What It Is: FORWARD__Space, a dance space frequented by celebrities who want a good workout.
Who Tried It: Lindsay Kimble, PEOPLE.com staff editor and Sheila Cosgrove Baylis, Health editor
Level of Difficulty: 8/10 — You’ll be left totally breathless, but the moves and choreography are geared toward both seasoned dancers and wannabe dance floor champs.
I haven’t been to a night club in some time, but at 9 a.m. one recent morning I found myself under flashing lights, dancing to top tracks from Drake, Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande.
This early-morning club? FORWARD__Space, a melding of dance, health and wellness founded by choreographer, artistic director and teacher Kristin Sudeikis, in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
FORWARD__Space offers what they call “50-minute sweat sessions anchored in dance” — and boy was I sweaty.
The space has clear nods to music throughout, with the bathroom walls covered in old record albums and Ice Cube’s “Check yo self before you wreck yo self” inscribed across the changing area’s mirror.
The actual studio walls are covered with mirrors, and a stage sits at the front of a room with a deejay booth — this is where the instructors amp up the gathered attendees and lead the class through a non-stop, high-intensity routine of dance-inspired combinations.
On the day I was in studio, Sudeikis, lead us alongside Master Instructor Rachel Warren — who encouraged attendees to cheer each other on with high-fives and occasional chants.
In the latter half of the session, the teachers break down a short dance combination. The choreography is simple enough, even for someone like me who hasn’t danced since their teen years. But getting it right isn’t the point — as Sudeikis and Warren were quick to remind the group — it’s about having fun while trying.
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Our class started out slow with a routine set to a Ciara classic, before we sped it up to match some faster tracks. And though I wasn’t perfect, I couldn’t wipe the smile (and the beads of sweat) off of my face.
“Music and movement are the great connectors; and dance is universal,” Sudeikis tells PEOPLE. “At FORWARD__Space, we orchestrate 50 minutes of music and movement as a way to reconnect to the universal joy dancing brings. And you don’t have to be good at it.”
She adds, “We simply want you to feel good moving your body to really good music in a club-like setting. If you go the wrong way, that’s a part of it. We have to allow ourselves to go the wrong way … it’s not about being afraid of going the wrong way, it’s about being so scared you never make any move at all.”
At the end of class, the group gathered into a circle as Sudeikis helped us wind down — and express gratitude for the experience.
“Some of our best memories are made on the dance floor,” says Sudeikis. “We dance at weddings, anniversary parties, sleepovers, prom, and the best nights out with your friends. It’s the feeling we are after. Coupling athleticism and artistry in our club is our way of achieving this incredible feeling.”
The Verdict: I was sore for three days after class, and kept running through the choreography in my living room. And yep, I’ve already been back for a second session.
Visit www.forward-space.com for more information.
Sheila’s Additional Verdict: After reading Lindsay’s review, I had to try it for myself, so I went to FORWARD__Space’s seasonal outpost in the Hamptons. It was a blast, and makes me only want to do dance workout classes from now on. I got a great workout, but wasn’t thinking about how hard my body was working, because I was focusing on the steps. My fellow dancers were all sorts of ages and dance abilities, so I didn’t feel self conscious. It’s definitely a safe space to try a dance workout.