Gotta Dance


BODY!JAM from Les Mills is the latest fitness phenomenon.

By Dylan Haas
Photography by John Webster

Are we human? Or are we dancer? BODYJAM participants are both.It might look like BODYJAM is “just another” dance-based group fitness class. However don’t make the mistake of minimizing its significance to any of the hundreds of BODYJAM enthusiasts—self-proclaimed JAM-vangelizers—throughout the Treasure Valley. “JAM is an emotional experience, always,” says Julie Severson. “I feel empowered when I master the choreography and get to the point of letting go of self-consciousness and so I can just dance for the love and feel of it.”

Her experience is echoed universally among BODYJAMMERS in Boise. “It] isn’t an exercise class,” says Joy Erman. “It reaches a deeper spot. The satisfaction and benefit reached at the end of a class is so much more than cardio.”

BODYJAM is the dance-based, cardio-aerobic class from Les Mills, a New Zealand based group Fitness Company with over a dozen different fitness programs available in over 14,000 fitness clubs worldwide. Their classes include BODYPUMP, BODYATTACK, BODYCOMBAT, BODYFLOW, BODYSTEP, RPM, and CXWork to name a few of the other programs available at fitness clubs throughout the Treasure Valley. However BODYJAM is beloved in a uniquely personal way by JAM enthusiasts. “It’s not like [other classes] where I go because I know it’s good for me. I go to JAM because I love it,” says Aline Burchfield.

Other popular Les Mills fitness programs such as BODYPUMP and BODYATTACK are designed for endurance and strength training; for instructors, these classes require a more serious attitude to impart a certain intensity and athletic focus. “That’s why I love teaching BODYJAM the most,” says Camille McCauley, a local instructor certified in several Les Mills programs. “I am free to lose myself in the routine and just dance!”

What distinguishes BODYJAM from other dance-themed aerobics classes? Put simply: the choreography and the music. Each class is roughly 55 minutes long, organized around two “blocks” of choreography set to the latest dance music ranging from hip-hop to salsa to club-based house beats. Each choreography “block” is designed to build in intensity, introducing new movements one at a time, layering each upon the last, culminating in a final “breakout” of the entire dance block.

Unlike other fitness dance programs, BODYJAM ensures participants learn full dance routines while getting an excellent workout, which for many, rekindles a childlike love of dance within them. “I danced when I was a kid. I love that there is a group fitness class where I can dance as an adult without having to join a dance class,” says Tanya Pardy.

And because a new set of BODYJAM music and choreography is released world-wide every three months, everyone is a newcomer on a quarterly basis. Indeed, the international release ensures newbies that they will be familiar with the routines no matter where they attend BODYJAM; whether you’re in Boise, Idaho or Paris, France, everyone learns the new routines together.

Ready to dance? BODYJAM is available five days a week in Boise at Axiom and the downtown YMCA. Check their websites for class availability.