A new fitness craze is waltzing into Gwent - and you don't need a partner. CARYS THOMAS finds out what Fitsteps is all about.
FITSTEPS was created by Strictly Come Dancing stars Ian Waite and Natalie Lowe with the help of Olympic swimmer Mark Foster who appeared on the BBC hit show in 2008. The workout incorporates fitness and learning dance routines including the cha cha, waltz, paso doble, quickstep, jive and the tango.
The new workout has been launched across the UK and has been thriving in Gwent for the past five weeks. Kim Brockhurst, 51, is a yoga and Pilates instructor and decided to start teaching dance as part of Fitsteps.
The sixth session was held in Blaina last week which attracted around 25 people, it has grown week on week since the first session of eight members.
Ms Brockhurst said: "I've never really taught dancing before, it has always been fitness in health clubs as I was previously the leisure club manager at Dylan’s in the Celtic Manor. I have taught Zumba classes a few years ago.
“Dancing is something everyone can have a go at. It's a very effective workout, we have a huge age range from 13 until 80-years-old. The majority are ladies, we have a young lad called Robbie, who's 13-years-old, he first came with his mother and sat with his computer but a few dances in and he wanted to join in.”
She added: “He was like a little Elliott and took part in the Waltz.”
Ms Brockhurst has been trained by Mr Waite of Strictly Come Dancing to teach Fitsteps classes, the programme uses online teaching guidance to build up dance routines. Classes are now in Blaina, Abertillery, Ebbw Vale and will be starting on Monday in Abergavenny.
She said: "Dancing really improves your posture, it pushes your chest out and pulls your stomach in. The ladies have told me that it has improved their posture in day to day life. A lady who owns a shop in Abertillery who comes along to classes has really caught the dancing bug and demonstrates to her customers.
"It's fun, we have a laugh. Not everyone has one right foot and one left foot. No one seems to worry about going wrong in class.
“We do something called rotation where the front row of the class after every song moves to the back of the room. It's a way of bringing confidence out and for people to be able to see the steps clearly."
The classes last an hour and consist of six to eight dances in that time. Ms Brockhurst said the steps are easy to follow as they are built up week on week before adding arm movements to complete the dance.
She said: “The numbers have been growing week on week, it has been quite successful. I’m the only one in the area who’s been trained to teach Fitsteps at the moment, the nearest one is in Swansea.
"I taught Pilates and yoga but I've always tried to keep up with different fitness trends. I have a few friends who are presenters all over the world who were all talking about Fitsteps, I thought I'm 51 I enjoy watching ballroom on Strictly and thought i would have a go.
“This class really builds up your fitness, it’s non-stop. It’s like an insanity class without the impact. It’s such fun, keeping fit and a little glitzy with Strictly Come Dancing.”
She added: “The stars visit the different classes around the UK, hopefully I can get Ian or Natalie to pop to one of our classes soon. I have had interest from people wanting to start a class in Usk which is brilliant, Fitsteps seems to be catching on which is fantastic.”
Julie Partridge,51, of Richmond Road, Abertillery has been going to Fitsteps since the first class in Abertillery.
She said: “I had a broken arm at the time of the first classes so I just went to observe. I enjoyed it so much I had to get involved.
“I do Pilates and always want to try new fitness trends. I thought I would give this one a try and I was hooked.
The retired retail manager said the class is fun and there is no need to be professional dancers to take part.
She said: “I’m not the best dancer, I have two left feet but week on week I seem to be improving and so is everyone else. I enjoy all the various dances that we do, both the quick and the slow dances – it’s something different every time.
“I do like Strictly, I’ve never done ballroom before but it’s quite easy to get into it.”
There is no need for a dance partner at Fitsteps and members outline one the benefits of the classes is weight loss.
Ms Partridge said: “A number of members have lost weight and a few inches since joining the class. As we get through the weeks, we are getting more confident.
“I do a lot of walking which tones your legs and bottom but dancing you use muscles all over. I have found that I have higher energy levels since starting the class and better posture.”
She added: “It’s a different way to keep fit. You’re not only working your mind with remembering the steps but your whole body as well.”
Ms Partridge describes the class as a sociable one with friendly and fun atmosphere.
She said: “Kim has such high enthusiasm for the classes which is just infectious when she’s teaching the steps, it rubs off on us. It’s great fun, a bit of a giggle, great to get you in shape, helps to improve your flexibility, posture and confidence.”
Amy Langridge, 28, of Windsor Road in Six Bells, said: "I love the dance moves that are influenced by Strictly, it really makes you feel a little bit more co-ordinated and elegant than you really are. It's also a fab workout, and this class has helped with weight loss.
"I got involved after seeing the advert in my local community hall. I follow the swimmer Mark Foster on twitter and he's been involved with the concept and so as soon as I saw the advert I thought I'd give it a go. I would definitely encourage others to get involved as the atmosphere in class is fab and it's suitable for all ages and fitness levels.”
The health and safety co-ordinator at Unilever, added: "Kim is also a great instructor and her enthusiasm and encouragement is infectious."
Classes are £2.50 and are open to anyone 13-years-old and above. Classes at Abergavenny begin on Monday’s at 7.30pm in the Abergavenny Girl Guides Hall.
The other classes are held on Tuesday’s at 7.30pm in the Abertillery Institute, Wednesday’s at 7.30pm in Blaina Community Hall and Thursday’s at 6pm at the Ebbw Vale Institute.
For more information contact Kim Brockhurst on 07827999176 or firstname.lastname@example.org