Adult Hip Hop Fitness Class

Possibly the least musically inclined person in 417-land, Lifestyle Editor Savannah Waszczuk takes a shot at an adult hip hop dance class.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this article was fact checked and accurate at press time, but 417 Magazine cannot guarantee its accuracy indefinitely.

When it comes to dancing skills, I’ve got zilch. Zero. Nada. And I can’t carry a tune, either, which clearly means that I have absolutely no rhythm. I never have. In fact, my friend has a home video of our first-grade talent show where I performed a rap dance (yeah, for real), and aside from being a couple of feet taller, I’d look the same if I did it today: ridiculous. And what better assignment for the least musically inclined person in the universe than to try an adult hip hop dance class?

Before I went to my first class, I had no idea what to expect. Adult hip hop fitness? All I could picture was neon clothes, sideways hats and a whole lot of those baggy elastic-waist Zubaz pants my older brother wore in the early ’90s. But when I arrived at Take the Lead, LLC (1740 S. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, 417-234-7511,, I saw none of that (minus one sideways hat on a guy who looked like he had stepped off the set of Magic Mike). I walked into a studio packed with nearly 30 people (a newly expanded studio opened at press time), all dressed in regular workout gear and ready to break a sweat. Wardrobe: check. Up to that point, I had no reason to be embarrassed. And then we started the warm-up.

I was preparing to be humiliated beyond belief, and for the first few exercises, I was. I can’t shake my booty very well. I can’t seamlessly flow into a body roll or get my hands and feet to follow the same rhythm. My body just won’t do that! But then, thanks to the hip hop dance instructor Janaki Gallelli, I realized that I actually don’t look too ridiculous, after all… Or if I do, no one really cares. (That’s the more likely scenario of the two.) Gallelli transplanted here from San Diego in 2010. She has a lifetime of dancing experience, growing up with a ballerina mom and taking studio dance lessons since she was 6 years old. “I’ve had lyrical, modern, ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop…” Gallelli says. And her teaching skills prove it. She did a fabulous job, breaking it down slow enough for misfits like me to follow along, and yelling out alternate options for the more advanced dancers to try. 

Gallelli teaches a new dance, comprised of four eight-counts, each week. “This way, people aren’t penalized if they miss a class or two,” she says. The dances are designed to give a cardio workout and work a variety of muscles, mainly the abdominal muscles, hamstrings, calf muscles and glutes. “We do a lot of body rolls and things like that, waking up [muscles] you’re not used to using,” Gallelli says. 

I got super-sweaty in my dance session, which proves it gave me a good cardio workout. But I didn’t realize it as I was going along, because it was actually really fun. Sure, I felt like a goof doing some of the moves, and I couldn’t help but smile, but that’s what makes the class so enjoyable. And Gallelli perfectly melds the roles of both a stern coach and a personal cheerleader. She makes sure you’re doing the moves somewhat correctly so you’re working the right muscles, but she emphasizes having fun. The best part? She occasionally yells out “freestyle,” where you get to bust a move any way you want for a few eight counts. 

In addition to enjoying an hour-long dance session, there are other benefits to the class. “The big boost you get is in your self-esteem,” says studio owner Obi Simpson. “You learn how to move, shake and wiggle your hips, and that makes a person feel sexy. Whether you look hot or not, you end up having a big grin on your face.” And he’s right. Catching myself in the mirror a few times, I didn’t look anywhere close to attractive, but I didn’t care. It was all worth the big ear-to-ear smirk that never left my face.


WHAT: Adult Hip Hop Fitness classes
WHERE: Take the Lead, LLC, 1740 S. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, 417-234-7511,
WHEN: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m., Saturdays at 10 a.m.
COST: $10 per person per class, or purchase a $60 punch card of eight sessions (the card doesn’t expire)

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