Dance Your Way into Shape

By LAUREL BUSBY

Staff Writer

 

14-kate burke exercise 1Take hip-hop dancing and splash in some energetic jumping jacks and squats, and you have Plyojam, a dance class on steroids.

“It’s a great workout,” said Palisadian Carla Davidson, a professional dancer, who said an hour of Plyojam typically adds up to 6,000 steps on her step counter and can burn 800 calories. But the workout is just part of the appeal. “It’s so much fun. It’s like a dance party.”

For three years, Davidson has been attending classes both in Brentwood and Pacific Palisades. Fancy Feet (881 Alma Real) generally offers the classes two mornings a week, while Moore Dance Studio in Brentwood also has Plyojam classes eight times a week.

Kate Burke both teaches the classes at Fancy Feet and attends some classes in Brentwood. For her, both are a delight. “I don’t know what it is about Plyojam—the energy, the music, other women with the same common goal—but it makes you feel so empowered,” said Burke, who first began taking the classes three years ago when she and her husband, David, moved to the Palisades with their sons, Declan, 10, and Logan, 7, who both attend Corpus Christi School.

Since beginning the classes, Burke has lost forty pounds and become an enthusiastic proponent of the exercise program. Last year, she interviewed to become an instructor, which involved doing a routine in order to simulate a class for Plyojam’s founder and her teacher, Jason Layden. He was impressed, and she was hired.

Burke came into the classes with a dance background, since her mother taught ballet and she grew up dancing. However, a number of her students have not danced previously. She said some have felt a bit intimidated at first, but after a couple of classes, they begin to feel more comfortable with the routines and enjoy the atmosphere.

15-kate burke exercise 2“Everyone is so supportive of each other,” said Burke, who tries to inject fun and humor into the classes. She noted that some dance classes can be “very competitive with dancers feeling territorial about their space,” but Plyojam is not. Instead, it’s about getting a fun and challenging workout. “You just can’t take yourself that seriously.”

Teacher Layden developed Plyojam at the Jonathan Beach Club four years ago, because some of his students requested a more challenging workout than the traditional follow-the-teacher dance class. He began gradually implementing choreography that combined dancing to pop and hip-hop songs with plyometrics, also called jump training, which uses quick bursts of activity like jumping jacks.

“It was a huge hit there,” Layden said. “It incorporated dance moves that were easy, fun and made them feel sexy” with the more physically challenging jump training.

Most of his students were from Pacific Palisades, and Layden eventually moved the classes from the Jonathan Club to Moore Dance Studio in Brentwood, where he still teaches. Plyojam now has 22 classes throughout Los Angeles, mostly on the Westside, he said.

The plyojam.com website also has an online certification program for people like Burke, who want to take their love of Plyojam to a new level.

“I’m truly living my dream,” said Burke who was a recruiter for a defense contractor for 12 years before changing direction and leaving fulltime work to have more time with her family. “What person gets paid to exercise, be with friends, and lead an exercise class? It doesn’t get better than that.”

The next Fancy Feet session of Plyojam started on April 4 (Mon. 8 a.m. and Wed. 9:15 a.m.). Drop-in classes are $17, and package rates are available at plyojam.com. Contact: mkateburke@gmail.com.

 

Local residents led by Kate Burke (center) have a fun workout with Plyojam. Photo: Bart Bartholomew

 

An hour of Plyojam dancing can burn 800 calories. Photo: Bart Bartholomew

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