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Kick up your heels

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Class act: from left, Kassie Bather, Vanessa Lake-Waldron, instructor Geisha Chin, Khadijah Kipps Shakir and Sharmaine Landy practise their moves at Stiletto Camp (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

If you’re looking for a new way to get fit, you might want to dig out your high heels. Geisha Chin’s classes show how to use stilettos to “feel the burn”.

“Dancing in heels is not as difficult as people think,” she said. “We spend a lot of time breaking down the moves and learning how to balance your weight so when you put stilettos on you don’t feel shaky or wobbly.”

Boredom made Vanessa Lake-Waldron sign up this month.

“I am plus-sized and need to work out,” she said. “But I get really bored at the gym. I feel bored almost as soon as I step on the treadmill.”

She was fascinated when she heard what Bodhi Fitness Studio was offering — although more than a little nervous about the stiletto part.

“I’ve never been a fan of them,” she said. “I broke my knee a few years ago in a bike accident. I’ve always been a little fearful of falling on my knee.”

She signed up anyway.

“As soon as the music started and we started to move, I felt comfortable,” she said.

So far, her favourite move is the “yoncé”.

“You just slowly go down and run your hands down your legs, then you turn to the side, then you swoop up your thigh and stand up at the same time,” she said. “It is pretty sexy.”

She wore stilettos as she celebrated her birthday last week — all the way through dinner, karaoke and then on to her evening job. They didn’t hurt a bit.

The class teaches proper balance when dancing in stilettos, and how to head off aches and pains. Putting padding in your instep is one of Ms Chin’s tricks.

Khadijah Kipps Shakir, 23, dances regularly and so did not anticipate how hard the lessons would be.

“We were a bit of a mess with the first class,” she said. “In the second class we started pulling it together and in the last two classes we were mini Beyoncés.

“It was pretty cool. The most difficult move for me was a hair whip to the back. You pivot to the front, to the back, and have to lean all the way over. It was disastrous, initially.

“I fell. I had to go home and practise because I thought, ‘I can’t be falling down like this’.”

Eventually, she changed her shoes. “I found anything with a platform doesn’t work very well,” she said. “Once I switched to black strappy stilettos everything went much better.”

For the last class, women come with their hair done, in make-up and in their best dress.

That was the best part,” Ms Shakir said. “It was so much fun.

“I love to support Geisha with all of her classes because they aim to empower women.

“People are so quick to shame women for being sexy even though every image is of a women in a sexy pose.

“It is OK to be the Beyoncé sometimes. That is what Geisha encourages.”

The class is also fun if you happen to have a shoe fetish, like the instructor.

“I have a closet just for shoes,” Ms Chin said. “With me it’s either sneakers or heels; there’s no in-between. If I could wear my heels all day, every day and go to the gym in them, I would.

“When I have heels on, I feel so much sexier than I do in my running shoes.”

Her favourite stilettos are a seven-inch black LAMB pair.

“They were my mother’s,” she said. “I love them, but I almost never wear them. I’m too afraid I’ll damage them.” Ms Chin is originally from Toronto. She’s danced most of her life and was a finalist on So You Think You Can Dance Canada in 2011. She married Bermudian Matthew Mills in June and opened Bodhi in the Berkeley Cultural Centre this month.

She is offering the classes to help “everyday women who have not danced before, walk in their heels and gain confidence”.

The classes are open to women of all ages and dance experience levels.

Stiletto Camp starts this Thursday at 6.30pm and runs every Thursday until October 27. The class is $75. E-mail geisharene.fitness@gmail.com, call 595-1191 or see her website, www.geisharene.com

Avoiding back pain

Stilettos get a bad rap, believes fitness instructor Geisha Chin.

They are often blamed for aching feet and back pain, but she has been dancing since she was 16 and never had any issues.

“Whether stilettos cause back problems is a controversial issue,” she said.

“I’ve certainly never seen any article proving it.

“Sometimes other things are to blame, such as not sitting properly at work.

“But wearing any kind of high heel can cause some lower back pain because it throws the back into a different position.”

She said the trick to avoiding such pain was to stretch thoroughly after wearing them

“Women shouldn’t come home, throw their shoes into a corner and then go to bed,” she said. “You really need to stretch your feet, your legs and your hamstrings.

“It’s really important to get those muscles warmed up and loosened.”

Ready for the dancefloor: from left, Vanessa Lake-Waldron, instructor Geisha Chin and Khadijah Kipps Shakir strutt their stuff at Stiletto Camp (Photograph by Akil Simmons)