At 5:30 p.m. every Tuesday, students file into a dance studio in the Koury Athletic Center for an hour of dance, sweat and empowerment.
Junior Victoria Parrish has been teaching “Cardio Hip Hop” for more than a year and has generated a dedicated group of regulars who attend her group exercise class.
After taking a class similar “Cardio Hip Hop” at Fit Expo last year in Asheville, she knew she wanted Elon University students to experience the same thing.
“After taking the class, I noticed at the end that I felt good — not because I got all the moves but because the instructors made me feel so comfortable and made it so fun,” Parrish said. “I knew then that I wanted to bring it to Elon and that I wanted to focus more on making the class fun and making people feel good about themselves and that they can do the class no matter what level
To prepare for each class, Parrish said she will often hear a catchy song and from there begin to think of a dance to go along with it.
“My participants laugh at me a lot because I’ll say, ‘Give me the good booty,’” Parrish said. “It’s hip hop — you gotta pop it, lock it, drop it — all that good stuff. I try to channel my inner Beyonce, especially for ‘Cardio Hip Hop.’”
For the more “workout-centered” classes she teaches, such as “Total Body” or the occasional “Yoga” and “Rope Burn” class, the process is a little different with more focus on a specific muscle group and researching exercises that cater to that.
Parrish has been teaching group exercise classes since the spring of her freshman year but looks forward to “Cardio Hip Hop” the most. She prefaces each class with a spiel to a room of up to 25 students to create a comfortable environment that encourages students to let loose.
“I really just say, ‘This is a fun way to exercise, and while it’s an exercise, it’s also a comfortable space where we are all doing something that we love and dancing while also trying to stay fit,’” Parrish said. “‘No one is here to judge you. Do your own thing and push yourself to your own limits, but don’t forget to enjoy it along the way.’”
Junior Lydia Willig also teaches group exercise classes but has found herself showing up regularly to Parrish’s weekly class.
“[Victoria] is energetic and encouraging,” Willig said. “I also enjoy her choreography. I was a dancer for 14 years, and it’s fun to do something similar as a workout. The class is challenging as well, which gives me the sense that I got a good workout while enjoying myself.”
Parrish said it is rare to not have a student stop her on the way out of class to tell her how much they enjoyed their hour with her.
“Having people like the class enough that they have the courage to come up to me afterwards and acknowledge it and say thank you is an amazing feeling — to really know that you helped that person in that way,” Parrish said.
Willig says the class is what you make of it, but she leaves each time having gotten a lot out of her experience.
“You are free to give all the attitude you want and really get into your workout,” Willig said. “You’re definitely ‘working it,’ in all senses of that phrase. It makes me feel empowered and sassy.”