Fitness Parties: Turning Happy Hour into Healthy Hour

It’s Friday night and across the country, men and women are trading that traditional Happy Hour at a bar for a Healthy Hour at a fitness party instead. Swapping stilettos for sneakers and knocking out squats instead of knocking back shots. According to a recent Reuters article and Shape’s article: 13 Fitness Trends to Watch in 2013, people are increasingly choosing post-workout protein shakes over cocktails by attending group fitness dance parties instead of the traditional nightclub scene. Our society is becoming more health conscious, yet more time crunched than ever. Instead of trying to choose a fit life over your social life, now you can have both by attending the new nightlife craze – fitness dance parties.

80s dance party

Barry’s Bootcamp arguably originated the concept of dance party-inspired fitness ever since it opened its doors in 1998. The standard, group classes have always been conducted in their trademark gym-as-nightclub setting – dim lighting illuminated with flashing lights and pulse-pounding music and taught by sexy instructors. But Barry’s Bootcamp COO, Joey Gonzalez took this concept to the next level, turning a workout into an event.

“So, the Dance Party was an idea I had during the very first summer here in NYC. It was actually called Joey’s Dance Party and I taught it every single week. The original inspiration was caused by my reaction to the New York City nightlife. I was overwhelmed by all the Happy Hours, dinners and wild late nights people seemed to indulge in here, in the Big Apple and I wanted to provide people with another option.”

st. patrick's day dance party

“The actual workouts aren’t too different than our standard Bootcamp class. I always try and throw in something related to the theme, for example, a Macarena with light weights during a 1990s event. Themed-dance parties have included a New Kids On The Block, Super Hero (where instructors dressed up as super heroes), Bad-Boy Dance (90’s hip-hop) and Booty-poppin’ Dance Party.”

gag dance party

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, the movie capital of the world, the next logical evolution of the fitness dance party craze stripped down to the bare basics during the “Magic Mike” Dance Party at Barry’s Bootcamp. Four hard-bodied trainers, Martin George, Storm Newton, Scott Haddock and Allie Cohen gave some very hands-on and, um…groin-on instructions to clients, along with a very revealing floor show for hot and bothered clients who came prepared with dollar bills. Even though Magic Mike was a movie about male strippers and their six-pack abs, there were plenty of guns featured as well.


Martin George, Los Angeles area General Manager of Barry’s Bootcamp said, “Not only is it an incredibly tough workout, but it’s a fantasy brought harmlessly to life! I mean who hasn’t had a crush on some hard body who works at the gym? Instead of being a chore to go to the gym it becomes something that is a fun experience with like minded people who quickly find common interests and form strong bonds of friendship (i.e. Where everybody knows your name! And they’re always glad you came!)”

The sold-out Magic Mike event was such a success, a sequel is planned as well as another racy-themed fitness party. Stay tuned for “Fifty Shades of Grey” coming soon!


“Nothing is ever going to replace the traditional bar scene, but those who are gym conscious are starting to realize that getting crazy in a workout class is a great high in itself without all the harsh after-effects or the addition of the expensive drinks, or having to work off the expensive drinks the next day! Plus, IT’S JUST F-ING FUN!!” concludes Martin.

Joey adds, “People are looking for alternatives to the typical Saturday night as health, wellness and fitness have become more integrated into our culture and lifestyle. It’s almost as if they are looking to redefine their lives. Shockingly, we’ve adopted a cult following of people who ONLY attend the Dance Parties. Crazy right?”

Even yoga studios like One Down Dog in Silver Lake, the hipster enclave of Los Angeles, are reinventing the solemn image of yoga practitioners and their penchant for flute and drum music with their own version of dance parties. Yoga teacher and owner of One Down Dog, Jessica Rosen, throws monthly yoga/dance parties with a different theme. Past themes have included 80’s, 90’s and hip-hop. Awesome outfits are encouraged and these dance parties are a combo of challenging and playful yoga flows, mixed with a whole lot of booty shaking to the latest playlists and live DJ’s. Jessica encourages participants to “let go of your fears, step out of your comfort zone, reconnect and have a blast while you’re doing it!

1down party

By the end of the night, everybody’s yoga mats have transformed into sweaty slip n’ slides and everyone is riding high on a yoga buzz. In addition to her credentials as a yoga teacher, Jessica has a Masters in psychology and is a licensed advanced alcohol and drug counselor. She wanted to offer a healthy alternative for fun outside of the bar scene. “We don’t need substances to have tons of fun and feel good. Throw on some good music, get great people together, practice some yoga, dance your ass off and boom – good vibrations. Plus, as an extra bonus you get a workout in too! People have been loving them – all ages, men/women, single, couples. We all just want a place to connect where we can be ourselves.”

It looks like the party’s just getting started. Jessica says, “In the future we have plans for a massive dance party at lululemon Glendale in June with a DJ and treats as well as many more exciting themes (a rave party, maybe?) Get ready!”



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Minsun Park


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Minsun Park is a blogger, writer and a black belt in taekwondo who gets her ass handed to her daily by her two sons. She’s written for iVillage, SheKnows, ePregnancy and is featured in “The Hot Mom’s Handbook” by Jessica Denay. She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter