Meet our First “Student in the Spotlight”

January may be nearly over, but we’re not done introducing new things to our schedule (check out our new section of Bollywood Blast launching Feb. 2 and a Beginner East Coast Swing series coming up in March). In addition, we’re kicking off a new series designed to recognize some of our exceptional students and help you get to know your fellow dancers. 

You may recognize the name of our first “Student in the Spotlight” — Whitney Powell — because she absolutely crushed the holiday dance-off challenge, attending 30 classes between Thanksgiving and Christmas. To better showcase what a winner Whitney is, multimedia marketing intern Lani Assaf asked her a few questions, including how she stayed so motivated over the holidays.

whitney photo for philly dance fitness

Philly Dance Fitness: Congrats on winning the dance-off challenge, Whitney! Tell us a little more about you — where are you from, and what do you love to do when you’re not dancing?

Whitney: Originally I’m from Memphis, Tennessee, but I’ve lived a lot of places: Chicago, Boston, now Philly. I’m a programmer by trade, so I work from home. When I’m not dancing, I really like to cook and bake. I also recently got a new dog, so running around after her keeps me pretty occupied. I’m also learning a few foreign languages.

How did you do it?! How were you able to take 30 classes in the span of just one month?

So I actually didn’t set out specifically to win the dance-off challenge — I figured I’d get the $25 gift certificate (from attending any 12 classes between Thanksgiving and Christmas) just because I already had set classes every week that I normally went to. I especially always like to attend the ballet classes, and those are progressive throughout the week, so you really want to go all week long to see your improvement. To arrive at 30 classes, I just kept reminding myself that Christmas was coming. Every time I felt like I didn’t have the energy to go I forced myself because I would think, “What if someone beats me by just one class?”

How did you motivate yourself to stay consistent with your workouts over the holiday season?

It’s a little bit of a competitive thing, but I also really like to bake! So every time I made cookies I would think, “Hmm, maybe now I should go workout.” Working out just makes you feel so good after — all warmed up and flexible. I also like to remind myself that I’ve never actually regretting going. I’ve never thought, “Aww, I wish I hadn’t gone to workout.”

How long have you been going to Philly Dance Fitness classes, and what keeps you coming back?

I became a member of Philly Dance Fitness in May 2015, but before that I had been attending classes since March. Before coming to Philly Dance Fitness I was at a standard gym. I liked doing weights and everything, but I felt ready to try something new. With these classes I can see myself getting better and more flexible every week. I adore Beverly’s ballet classes because they really fit my personality.

Did you have dance experience before coming to Philly Dance Fitness or was it your first time dancing?

In Memphis I was taking some swing dancing classes, and when I was a little girl I did some ballet and jazz. I’ve found that dance is something I’ve always come back to. Getting the chance to dance again by finding Philly Dance Fitness has been very fulfilling, and I would say right now I’m more into dancing than I’ve been at any other point in my life.

Which class is your favorite and why?

I would say BalletEXTREME, which is the fitness side of ballet. I think that’s a really good soft opening for the other kinds of ballet classes. You get a little bit of ballet technique, but it’s also a fitness class.

Which class do you find the most challenging?

Pointe class taught by Beverly is amazingly challenging. It’s harder and so much more exciting than I could have ever imagined.

Do you have any fitness or dance goals for 2016?

I’ve been really working on my flexibility. One of my goals (although I probably won’t get there by the end of 2016) is to work on getting my splits. Another goal I have for myself is when I bend over to touch my toes — I want to be able to actually put my palms all the way down on the floor. I would definitely say flexibility is the big goal.

jazz group dance day15

Our 2015 dance-off challenge winner, Whitney Powell, third in from the left, during a performance with fellow JazzTech students at Philadelphia Dance Day.

We’re gearing up to choose another student to highlight in the coming weeks, so if you’d like to nominate someone — or even yourself! — send a note to gabby@phillydancefitness.com.

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