Haven on the Lake’s LaBlast classes combine dancing, fitness
By Tracy Dye
Somewhere in my parents’ basement is a weathered VHS tape from my first (and only) ballet recital. Four years old and dressed as a bumble bee, I can be seen following exactly zero percent of the choreography on that tape. I pretty much just spun around the whole time.
Suffice it to say, I’m not the best dancer. However, I have long been a wannabe dancer — particularly after binge watching several episodes of Dancing with the Stars. When I learned that Haven on the Lake had added LaBlastⓇ to their class schedule, I decided it was time to dust off my dancing shoes.
Created by Dancing with the Stars pro, Louis van Amstel, LaBlastⓇ is a partner-free dance fitness program that features moves from the show and is designed for all levels.
“I have had people come in with zero dance experience and within four or five weeks, I see them mastering the steps with big smiles on their faces,” said Maria Garcia, a Haven instructor who teaches LaBlastⓇ and Stretch. “I want my class to feel accessible to everyone. We start with very basic moves, but there are modifications built in so that those with dance experience can still feel challenged.”
I definitely felt challenged when I attended Garcia’s class, but not to the point of frustration. By the end of class, I had tangoed, jived, cha-chaed and salsaed away my wallflower status. The variety made the class fly by. My heart rate had also climbed several notches, signaling I had managed to burn up several calories while also having fun.
When the dancing was done, Garcia led the class through a soothing 15-minute stretch, which is meant to prevent soreness and injury.
“The stretch portion of the class is unique to Haven,” Garcia said. “We wanted to make sure that the LaBlastⓇ class also represented what Haven stands for — to help people destress and feel rejuvenated.”
It’s not difficult to unwind during any of Haven’s mind body classes, thanks to a particularly serene backdrop. Each mind body studio offers a picturesque view of the Downtown Columbia Lakefront.
“The view is like an added bonus,” Garcia said. “It’s such a relaxing atmosphere. Everyone is so friendly and eager to learn. It’s great, because I always want people to leave my class happy.”