WEEKLY WORKOUT: Erin and Sonya groove to the music during a Body Jam class

Sometimes it just doesn’t seem right to use the word “workout” when the exercise we’re doing feels more like playing.

“You get into the music and the dancing and the next thing you know the hour is over!” That’s how instructor Kristin Johnson describes Body Jam and once the class starts we start to understand.

“It’s just dancing,” she hollers, “wherever you like to dance. A club, a wedding reception, in your bedroom with the lights off!”

During this cardio class participants can let loose to Shakira and howl or channel John Travolta and pull off some disco moves, all while working up a sweat. “The harder you dance, the more of a workout it is,” Kristin says with a smile, “it’s a party… it’s a party!” And it’s an all ages party, too.

The day we attend Body Jam there are teenagers, their mothers and women old enough to be grandmothers in the class. Everyone is showing attitude and strutting their stuff. Kristin gets people fired up and having a good time and she’s an inspiration in more ways than one.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. I had a double mastectomy, reconstruction, chemo.” The disease took her off the dance floor but not for long, and she returned with a new passion for teaching. “I loved the class even more because I could just disappear into the dance zone, the music zone and not think about what was going on in my life. You realize it’s not just your physical health, but your mental health, too!”

We’re definitely not “Dancing Queens” but we’re smiling along with everyone else, because Kristin’s grin is contagious. Whether we’re pumping our arms, jumping around the room or shakin’ our rumps, this workout flies by and leaves us feeling fantastic and full of life.

“I know dancing’s not everybody’s thing, but there are people who would rather dance a marathon than run a marathon!” Kristin says with a big laugh, and we couldn’t agree more. If you want to give Body Jam a try, you’ll find Kristin at both the Waukee and Walnut Creek YMCA.