Megaxe on the Mall

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of Kazaxe.

Bueller? Anyone? Bueller?

Well. according to the team at Azuka-Bom, it’s this:

Axe means “positive vibes”, and it is exactly what our whole philosophy at Azuka-Bom is. We want you to have a place where you can feel great and have fun! “CASA DE AXE” = “House of Positive Vibes”.

Kazaxe is a party workout! We use international music you can FEEL rush through you. Dancehall, Reggae, Hip Hop, Soca, Samba, Axe, Brazilian Funk, Southern Line dances, even some Tinikling, haha. And we do not widdle waddle around, we get you moving. If you think “dancing” can’t be a hard workout, I say, you should just try.

Basically, it’s a super crazy-amazing dance workout. Every time I go, I sweat a ridiculous amount and have so much fun. I mean, just check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSqGNYpjVxE.

This weekend, the gals at Kazaxe held a MEGAXE – a giant dance sesh on the National Mall – to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. image1

Saturday was a beautiful day in DC, which also meant that it was hot and muggy. Seems like a perfect day to dance our butts off. In crazy rave-hippie neon colors. #logic

My girlfriends and I met up at the foot of the Washington Monument to get our dance on. We decked ourselves out in our best warrior paint and neon and glitter – I felt like Ke$ha. It was amazing.

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All of the neon. All over. Everything.

 

We got things started with a warm-up dance – and while warming up the muscles is important, we were already plenty warm. Needless to say, after one dance, the sweat? It was er’rywhere. Which meant that the neon warpaint was also everywhere.

This Megaxe was amazing – I’ve never been to any other workout class where I’m actively encouraged to twerk. Where twerking is part of the routine. The combination of so many styles of dance is probably my favorite part – and let me tell you, the quads? They get one helluva workout.

I also love Kaza because you don’t have to be a dancer to enjoy it. Yes, the moves look kind of hard and things move really quickly, but you just jump in and do the moves the best you can. All that matters is that you’re moving and having fun. It’s nearly impossible not too. The instructors love what they do and they want to make you work.

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All of that dancing in the hot, hot sun meant that in about 45 minutes, I’d downed about 4 bottles of water. So necessary. I could only stay for an hour of this two-hour class, but I wore my heart rate monitor and in an hour had burned something like 900 calories. This workout is no joke. Consequently, I also wanted to eat all the things by the time I got home.

Kaza is for everyone! It’s always so awesome to see so many different people get together to dance, get a good workout in, and have a ridiculous amount of fun. I don’t think we could have been smiling harder, even though we were exhausted and nearly dead. I can’t wait to get back to my next class… one of these days I’ll be able to dance like Beyonce. Some day.

Lord of the Dance: Cardio Barre

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of dancing.  I’m an avid viewer of So You Think You Can Dance and various dance movies, including but not limited to the entire Step Up series, Dirty Dancing, Footloose, and Center Stage. I did every biographical report in school on Liza Minnelli.  I watch White Christmas even during the summer and I about died when I discovered Natalie Portman would be playing a ballerina in Black Swan.  Like so many little girls growing up in a time of outstanding dance movies such as Flashdance and Fame, at one point in my life I wanted to be a professional ballerina.  Ballet includes so many things that I love.  Tulle, for one.  And it’s French. I’m a big fan of things that are French.  I soon realized, however, that my body type was not exactly prime for prima.  For one thing, my feet are terrible.  And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about ballet from years of watching it on television, it’s that you have to have good feet.

This is the extent of my ballet career. I'm the one on the left with knock-knees and flat feet.

The beginning and end of my ballet career. I’m the one on the left with knock-knees and flat feet.

I traded toe for tap shoes and tapped my way through elementary and middle school. I even took tap in college for P.E. credit.  I Belly Danced with Veena and Neena (in my living room) and took a hip hop dance class so I could Step Up to the streets.  However, none of this could prepare me for the hour long, thighs of fire inducing glorious hell that is Cardio Barre.

Cardio Barre is described by PureBarre.com as a total body, low-impact, strength and stretching sequence that tones and lengthens muscles.  It combines basic ballet techniques with weights and focuses on tiny isometric movements.  The key is to only move an inch or two, but you do this many times.  Each toning section is immediately followed by a stretching section, so you strengthen muscles without bulking up.  Some sources say that you can burn from 300-600 calories per 60 minute session.  And this exercise in anaerobic.  Which means you burn calories even after you’re done working out (I find this almost too good to be true).

There are many variations of barre, but my experience has been with Cardio Barre.  Cardio Barre incorporates activities, such as high knees or running place, to increase heart rate.  The activities are done barefoot or in yoga socks and we use very light weights, 2-3 pounds, for basic arm toning exercises.  We squat like 400 times and then lunge for an eternity and then we move to the barre.  This is when the real pain begins.

The barre exercises consist mainly of plies but they’re done on your toes so that your calf muscles are engaged.  Then you drop your booty an inch or two over and over and over until your legs are literally shaking with fatigue.  I reach fatigue about halfway through each section at the barre and it burns so good.  I’ve seriously never experienced this type of fatigue in any exercise I’ve tried.  And I’ve been around the fitness fad sweeping the nation block.

That badass to my right is the instructor.  Her thighs are incredible.

That badass to my right is the instructor. Her thighs are incredible.

The class wraps up with an ab and core section.  Again, tiny, minute movements are stressed.  You’re supposed to be mindful of your muscles and a lot of the core exercises are just holding positions.  Which is harder than moving sometimes.  Barre uses a lot of techniques from Pilates and Yoga as well, incorporating deep breathing and stretching to lengthen muscles.  The best part is the focus on posture and form.  I have a bit of a slouching problem but in this class, I make an effort to make be regal and tall.

My verdict?  I can’t get enough of this class.  It’s so incredibly challenging and that first class is intensely devastating.  I run, I squat, I lift-weights, but my muscles were not prepared for this kind of workout.  It’s a great way to shake up your routine and shake your booty! (Now is the time when you stand up and join me for a booty shake.)

Have you tried Barre?  Did it give you the shakes?  Who would win in a dance battle, Paula Abdul or Janet Jackson? Let’s talk it out in the comments!

Everybody Dance Now

Do you have that song stuck in your head? GOOD. It will serve you well today.

Why, you ask? Because today is National Dance Day, aka my favorite day ever! Other than my birthday. And Christmas. And Bug and Mister Jess’s birthdays. And my wedding anniversary.

At any rate, it’s definitely on my top ten list of favorite days ever, but it’s actually only been around for a few years. It was launched in 2010 by the Dizzy Feet Foundation‘s co-president Nigel Lythgoe (also the Big Boss of “So You Think You Can Dance”, another obsession of mine). According to DFF’s website, National Dance Day, which falls on the last Saturday in July, is a “grassroots campaign (that) encourages Americans to embrace dance as a fun and positive way to maintain good health and combat obesity.”

Embrace dance? Yeah, I think I can do that.

As excited as I am about a day devoted entirely to my favorite form of exercise, I have been living National Dance Day nearly every day since I was little. My love for music and dance was fostered from an early age, watching my Aunt Teri’s college dance performances with awe, attending ballet class with my cousin Charity. We even put on shows for our family, captive audience that they were. I adored classic movies like Singin’ in the Rain and White Christmas, where the actors seemed to glide on air. If I could have hopped through the TV screen and danced along with Gene Kelly, I would have.

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Prima ballerina in training.

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Tiny dancers!

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Aunt Teri and I in all our 80s glory, posing for a dance wear ad. Nice legs, Aunt T (she’s the hottie on the left)!

There have been, junior high dances (fun), high school dances (super fun) and college dances (a little too much fun). Nightclub dances and wedding dances. “I have the house to myself, solo dance party, heyyyyy” dances and “the music got a hold of me in the middle of Starbucks, this is awkward” dances. I dance at work. I dance at stoplights. I dance when I run. I dance for Bug and hope that he catches the fever.  Trust me when I say that if there is music playing, it takes a lot of self control not to dance.

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Even a wedding dress can’t stop my sweet moves.

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My Dance Face™.

While I generally hate being sweaty, out of breath, and sore, I don’t consider it a good dance session unless I’m all three when the music stops. If my feet are achy and my throat is scratchy at the end of my sesh, I’m a happy girl.

Now, it wouldn’t be National Dance Day without everyone getting involved, so I asked the other Chicks to send me evidence of them getting their dance on. Enjoy these sweet moves!

Brooke and her running pal, Sara, show us what they’ve got:

Meri and Pooks sweatin’ to the beat:

Vic shakin’ it:

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Vic dancing up a storm with her friend, Audra.

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Smooth moves!

Cam using what her mama gave her:

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She’s so excited (to be dancing) and she just can’t hide it!

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Bec is an expert chair dancer:

A sampling of my sweet style:

Are you a dancing machine? What’s your go-to move? How do you plan to celebrate National Dance Day? Talk to me in the comments!