My mother often repeats the tale of my short-lived dancing career with only slightly unfettered glee. "You had such incredible stage presence, and the biggest smile on your face the entire time," she'll recall. "But everyone else on stage lifted their left arm, and you'd lift your right. Everyone would twirl one way, and you'd go the opposite, a second or two later."
For the record, I was about 6 years old at the time, and definitely more invested in the sequined costume I was wearing than the accurate timing my pliés and pirouettes. But this did portend a couple of things about my future: I would end up working in fashion rather than debuting in the New York City Ballet—and to this day, it seems as though I cannot follow choreography if my life depended on it.
That's not to say I lack hand-eye coordination altogether. I grew up playing soccer and lacrosse, and these days, I channel a different kind of energy and balance on the yoga mat. I'm constantly dancing for fun—the key difference being that I have the freedom to move to a beat of my own drum. But trying the odd kickboxing and Zumba classes have only reiterated the fact that if asked to follow a certain routine, I really struggle. It simply does not compute.
All this said, I kind of assumed the worst (of myself) when I was invited to check out LEKfit, a very buzzy workout class in Los Angeles that incorporates dance cardio with free weights and in some cases, a trampoline. I've actually been intrigued by LEKfit for months: Trainer Lauren Kleban—an alumna of Tracy Anderson and Ballet Bodies—hosts the class in a converted garage studio at her home, where Busy Phillips, Michelle Williams, and our own co-founder Hillary Kerr are all frequent attendees. For those not in the area, Kleban also offers streaming versions of her workouts, which are touted to be as fun as they are highly effective.
My curiosity ultimate won out over my self-consciousness, and on a recent Monday morning, I made my way to Kleban's home to try her Bounce class—the safest bet, I decided, since there would be relatively minimal choreography and the trampoline would keep me occupied. An hour later, I walked out into the cool L.A. smog drenched in sweat, thoroughly convinced that I had just found my new favorite workout—and that maybe I wasn't so hopeless at choreography after all.
My only instruction was to come to class with sneakers and a very supportive sports bra—the subtext being that I needed something to trampoline-proof my cleavage. So I arrived at the bright garage studio in a strappy new JoyLab number that felt as secure as it looked aesthetically pleasing in the surrounding mirrors. I was offered a brief crash course on trampoline etiquette: I wasn't to bounce too high, for example, as it would throw me off rhythm and make for a less efficient workout. Then Kleban—a lithe, pint-size blonde with the kind of lean muscle tone that seems ever-evasive to us mere mortals—breezed to the front of class, and I decided right then and there that I was now her fervent disciple. She cranked up the music, and we were off.
Even though I wasn't exactly in the best mood at 8 a.m. on a Monday, it was astonishing how quickly this changed as we began to bounce on the trampolines. As the high-octane dance music blared on, Kleban led us through beat-driven sequences of high knees, kicks, and sprints.
It's rare that I get through a cardio-oriented warmup without cursing myself for coming to class in the first place (I'm more about going all out at the end), but I managed to completely lose myself in the moment—to the point that there was simply no room for self-consciousness whatsoever. (And for the record, barring a couple of near misses, I never fell off the trampoline.)
After bouncing for the first section of class, we then cycled through different strengthening exercises with light dumbbells and ankle weights before finishing off with some core work. This was the part of class that left me absolutely dripping in sweat—and a can't-sit-down-without-wincing kind of sore the next day.
Then it was back to dancing, both with and without the trampolines—and after bouncing, I felt assaulted by the unforgiving gravity that held me on the hard floor. Nonetheless, Kleban's boundless energy was infectious, and I found myself mimicking her arm movements and booty-popping without a second thought. But I was genuinely surprised when I glanced in the mirror and didn't see a total spaz staring back at me. The choreography was minimal, sure, but I was doing it, okay?
I left the studio that morning with a buoyant mood and the distinct thought that bouncing, dancing, and forgetting some of my long-standing insecurities might just be the ultimate antidote to Monday. Who knows—maybe I'll even work my way up to Kleban's Choreo Fit class, which is even more dance-based than Bounce.
But in the meantime, my ankle weights and three-pound dumbbells will be arriving from Amazon shortly, and during those weeks that I can't make it to the studio, my studio apartment will have to do. (Purchasing my own trampoline is sadly out of the question, but it's also not a requirement for LEKfit's streaming workouts.)
The fact that I not only enjoyed a dance cardio class but actually feel compelled (and downright excited) to continue is a testament to the fact that this might be the unicorn of fitness classes: LEKFit is fun, high-energy (without being in-your-face or obnoxious), nonjudgmental, and a kick-ass workout. And it's accessible enough that we can do it from the comfort of our own living rooms.
And if I can follow along, anyone can.