It isn’t unusual to be asked to do squats, burpees or jumping jacks in a workout class, but if your fitness instructor asks you to play an air guitar along to Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” well, that might be your first clue that you’re not in an ordinary workout class.
On Monday and Wednesday mornings at the Gb3 on Herndon and Fowler avenues, participants jump, squat, kick, punch and, yes, play air guitar to popular songs in the hour-long High Fitness class taught by Janessa Parker and Jen Stout, who collectively go by J & J High Fitness. It’s one of the newest group fitness classes to hit Clovis, and it’s already garnered a loyal and enthusiastic following — 80 to 100 people pack Gb3’s group fitness studio each time it’s held.
The workout, founded by Emily Nelson and Amber Zenith in 2014, is often described as a cross between Zumba and high intensity interval training (HIIT). But its easy-to-follow choreography allows beginners to jump in right away.
After taking a High Fitness class in Utah, where it was developed, Parker and Stout — both group fitness instructors at Gb3 — decided to become certified High Fitness instructors and bring the classes to Clovis. In addition to Gb3, where the class is free for members or $10 for non-members, the class is offered at Just Dance at Fowler and Shepherd avenues (where class sizes are smaller, due to space constraints).
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The marriage of a dance-based workout and high intensity fitness offered the friends an opportunity to combine their unique teaching strengths. Parker, a former dancer, has taught Zumba for the past six years; Stout teaches body sculpting and kickboxing classes.
“I was ready for kind of a change,” Parker said. “We both had fun followings in our classes and we thought it would be fun to do it together.”
The instructors lead the class through the full-body workout, which often looks more like a dance party than exercise. First-timers might be intimidated when class begins and everyone starts dancing in unison to the up-tempo songs — but they shouldn’t be.
“Sometimes in other classes you can feel overwhelmed by the choreography,” Parker said, “but each song only has four movements, so it’s really easy to catch on and keep going with it.” Parker and Stout teach the larger Gb3 classes together, circulating the room so everyone can follow along. Typically, they said, one will demonstrate a modified, low-impact version of the moves.
The songs keep things fun, they added. While they vary by genre and era, they’re all familiar, popular hits.
“The music is what drives the class,” said Parker. “Def Leppard, Taylor Swift, Tyga, Michael Jackson, Sia. Pretty much what’s on the radio [now] or songs we all heard growing up.”
High Fitness “gurus” send their network of instructors a new song —with an accompanying new routine — each week. The combination of familiar and new songs, they said, helps regulars master a routine over time, but also keeps things fresh.
Although the duo taught their first High Fitness class just four months ago, the workout’s rapidly growing popularity in Clovis has caught the eye of founders Nelson and Zenith. In January they’ll be in the area to certify new instructors and teach an Epic High class.
“They don’t go a lot of places, but they’ve seen the takeoff that’s happened here,” Parker noted.
Stout said they’ve had everyone from young teenagers to seniors in their High Fitness classes — but there’s one group, in particular, that seems to gravitate toward it: “I will tell you, there are a lot of moms in here. It’s such a fun break. It’s almost like therapy.”
“It is like my therapy, my medication, my natural high — and I love it,” said Parker, who believes the workout has helped alleviate the postpartum depression she experienced after the birth of her children.
Other participants have also seen positive results. One regular, they said, has dropped two clothing sizes. Another, whose weight loss had plateaued, lost an additional 30 pounds after adding High Fitness classes to her diet and exercise routine.
“She said it changed her life,” Parker said. “Like we’ve said multiple times, it’s something new and exciting that people have been wanting and they didn’t know where they could get it. We can give it to them. The smiles on [their faces] ... they’re sweating and yet they’re still smiling.”
“And that’s what’s great about it,” Stout added. “It’s very difficult to take an hour and get to that level of intensity, and maintain that for a whole hour. When you’re in High, you don’t even realize it.”
J & J High Fitness, along with personal trainer Brandon Lucas, will host a High Fitness/bootcamp class from 11:30 a.m.- 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17 at Gb3, 1885 Herndon Ave., Clovis. Admission is free with a new, unwrapped toy to be donated to Toys for Tots. Visit @jandjhighfitness on Instagram for a schedule of additional upcoming classes and special events.