BODYJAM™ at Parnassus: Bust A Move!

Columnist
School of Medicine

Mondays and Wednesdays are my favorite evenings at the UCSF Parnassus gym. Those are the nights that I get to don my neon Spandex, forget all my worries and dance the day into oblivion. Led by Timothy Clark and Matty Perkins, Les Mills’ BODYJAM™ is, hands down, the most fabulous gym class I have ever taken.

The name is a bit ambiguous, so I am often asked, “What do you do inBODYJAM™?” My usual response is, “Imagine you were Beyonce’s back-up dancer. That’s what you do in BODYJAM™!” It is a cardio dance class that fuses music from today’s top hits with old school hip-hop, funk and global jams. I often find myself singing and laughing as much as I’m dancing and shaking it like a fool.

What truly makes BODYJAM™ as amazing as it is are the funky, fit and inspiring teachers. Clark and Perkins encourage you to let loose and dance hard, so not only do you get a great workout, but you have a ton of fun doing it. The humor and light-hearted fun they bring to class will have you smiling from beginning to end.

Moreover, these guys have got moves! The flourish they bring to the dance steps makes you want to bring that much more style to your own, so it never feels like you’re just going through rote motions. Yet, the moves are simple enough that anyone can do them, even if you don’t consider yourself much of a dancer. It’s a great workout for people of all fitness levels — just remember that the harder you jam, the more intense your workout will be. 

The class is structured so that you begin with a warm-up groove, followed by a first-half “rehearsal” set where you learn a sweet dance combination. Following the rehearsal, you get to “perform,” which is when you really start to feel the cardio burn.

After the first “performance,” you get a quick cool-down song to catch your breath before learning the dance sequence for the second half of class. Again, you do a rehearsal and performance, all followed by one final cool-down track with some nice stretches for your worn-out muscles. By the end of class, you’ve learned enough moves to keep it happening on the dance floor all weekend long. (Note: I busted out BODYJAM™ moves at a friend’s wedding last weekend, and they were a big hit.)

A new BODYJAM™ class is produced every three weeks, and the newest release just launched on Monday, Oct. 15. This release boasts a mix of old-school Destiny’s Child and other ’90s favorites, along with Rihanna and Mariah — so if you’re at all like me, you’ll be singing as much as you’re dancing. Timothy and Matty are seasoned BODYJAM™ instructors, and they often change the line-up so that you never get bored with any one release.

You can jam at 7:10 p.m. on Mondays and 6:15 p.m. on Wednesdays at UCSF Parnassus (classes are 55 minutes), but sign up early, because spaces fill up fast. The class is a great mix of young and old, men and women, and everyone always leaves wearing a sweaty shirt and a smile. In fact, we all have so much fun that I often catch onlookers peering in through the studio’s glass windows. BODYJAM™ is a great way to burn calories, improve co-ordination and learn how to shake those hips.