Fitness Class Review: Dance Trance

This class at Balance Gym feels more like a night out dancing than a workout.

Dance Trance offers a fun way to work up a sweat with various dance combinations performed to a high-energy playlist. Photograph courtesy of Dance Trance's Facebook page.

It’s Thursday night and I’m on a crowded dance floor, sweaty, surrounded by flashing lights, and, to be honest, a little confused.

What may sound like the start of a bad night out is your typical class at Dance Trance, the routine-based workout that Sarah Spear Sands brought to DC a little more than a year ago. And while drawing a blank on the next move is every dancer’s nightmare, at this high-energy class the confusion is all part of the fun.

The cardio class combines different elements of dance styles into a workout in a clublike environment, complete with flashing strobe lights. Sands and her fellow instructors, Lauren McCaghren and Maria Jose Horen, skip the typical microphone headsets, trusting the class to mirror their movements without verbal instructions. There are no pauses or breaks in the playlist; each song correlates to a different dance and is directly followed by another. Thirty minutes into my hourlong cardio class, we had cycled through seven songs, practicing punchy jumps to Katy Perry’s“Roar” and body rolls to “Wild for the Night” by ASAP Rocky.

Before the cardio class, Sands encouraged me to attend the slower breakdown session offered the hour before. It teaches two new routines to students after a short warmup and stretch. The majority of the 13 dancers in the high cardio class attended this intro class, a common occurrence for both new and experienced Dance Trancers.

Though I didn’t know any of the 15 routines we performed during the cardio class, most of the moves were simple enough to catch on fairly easily. My concentration and memory retention was tested, but I didn’t feel completely out of place if I missed a few moves in the middle of the dance.

The Thomas Circle location in Balance Gym rotates through more than 150 songs during the year, adding one to two new routines every week, so you can almost guarantee that the majority of participants are learning moves right along with you during every class. By the third song I was bouncing around the room with my neighbors, judgments and inhibitions abandoned after we collectively mastered a complicated set of steps to Caro Emerald’s “Back It Up.”

At home, my roommate asked how the class went, and I found myself struggling for words. I threw out phrases that incorporated everything from Zumba and disco to flash mobs and fist pumps. In the end, I left it at this: “It was fun. Just really, really fun.”

Dance Trance. Locations at Balance Gym in Thomas Circle and Foggy Bottom. $18 per class.