Talking DanceBody with Sam Ostwald, Assistant Training Director + Marketing Coordinator
My obsession with dance cardio and dance fitness classes is definitely a new one. It all started with me going to a few dance classes (and being very intimidated) while I was working full-time in NYC last year. And let me just say–I wish I would have started at DanceBody because some of the other classes I did before were not so great and left me with a bad taste in my mouth (read: made me avoid other dance classes). Dance has never been my thing, and I always thought I was super uncoordinated– but even then, the idea of dance cardio has always been appealing to me since I’ve never found one type of cardio that I actually love. (I mean–I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to love running, but it’s just something I’ve never been that into. I enjoy the occasional jog, and I’ll sprint at a bootcamp class, but that’s about it for me.)
Thankfully, while I was in New York, I found DanceBody, and it totally changed the way I see dance fitness. The first class I did at DanceBody was with the Well+Good team and I’ll never forget how everyone walked in a bit intimidated and unsure of what they were getting themselves into, and once the class was over, the energy totally changed. Everyone was dripping with sweat, in such a great mood, and obsessed with DanceBody (and the founder, Katia’s infectious energy!).
Now that I’m not in NYC full-time, I stream the classes at home with DanceBody@Home (they have on-demand classes and Live classes) and I’ve been so impressed with the streaming platform and the class variety. Honestly, as much as I love and prefer being in the studio IRL (which is gorgeous, BTW with locations in NoMad and Tribeca) it’s great to be able to really dive into the classes and learn with the videos at home. As someone who is definitely new to dance, I feel like I can focus on learning without being too self-conscious (not that I feel that way in the studio—the vibe is super welcoming and inclusive). One of the other reasons I love this workout is because it’s seriously fun ( the playlists are always solid) and it’s one of the only things that really makes me get out of my head. One of DanceBody’s sayings is “Brain Off, Body On” and it’s so true. Not only is it a killer workout (seriously you will work your entire body + muscles you didn’t know you had) but it’s also a mental challenge. It’s so much fun to nail even one dance combo that I couldn’t do before, and I love the challenge of learning new moves and dances.
When I first started DanceBody I had LOTS of questions (and I still do, TBH), so I sat down with Sam Ostwald, Assistant Training Director + Marketing Coordinator at DanceBody for some helpful tips to know before your first DanceBody class in NYC or at home (P.s. head over to Dancebody.com for a free 3-day streaming trial if you want to try!). And if you’re in NYC, just go! I promise you won’t regret it. :)
Q+A with Sam Ostwald, Trainer at DanceBody
Q. What makes DanceBody different than other dance workouts?
For us, the most important thing is how you feel, so our main goal is that everyone leaves feeling better than when they walked in. That's why we have so many different variety of classes, so no matter what level you come in at you don't feel judged and you feel like you can just tap in and try it and see what happens. Nobody's watching you or cares what you're doing. As long as you feel better than when you leave then we're happy.
And we're all about community and inclusivity. There's even like 900 streamers on our private Facebook community that talk about Dancebody@Home, their favorite classes, the workouts they did today, and that's just an example of the community aspect of DanceBody, even for clients that stream at home. And I think that's what makes us so different is we really have a strong community feel, and everyone's really welcoming and they’re talking with each other before and after class. There's no like cliques–nobody has a spot in the studio. It's just come one, come all, have fun, feel good.
Q. What are your tips for people who are new to DanceBody or are a bit intimidated by dance classes?
I always tell people that if this is your first time, dance might be out of your comfort zone, but that's a good thing. It's not like a spin class or a yoga class where you have a baseline for the movement. Like, you know when you go to a spinning class, you're going to be on a bike. You have that sense of comfort. So it might be out of your comfort zone, but the good thing is you'll be so focused on what the instructor is doing that the outside world– like what you're having for dinner tonight, who's not texting you back, that project at work– it kind of all just melts away because you're so focused on what you're supposed to be doing. So it's almost a good thing if you don't know what's about to happen and you'll leave feeling accomplished, centered, and ready to take on whatever is next because you just accomplished something by coming to class and doing it.
One thing I always say if people seem a little hesitant is that I expect to be the only dancer in the room and I want everyone to just have a good time. I don't want anyone to be watching me like, "she's so great, but I couldn't do anything like what she was doing." I want people to get the sense of the movement so they can be able to do it. We're not there to impress anyone, we're there to make everyone else feel good. Every trainer feels the same way, we just want everyone to feel good.
Q. Dancing can be high-impact, especially when there’s a lot of jumping involved. What can I do to prevent injuries/shin-splints and what shoes do you recommend?
We do a lot of jumping, and a lot of high impact moves and we're always encouraging people to really roll through your feet, and feel the floor. Sometimes people think if they stay on their toes it will somehow help any pain they're having, but it will actually do the reverse. And it’s just building up knots in your calves and affecting your shins. So we're always encouraging people to roll through their feet, toe-ball-heel style whenever you jump.
For shoes, most of our trainers wear Asics. I personally am a fan of their Gel Nimbus model. They have a lot of support, but not so much support that you feel like you're wearing moon shoes. We also just tried Lane Eights, and they have that same feel, like supportive but still flexible enough. And if you're doing lateral movement or turning you're not getting stuck in the shoe.
Q. What are the first classes you recommend a DanceBody newbie try?
I would definitely start with a Follow Along class, that way you can get a sense of the style of the dance without having to worry about set choreography that you don't know. It's really fun, and easy to follow. It's totally just “brain off, body on, get it done”. Everything repeats a bunch. There's no set patterns, no set rhythms. You really can just dance along with the instructor and not feel like everyone knows what they're doing except for you. But I will say it's not any easier athletically, it's just as difficult for your stamina as the other classes.
I would also say try a Sculpt Class since there's very little dancing. It's all dance based toning, so if you're new to dance cardio that's a great one to try because it will only have one or two songs of dancing to get your blood flowing and you'll get right down to toning.
On Dancebody@Home we actually have Breakdown videos and I always tell people that if you're new and you really want to try a Signature Class, watch a breakdown video, learn one of the dances, and then when you try Signature, you'll at least have one under your belt and when it comes on you can really hit that one hard. So I would say, try try a Breakdown video first to get an example of the kind of choreography we do in our Signature Classes.
For more info on DanceBody, check out their website: https://dancebody.com/
And be sure to follow them on Insta to check out their classes + get to know the amazing team behind DanceBody!