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Feel-good activity ‘turns a light on inside’

Valentina Holland has been offering a variation of Jazzercise, called Dance Mixx, in Bermuda for five years. She’ll hold an open house next Monday in honour of that anniversary and she’s offering $5 classes until June 5 (Photo supplied)

Valentina Holland isn’t ashamed to call herself a dance fitness junkie.

She got hooked on Jazzercise classes in the US more than 20 years ago while trying to get into shape after years of smoking.

She moved to the Island and found there were only a few people offering classes so she turned to DVDs. They weren’t the same.

The solution? She got trained and taught the classes herself.

The 48-year-old has been offering a variation of Jazzercise, called Dance Mixx, for five years.

How did you first get interested in Jazzercise?

I was in my mid-20s and living in California at the time. I was going to graduate school and wanted to quit smoking and knew that anytime you make a lifestyle change like that you have to be prepared. I felt like I needed to start exercising regularly to be successful at quitting, so I looked in the paper and found there was a Jazzercise class happening at the local recreation centre. I took the class and the next morning woke up feeling I was renewed and excited. I had found something that was fun and went to work the next day and told my boss all about it. I said ‘I feel like I have a new lease on life today’ and she said ‘Who is he?’ I was almost embarrassed to say it wasn’t a guy it was a dance class.

When did you decide to start teaching?

It was around five-and-a-half years ago. [I’d been here] for maybe six months and doing the DVDs in my living room and it was boring. There weren’t many other classes being offered and I wanted to be able to dance and socialise, so I said ‘I’m going to have to start one’.

How would you describe your classes?

The moves are more current and the music is as well. Right now my playlist has everything from Beyonce to Maroon Five, Jessie J and Pitbull on it. We also play music from Sean Paul and Sean Kingston, it just depends on what’s hot. With Dance Mixx it’s a dance-based fitness class and the last 20 minutes are resistance training using weights and resistance bands, which I provide. All people have to bring is a mat and water. Then to end the routine off we stretch. So in one hour we get cardio, strength training and stretching and it’s just a workout from head to toe. You will work all your muscles. There is also a variety of dance moves in the class. We have hip hop, modern, some yoga movements and Pilates. This week we are doing a jive step and really anyone can do it. It’s for beginners.

What’s the draw?

I think it’s a feel-good activity and most of my ladies that have come to my class enjoy it. You leave out of there and have been dancing and listening to music and you’re feeling good. It turns a light on inside. It’s also a fun workout. It’s an alternative to the gym, if people are getting bored with their workout. Another thing that was concerning me with the Island is the high rate of obesity and diabetes, so I thought if I can help someone get active and do something for fun for them, that means a lot to me. I had one woman who came to my class and her doctor said she was pre-diabetic. After a few weeks the doctor told her to keep doing what she was doing because she was no longer in a dangerous range for the disease.

These types of stories make it worthwhile for me.

What kind of ways has it benefited you personally?

For one thing my mood; it’s a natural antidepressant. I also saw changes in my body where my clothes were fitting looser. I became more muscular and got more lean.

With my students as well I notice they start to stand taller. Their shoulders are back and their posture is better. They also have improved confidence [which comes] when you are doing something good for you and your body and your fitness.

Ms Holland will host an open house at St Andrew’s Church Hall in Hamilton, in honour of her fifth anniversary. She’s also offering a range of promotions including $5 classes from now until June 5. Classes are offered on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays at 6pm. For more information visit Facebook Page: Bermuda Jazzercise with Valentina or e-mail bermudajazz1@gmail.com or call 331-7001.