To say I have “two left feet” is an understatement. Actual dancing skills aside (which I assure you are dismal) I am just completely, 100% uncomfortable and embarrassed when I dance. I feel insecure and self-conscious. I don’t “dance like nobody’s watching” because I am sure that everyone is watching and everyone is thinking, “this is just like a car crash that I can’t turn my eyes away from.”
Step Classes, Zumba, Kickboxing – these are all fitness classes that have pushed me out of my comfort zone and left me feeling defeated and self-conscious because they rely on things that are way too closely related to choreography and dancing.
Suddenly, tons of friends were attending classes at “Broadway Bodies” to learn the dance to Justin Bieber’s “Sorry.” It looked like a ton of fun – but nothing I would ever be confident enough to attempt.
While doing research for my Valentine’s Day Fitness blog post, I stopped by the Broadway Bodies website where I immediately saw they were offering a class to learn the choreography to Spring Awakening’s “Mama Who Bore Me” in a class titled, “Broadway Cardio.”
Now, I’ve expressed my love for Broadway on the blog before but I don’t know that you understand the extent of it. For 5 or 6 years it was my passion, obsession, social life. And Spring Awakening was my favorite.
Somehow, that all came rushing back and I was clicking “send” on an email asking if I could take the class and write about it on Peanut Butter Is My Boyfriend. They said yes, and then I had to face the fact that I had indeed just signed up for a dance class.
Not a class at a gym with some steps resembling dancing. A full-on Broadway choreography dance class.
I was panicking. But I was also weirdly excited. I recruited two friends who always loved Spring Awakening and on a Tuesday night I checked my dignity at the door and entered Broadway Bodies.
Our class was held at Pearl Studios – where each and every day, real Broadway stars show up for auditions and rehearsals. This was not your typical gym class, which was very obvious when we walked down the hallway and saw people who were clearly real-life, serious dancers.
We signed in, and entered the studio. In total, there were about 20 of us, which was a bit of a squeeze.
To start, Broadway Cardio classes do about a half hour of some easier, cardio-centric routines to Broadway classics. I actually worked up a sweat and my heart was pumping – but the most shocking thing of all was that somewhere between a Hamilton song and “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from Hairspray, I had realized there was a huge cheesy grin on my face. Despite the missteps and extreme concentration required to remain semi-on beat, I was truly dancing around the room as if I were alone in my apartment blasting some showtunes (a very common occurrence). Every time a new step was introduced I would send a panicked look across the room to Carolyn or Roseanna, we would crack up, and just keep moving our feet.
Our instructor, Natalie, was so sweet and put the whole room at ease.
After the cardio wrapped-up it was time to learn the dance to Mama Who Bore Me. After learning our “first 8 count” (I learned so much new lingo…) I was feelin’ pretty confident. But that didn’t last long. I found that whenever we were instructed to do something with both our arms and our legs, I was a lost cause. It was like asking an infant to rub their stomach and pat their head.
But again, I had fun.
Once we got through the whole song, the room split into two groups so we had a little more room to get our groove on. I sprinted to the side that Carolyn and Roseanna were on which the instructor good-naturedly pointed out and laughed at.
It was a total disaster but I rocked those stomps and angel wings as best as I could and soaked up the experience.
At the end of class we were dripping with sweat – though that was due more to a stuffy hot room than my intense dancing.
We spoke with Natalie who was SO awesome – it was no surprise to her that it was our first class, none of us were dancers, and she just kept commending us for trying, for smiling and for never quitting.
So while I know I was uncomfortably terrible at this class, it was so so nice not being terribly uncomfortable. Broadway Bodies welcomed us with open arms and gave us a unique, fun experience. While I doubt I’ll be returning for another class anytime soon, they do offer BYOB Birthday Parties which definitely intrigue me…
I never in a million years thought I would smile through a class like that – never once feeling frustrated or embarrassed. (Okay, I was a little embarrassed, but not in a sad/terrified way).
The program director of Broadway Bodies, Rebecca Bradford, was kind enough to answer some questions for me. I can’t thank them enough for this experience!
How did you get involved with Broadway Bodies?
I had just moved to New York and am an actress/singer/dancer who was working in the food industry (so typical haha). I was desperately looking for a way out of the restaurant when I stumbled upon a Playbill.com listing from Broadway Bodies and they were looking for new cardio instructors. It sounds right up my alley and I am so happy that it worked out. From there, I took on the position of program administrator and, in addition, teach Bieber Fever classes. I just love this company and how much happiness it brings to people.
What's your advice to fans of fitness who may be scared to venture into the world of dance?
Dance, in my opinion, is the best way of expressing yourself. I would say don't be afraid to try new things. We are ALWAYS thrilled to have newcomers at Broadway Bodies. We really try to create a shame-free environment to encourage people to take risks and try new things. We truly do not care if you nail the choreography or completely trip over your feet. Dance is all about having fun, letting go and living.
What's your favorite song to sweat to?
Ah, right now I am OBSESSED with "Hands to Myself" by Selena Gomez. I'm also one of Taylor Swift's biggest fan, so basically anything from the 1989 album.
Can you give me some history on the creation and mission of Broadway Bodies?
Around 9 years by two amazing men, entrepreneur Jeff Vilensky and choreographer and director, Stephen Brotebeck. It began with Broadway Cardio and grew into a pop culture phenomenon in New York. The idea began when Jeff was watching a Broadway show and wanted to do what the performers were doing on stage. He thought to himself that he wasn't a dancer, but there was still a way to do what they were doing on stage. Broadway Bodies is a shame-free, inclusive dance community that teaches original and custom choreography to the music of movies, musicals, and music videos. Our only goal is that our participants have fun and unleash their inner superstars.
Do you like peanut butter? What's your favorite way to enjoy it?
I love peanut butter. How can you not?? My favorite is to slice up a Honeycrisp apple and spread peanut butter on each slice, but like a super unhealthy amount of peanut butter.
*Based on a scale of 1-10
The Studio - 5
This isn’t your typical fitness studio – it was a room in a building which was incredibly stuffy and hot. Everyone just piled their bags up in the back of the room. That being said – it’s a legit Broadway studio – as we were leaving we apparently passed the winner of last season’s So You Think You Can Dance. I joked that I just danced in the same building as Idina Menzel but…actually…that’s where she goes for auditions and rehearsals just like everyone else.
Class Size - Small
Though the class had no more than 20 people, it was a tight squeeze which made any arm motions a little difficult.
Sweat-Scale - 5
I was pleasantly surprised that the first portion of class had my heart rate going. But, overall, it isn’t a very physically demanding class. However, my sweat scale was about an 8 just because the room was so hot.
Fun-Factor - 8
This is where Broadway Bodies shines – this is a unique, fun experience that makes for a great story and some laughs. Whether you’re a great dancer or an awful one, this class is no doubt fun.
Amenities - 4
Since our class wasn’t at the Broadway Bodies Dance Studio – I can’t speak for their amenities. But be sure to do some research about where your class or workshop will be held – I wouldn’t recommend going to a class offered at Pearl Studios before work because there really isn’t anywhere to shower/change/etc.
Cost - $
(<$20 = $, $20-$30 = $$ and $30+ = $$$)