They danced like they were on Broadway – spinning, stamping, throwing their arms up and down as they sashayed from side to side.

As the fast paced songs changed, they stayed in sync as sweat poured down their faces. But they sure looked like they were having fun.

“It’s a fun cardio workout, and you never get bored,” participant Kim Nelson had told me before the Dance Trance class one Friday morning in Neptune Beach.

“It’s very freeing – and it’s also multitasking,” Effie Quintana says as she waits for the one-hour long weekly class to start. The large studio fills with students wearing skin tight pants, sassy T-shirts and dance shoes. They all face the floor-to-ceiling mirror. Some do stretch warm ups.

“You get a work out and you get a release,” Quintana says. “It’s like working out and de-stressing at the same time.”

Dance Trance is a dance fitness program founded and based in Jacksonville, with 53 locations to date worldwide. New locations are added monthly, including recent ones in Saudi Arabia, Croatia and London, owner Beth Handline tells me as she gets ready to teach the class.

Dance Trance features energetic, choreographed dance routines at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels of instruction. “The program is unique and fresh because we do a lot of new choreography all the time,” Handline says. Her team of 15 choreographers around the country create new routines weekly, incorporating rock, Latin, jazz and pop styles of music. As soon as a new song hits the charts, they create a dance routine for it.

Handline and her team of 20 instructors in Jacksonville learn new songs and moves every Sunday. In the First Coast there are studios in Neptune Beach, San Marco, Bayard, and Fernandina Beach, and classes are offered every day of the week at various times, so there are lots of routines and songs to learn. “It’s hard,” Handline says with a grin. “It takes all day Sunday.”

After shooting pictures of the fast moving dancers, I decide to join them to see what it’s like. I’m not dressed for it, but I take off my shoes and jump in for the second half of a routine set to Nicki Minaj’s “I’m Out.”

“Ladies, it’s your song – so as soon as this comes on – you should get out on the floor – go and get your sexy on,” Minaj belts out as I watch Handline and try to copy her moves.

It was fun. Even though I had never done it before, I could approximate her movements closely enough to get a good workout. No one was judging me, because I wasn’t really on a stage. The other dancers were watching Handline, not me. And there was no audience, except the mirror.

My fellow dancers were right. There’s no way you’re going to be bored with Dance Trance. And it’s multitasking in a good way. You’re constantly learning something new while working out and having fun.

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