FAIRFIELD — Move over Zumba.
U-Jam, a workout that combines today’s hits with dance, is the new fitness rage.
“I feel like I’m in a dance club, not working out,” said Cathy Chan, who takes lessons at In-Shape from Rochelle Sanchez. “It keeps you energized. After you work a long day, it’s a great way to de-stress.”
The brainchild of Suzy C and Matt Marks, U-Jam was launched in San Jose three years ago. While the majority of classes are in the Bay Area, U-Jam has spread to Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.
Locally, it’s offered at In-Shape health clubs in Fairfield and Suisun City.
Sanchez got involved with U-Jam about two years ago.
“It’s one of those things, when you jump in, you have a great experience,” she said.
A longtime hip-hop dancer and teacher, Sanchez said the emphasis is on unity, hence the “U” in the moniker.
“You’re not competing. You are unified through dance and music,” she said.
A variety of music genres – Bollywood, jazz, Latin and K-pop – are utilized. U-Jam provides its instructors with a play list.
The steps are choreographed so if a U-Jam participant attends a class outside their regular studio, they will be able to match the dance with the song.
And if they lose their place, at least in Sanchez’s class, it’s solo time.
“There’s nothing wrong with solos,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez started her class at the In-Shape Sport on Holiday Lane in January with a handful of people. Last week, she had 17. Ages range from early 20s to early 50s.
Zumba instructor Amanda Patton is enjoying U-Jam, and said it’s more mainstream than Zumba, which focuses on Latin music.
“It’s the latest and greatest craze. I decided I had to try it,” she said. “It’s really not a dance class, it’s more like dancing as exercise.”
Chan also takes Zumba. Right now, she’s really into U-Jam, taking about three classes a week.
Linda Bridges gave U-Jam a try after a friend suggested it.
“She told me it was lots of fun. She was correct. By the time I leave, I’m soaking wet,” she said.
Another friend, Danielle Fuller, loves U-Jam for the workout and the fact that it’s time to herself.
Sanchez began a recent class with some friendly chat, inquiring whether there were any first-timers present.
“So you know what you are getting into,” she said, in jest. “Wave to your neighbor and let them know you will probably step on them.”
After a brief warm-up, the pace picked up and squats were thrown into the mix. Jumping jacks are part of the workout, too.
Norma Sanchez, no relation to Rochelle Sanchez, watched from outside the classroom door.
“I like it. Maybe next time I’ll try it. It looks like fun,” she said.
Comfortable clothes and shoes, a towel and lots of energy is all that’s needed, Rochelle Sanchez said.
All fitness levels are welcome. She said that it will take most participants a couple of weeks to get the choreography down. After that, be warned, she said.
“People get hooked on it. It’s really contagious. There’s a lot of positive energy spread around,” Rochelle Sanchez said.
She also uses U-Jam to give back to the community. In December, Rochelle Sanchez held a toy drive at the Kroc Center. Later this month, she’s doing a Relay for Life U-Jam fundraiser.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.