Stepping into an Oula workout class, be prepared for laughing, singing, high fives and, of course, a lot of dancing.
Oula takes its name from Missoula, Montana the city where the dance workout was created by Kali Lindner. A yoga and workout instructor with a background in dance, she created Oula in the hopes of combining aspects of dance, aerobics and yoga into a community-centered, intense workout where the room is filled with positive energy. Classes are one hour and focused on choreographed dances to top forty hits by artists like Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.
Westchester resident Christina Garcia fell in love with the dance workout while visiting Montana for a wedding. After taking just one class, Garcia, who is also a certified Zumba instructor, knew she was in the right place.
“My main love is dance. It’s something that I love to do. With Oula, I like the variety of movements,” said Garcia, who has taken dance classes her whole life. “Like runners can get a ‘runners high,’ there’s a dancing high that every time I workout I can feel. I thought if I can bring that feeling to California, that would be great.”
When she got home, she immediately cleared her schedule to book a flight to Missoula to become a certified Oula instructor. For Garcia, it’s not just about the dancing during the workout, but about the community and camaraderie that is created in each class. She says it’s not uncommon for the class to high-five each other after a song finishes. The motto of “It’s not how you look, it’s how you feel” really inspired Garcia, who admits to being too hard on herself at times and previously self-conscious about her choreography, to let loose and embrace the positivity that encompasses her Oula classes. During class, participants are encouraged to sing, rock out and get swept up in the “dancemania for the soul.”
“In Oula there are these ‘magic moments,’ when the singing gets louder and the movements get bigger. There is positive energy and people are pouring their heart out,” said Garcia. “Everyone is singing the same thing and feeling the music. You just bounce off each other’s energy.”
Garcia is one of only a handful of people certified to teach Oula in Los Angeles, but the new workout is catching on. In Westchester, Oula is currently taught by Garcia and an instructor-in-training, Jess Gaffney, Thursdays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. at L.A. Arts Collective in Westchester.
After hearing about the workout from a friend, Westchester resident Sara Caruso recently stopped by a class to see what all the hype was about.
“What a blast! I was sweating like crazy and got a fabulous cardio workout!” said Caruso. “It’s all about feeling good and being present in the moment while dancing to hip tunes. I usually do weight training, so this was an upbeat change for me. I really enjoyed it and would do it again!”
For those interested in trying the class, the first one is free. Starting February 10, Garcia will also be teaching Tuesday nights at the Westchester Family YMCA.
“The emphasis in Oula is to have fun and not care about how you look,” said Garcia. “There are a combination of reasons people take the class like meeting new people, wanting to exercise or lose weight. People like that they can feel welcome and motivated by the class. Everyone should try it and come down to check out a class. You have nothing to lose.”
For more information about Oula, visit Facebook.com/OulaLosAngeles.