8 dance-based workouts to try in Howard County

8 dance-based workouts to try in Howard County
Instructor Megan Cooperman leads the LaBlast Fitness dance class at the Columbia Athletic Club. (Nate Pesce / Baltimore Sun Media Group)
Sticking with an exercise routine can be difficult, especially if you’re not passionate about it in the first place.
To battle the fitness doldrums, many studios and gyms in Howard County have taken to the dance scene, adding fun, high-energy combinations to their menu of exercise class options. From jazzercise to balance exercises with a ballet barre, these area classes add rhythm to a workout.
LaBlast, a cardio-based ballroom dance class inspired by “Dancing with the Stars,” is one of the Columbia Association’s newest fitness classes. Created by Louis Van Amstel, one of the show’s professional partners and a world ballroom dance champion, LaBlast offers the opportunity to learn real ballroom moves in an easy-to-follow format. Ballroom dances taught include Lindy hop, jive, waltz, disco, hustle, paso doble and quickstep. “Participants increase their cardiovascular health while dancing to their favorite music,” says Megan Cooperman, assistant director of group fitness for the Columbia Association. “Oftentimes in dance fitness classes, members will tell us the time ‘flies by.’ When you are doing something you enjoy, your workout will feel less like a chore and more like a party.”

When: LaBlast fitness classes are offered on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday at 10:45 a.m., Friday at 10:45 a.m., and Sunday at 8:15 a.m.

Where: Columbia Athletic Club, 5435 Beaverkill Road, Columbia

Cost: Free to all Columbia Association members. The class is also available to nonmembers at Haven On the Lake (find more information at

Contact: Call (410) 715-3000 or visit

Instructor Megan Cooperman leads the LaBlast Fitness dance class at the Columbia Athletic Club.
Instructor Megan Cooperman leads the LaBlast Fitness dance class at the Columbia Athletic Club. (Nate Pesce / Baltimore Sun Media Group)
Pure Barre
Pure Barre is a 55-minute, full-body workout using small isometric movements with the help of a ballet barre, a waist-height handrail attached to the wall that dancers use for support. The exercise program is geared toward all ages and levels, as long as you can hold onto the barre. “You’re only going to start seeing results after 10 classes,” promises Carmel McGuire, owner of Pure Barre Columbia, “but you’re going to want to come back for the social aspect as well.”

When: Morning and evening classes offered seven days a week.

Where: Pure Barre, 8801 Centre Park Drive, Columbia

Cost: First class is $15. First full month of classes is $99.

Contact: Call (410) 997-0200 or visit

“A lot of people think jazzercise is ‘my grandmother’s workout,’ but it’s not. This is the new, modern jazzercise,” says Rene Loeb, franchise owner and instructor at the Jazzercise Columbia Fitness Center. With high-energy routines, Jazzercise brings a cardio and strength workout in funky hourlong classes for those with or without dance experience. The classes are split up into segments with 40 minutes of dancing and 20 minutes of strength training. “Most people don’t realize that an hour has passed, but it’s challenging at the same time,” says Loeb. To keep things fun and interesting, the routines change frequently, with 30 new routines every two months.

When: Morning and evening classes offered on weekdays and morning classes offered on weekends.

Where: Jazzercise Columbia Fitness Center, 9221 Rumsey Road, Columbia

Cost: $20 for a single class, $65 monthly fee with a 12-month minimum, and $75 monthly fee with a three-month minimum.

Contact: Call (443) 745-6900 or visit

Rene Loeb, franchise owner and instructor at the Jazzercise Columbia Fitness Center, demonstrates jazzercise moves.
Rene Loeb, franchise owner and instructor at the Jazzercise Columbia Fitness Center, demonstrates jazzercise moves. (Caitlin Faw / Baltimore Sun)
Adult tap
Even if you didn’t take dance classes as a child, there are still opportunities to get your toes tapping — and get your body in shape. Studio Dans offers tap dance classes for grown-ups looking to try something different while working on their coordination and musicality. “Tap is one of our most popular classes,” says Samantha Redman, managing director at Studio Dans. “You’re leaning a dance skill as well as getting a great aerobic workout. You come out sweating every time.”

Where: Studio Dans, 11830 W Market Place, Fulton

When: Usually offered on Thursday for one hour.

Cost: Drop-in classes are $14 an hour, and a 6-hour class card is $86.

Contact: Call (301) 498-3267 or visit

Beginner and intermediate ballet
Looking for a graceful way to tone and strengthen your muscles? Misako Ballet in Columbia offers beginning and intermediate ballet levels in the morning and evening. The class teaches classical technique in a 75-minute session for beginner dancers and a 90-minute session for intermediate-level dancers. “The classes offer really great stretching techniques and skills that these adult dancers can take with them for the rest of their lives,” says Naly Rice, director of marketing for Misako Ballet. “All you need is a balance bar, and you can take these moves from the studio to stretching in your kitchen.”

When: Beginner ballet classes are offered Wednesday evening, Thursday evening, and Saturday morning. Intermediate ballet classes are offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.

Where: Misako Ballet, 5485 Harpers Farm Road, Columbia

Cost: Drop-in classes are $20. A 10-class card (valid for four months) is $170.

Contact: Call (410) 884-9690 or visit

Musical theatre
Musical theatre brings a mix of singing, acting and dance together to train participants as a triple threat. The class includes dance training to get you moving, as well as vocal warm-ups, acting scenes and theatre games. “With adults, one of the major problems is time commitment,” says Lori Struss, owner and director at Genesis Arts. “You have to really love your fitness or exercise class to go. With musical theatre, it’s a lot of fun and people really enjoy and look forward to their weekly class.”

When: Wednesday evenings from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Cost: Drop-in classes are $20. Tuition is $72 a month.

Where: Genesis Arts, 9194 Red Branch Road, Columbia

Contact: Call (443) 750-1332 or visit

Les Mills fitness
Soul Fitness Studios, a boutique-style group fitness center, offers workouts designed by Les Mills, including BodyPump, BodyStep, BodyCombat and BodyFlow. The philosophy of these classes is to build relationships through movement and music. “When we put music and movement together, something miraculous happens. We have fun, we feel better, and we create strong bonds,” says Dawn Harvey, owner of Soul Fitness Studios. The classes aim to build muscle, reduce fat, increase energy and improve brain function, all while moving to a beat.

When: Times vary by class.

Where: Soul Fitness Studios, 3237 Corporate Court, Ellicott City

Cost: Drop-in classes are $15. Unlimited classes are $79 per month.

Contact: Call (410) 469-6299 or visit

Belly dance
This fall marks 17 years that belly dance classes have been offered at Slayton House in Columbia for all ages and skill levels. The weekly class offers an education in multiple forms of Middle Eastern dance, language and culture—and helps participants work their core. “Students will meet people from all walks of life and learn that every age, gender and body type can learn to belly dance, and dance well enough to perform if they want to,” says Farida al Safaar, belly dance instructor and director for Troupe Al Safaar. Children ages 8 through 14 are allowed in classes with a participating parent.

When: Wednesday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Where: Slayton House, 10400 Cross Fox Lane, Columbia

Cost: Drop-in rate is $20, or a six-class package is available for $84. There is a 10 percent discount for Columbia residents.

Contact: Call (410) 730-3987.