Need an excuse to shake what your momma gave you? Call it exercise, call it self-expression, but the word on the street is you can definitely call the new dance-exercise classes: fun! Dance classes have brought out couch potatoes and given them something that is just fun enough to entice them to forget that it’s exercise.

Lisa Stark of Portland was looking for a way to get in shape, but the gym just left her unconnected and filled with insecurities. Her “Exotic You” dance classes show women the ropes with the how-to’s of exotic dancing. “I was looking for a dance class here in Portland and saw a business opportunity. I had no idea how to dance. I hired a stripper to teach me the moves, and it has frickin’ been the joy of my life,” Stark said.

Stark offers private party-style classes in Portland, and hopes to bring classes back to Salem in the spring. “It’s all about being okay with who you are. No one needs to be who they are not. There is no negative self-talk about your body. You need to feel sexy and smile,” Stark said.

No tennis-shoes needed for this class. If you have five-inch platform shoes, bring them. If not, Stark has a few back-up pairs. Stark believes that it’s impossible to not feel sexy with heels, “They give you a long sleek silhouette, the knee pads that we wear during class are not sexy, but you forget you are wearing them.”

According to Stark, students tell her that the class is a cross between Pilates, yoga and dance. The fast paced dance works on the core. “Everything is exaggerated. You are extending your arms. It’s about body control and attitude, it is fun, and you do gain some flexibility.”

“I think there is a closet stripper in every one of us. My oldest student was 82 years old. It’s about breaking down barriers and it feeds the ego and helps relationships, Stark said. “Husbands thank me. It’s nice to have your wife come home with a smile and a swagger.”

If stripper aerobics isn’t your style, bring in the Salsa style Zumba to your life. The hip-hop dance style will have you working up a sweat. Jackie Welter found the Zumba craze while on a trip to Miami. Welter researched the craze on a referral from a friend and thought it was a good way to incorporate her love of dance along with her experience of being a fitness trainer. “It helps me to be a better salsa dancer. It works hand in hand, and it is fun,” said Welter.

“This is not for the typical person who goes to the gym. The Zumba class is a fitness party. It’s about fun, and you can have fun and not know you are exercising. We snag them, we get your non-exerciser into the class,” Welter said. Zumba is popular around the world, especially in South America, Costa Rica and Europe. “It is an amazing style of exercise. Has the peak happened? I think the Zumba style has quite the run ahead. It appeals to a broad range of people,” Welter said.

“You hop, you lift your feet, you are moving and burning calories. A good Zumba workout burns about 1,000 calories,” Welter said. “Zumba really is fitness and dance fused together.” Zumba isn’t just a girl workout. Zumbatonic brings children into the exercise, and Zumba Gold is for seniors. Welter has plans to start hosting club-style Zumba, where it’s a dance club atmosphere where everyone gets a workout, which turns into a dance party after. Christmas parties have turned Zumba, and Welter leads the crowd in a hip-shaking work out, even in front of the boss.

Welter is quick to say that Zumba is not a test. “You find an instructor that knows what they are doing. I have been in the fitness industry for ten years. Everyone can dance, but if your instructor does not know how to cue, then they are going to be hard to follow.”

Zumba is really equipment free. Unlike Pilates or other classes, you just bring your tennis shoes and your “party” and move it to lose it. “You’re slow, you’re fast, it doesn’t matter. You are going to burn calories and you are going to have fun doing it,” said Welter.

For more information

Exotic You Classes

420 SE 6th Ave, Portland OR 97214

Call or Email for local party information or new forming classes


Salem Fitness

5115 Commercial St. SE