Think you need a spray tan and sequins to dance like the stars? In Louis Van Amstel’s LaBlast class, you don’t even need a partner. The former Dancing With the Stars pro and three-time world ballroom dance champion, developed LaBlast as a partnerless dance fitness class. Certified instructors teach it around the country, and on Dec. 7, Van Amstel made a special appearance in Wynnewood to teach at MovementRx studio. “What I like about boutique fitness studios is that they’re much more intimate,” says Van Amstel of the program’s structure. “People are willing to go deeper into the movements.”
Saturday’s class was the first LaBlast experience for many participants, though any apprehension disappeared as they shimmied their way through the rumba and quickstep routines. Throughout the hour-long session, Van Amstel targeted cardiovascular fitness by alternating controlled dances with fast and powerful movements. The high-energy steps worked leg and core muscles, and a special section incorporated barbells to tone the upper body. By the end of the hour, every dancer was sweaty and smiling.
Fitness is just one benefit of LaBlast. Participants also learn usable dance skills. “Every step we do in class is actually based in a dance step,” says Gail Lazarus, who teaches LaBlast at Movement RX.
Lazarus and Van Amstel both acknowledge that learning to dance can be intimidating. But even rhythmically challenged people needn’t fear: LaBlast instructors teach trickier combinations by instructing the class to clap out the beat. Then they slowly add one movement at a time.
According to Van Amstel, most traditional ballroom dance studios teach music theory and technique to beginners. But LaBlast encourages students to dance freely and with enthusiasm. “The more you explain, the more you can screw up,” Van Amstel says. “I’m a believer that the less you think, the more you can do.”