Photography by Megan Wylie Ruffing
Instructor Kaitlin Dann's Class

equipment information

The long, lean, and muscular body that I covet is standing only a few feet in front of me, instructing a Bodiography class to a studio filled with 10 people. I walk in and grab two, five-pound weights, an exercise ball, resistance band, and yoga mat, just in time — the music is now coursing through the speaker system. A quick, five-minute series of stretches warms up my muscles before my classmates and I begin an intense core and balance routine. “Just do what you can. This class is great if you want to get in shape,” says instructor Kaitlin Dann.
As the only certified instructor of Bodiography classes (other than founder Maria Caruso), Dann moves with the confidence of a well-seasoned professional. She began observing and substituting for Caruso’s classes one year ago, before eventually taking over the classes at Club 1 Fitness. So now, three times a week, Dann guides her classes through core and strength training, balance, and flexibility exercises. “I’m in the best shape of my life because of this class,” Dann says. I quickly learn why.
Bodiography Contemporary Ballet was founded by Maria Caruso in 2000, as a nonprofit, creative outlet for college-educated dancers with athletic bodies. With an acceptance for all body types, Caruso and her company formed a relationship with Club 1 Fitness in order to spread a positive and healthy message toward body image and how to live a healthy lifestyle through dance and movement. The exercise classes at Club 1 focus on strengthening the whole body, so after stretches, we immediately begin a series of what seems like 1,000 crunches (in reality, it was closer to 100). Then, we move into cross-body sit-ups, and we work out our lower abdomens by doing reverse crunches using the exercise ball. Nearly every exercise in the class is done in approximately eight repeating eight counts. The age of the women in the class ranges from 20 to 60, but everyone seems to enjoy the intense workout equally. Dann says the key to getting the most out of the class is to not be discouraged. “What you’re able to do in the class changes regularly, sometimes even on a class-to-class basis. You’ll be able to progress further each time,” she says. After another grueling series of abdomen work using the exercise ball, Dann incorporates strength training into the routine with bicep curls and modified chest presses using the resistance band. Hours later, after the class, I begin to feel a familiar twinge of soreness. My arms, shoulders, legs — OK, everything — burns from the workout. Dann says that both the dance company and exercise classes offered by Bodiography are aimed at the same goal — being healthy. “We want to create strong dancers, not just dancers of a certain size.”

Club 1 Fitness, 6325 Penn Ave., Shadyside. 412.362.4806. club1pittsburgh.com. Bodiography Contemporary Ballet Company, bodiographycbc.com.

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