If you’re still going through a “Big Little Lies” withdrawal, we’ve got a great way to help you feel closer to ringleader Madeline, aka Reese Witherspoon, until Season 2 arrives. The HBO starlet recently bonded with funnyman James Corden on “The Late Late Show with James Corden” over their mutual love for PlyoJam — the hot, high-energy cardio dance class that debuted in NYC this March. Witherspoon and Corden aren’t the only celebs who are obsessed with it and fitter for it. Kate Hudson, who’s also a huge fan, has partnered with PlyoJam’s co-founders Jason Layden and Stacey Beaman.
Just weeks after premiering at the New York Health & Racquet Club in Manhattan, where two instructors are now offering three sessions a week, we put on our best dancing shoes (i.e., sneaks) and joined the intense, yet easy-to-follow dance party, which initially launched in L.A. four years ago. After a fun and flirty sweat session that torched 415 calories in 45 minutes (no wonder co-founder Beaman lost more than 60 pounds with PlyoJam), we caught up the co-founders to get the full scoop on the workout they affectionately say “ain’t your mama’s Zumba class.”
The 45–60-minute class (duration depends on the venue) claims to be the first of its kind to artfully combine hip-hop-style dance moves with plyometrics (short, fast, explosive movements) set to a curated playlist of top 40 radio tracks.
“At the time that I created this dance class, I was teaching at a country club where women were demanding something more difficult. They wanted to walk out of the workout sweating and not needing to hit the treadmill or bike afterward. So I decided to merge plyometrics with dancing, but I was careful not to make it a boot camp. We wanted to amp up the amount of calories people burned and still make it fun,” Layden says.
Since Layden first introduced PlyoJam in 2014 and lured friend Beaman to become his client and then co-founder, they have steadily grown the brand in L.A., where it’s offered in 13 fitness studios (approximately 35 classes a week are held) and across the U.S. and globe. PlyoJam is also available in Las Vegas, New Jersey, New York and Germany. PlyoJam’s master choreographers are constantly creating new routines, which all certified instructors can access, then mix and match as they please for their group sessions. In any given class, an instructor can show you between 7–15 routines.
Next up, the plan is to build a PlyoJam flagship studio in L.A., which they hope to open this fall. If a class isn’t offered near you, you can always sign up for a weekly online subscription ($9.99), which features four new workout classes (chockful of routines) that you can do anywhere, anytime. Routines are updated weekly if you’re considering a monthly subscription ($19.99).
After a phone call had detained me at my desk longer than expected that Tuesday evening, I arrived at the New York Health & Racquet Club flustered and breathless with only 30 seconds to calm down before go-time. My bestie, Draga, who is my favorite dance partner ever, was quick to try and make me smile, but even her adorable silliness, which usually has me rolling, couldn’t wipe the grimace off my face. Our PlyoJam instructor, Ebonny Fowler, a Tracee Ellis Ross-lookalike in both her beauty and goofball humor, had her work cut out for her. Truth be told, I was prepared to dislike it. Don’t get me wrong, I love to get down, but you have to be in the mood to groove — and I simply wasn’t.
Though I had trouble hearing Ebonny in the back row (she wasn’t wearing a headset), I pieced together her pre-workout instructions, which were basically to jump around with her if you want, but honestly, just aim to do your best to have a great time. She also stressed that if she’s kicking with her right leg and you accidently lift your left leg, it’s all good. There’s no hard, fast rules here. Just do you. This encouraging message right off the bat immediately washed away some stress. It’s always good to dive into any new adventure knowing you can’t mess up.
From the first song, Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger,” we got right into it, body-rolling, jump-kicking, grapevining and squatting. Within 11 minutes, which is when I next looked at my sportswatch, I could feel my funk fading, despite being even more breathless than when I started. When I looked to my right during DJ Snake’s “Let Me Love You,” there was Draga beaming as she always does when she’s in her element. Her huge smile, along Ebonny’s, was so infectious that I slowly revealed my pearly whites, too, and began letting loose and putting more into each move. Suddenly, I was jumping higher, moving faster and really feeling the beat.
I have to note that not everyone chose to match Ebonny’s electric energy and that was cool. There was one particular young woman who took the “do you” message to heart, turning each and every single HIIT step into a low-intensity move (no jumping, no speed). And she was in the front row, too! It was really comforting to see her confidently dancing the way she wanted. It confirmed that we were in a judgement-free zone, which is exactly what you want when you’re twerking in unison with strangers.
With sweat dripping down my face and back, I soon stripped to my sports bra (something I rarely do) and black tights and began channeling my inner J-Lo from her backup dancer days. Feeling sexier and more confident with each song, I caught myself looking more in the mirror at my booty, which was rotating clockwise then counter-clockwise, than at my watch. At one point, during Demi Lovato’s “Confident,” I caught a guy on the row machine outside of our glass-encased studio looking up right at me as I wagged my finger in the air and stuck out my butt as if to say, “You can look, but caaan’t touch.” Normally, this would make me blush, but in that moment, I felt like a queen.
READ MORE > WE TRIED IT FOR YOU: BARRY’S BOOTCAMP
By the last song, I was definitely mailing in most of the moves while Ebonny was still going strong. I loved watching her crush each move as if she were on stage, performing her heart out. It inspired me to try to match her, but I had neither the talent nor the stamina. But seeing the other women in class — many of whom were probably repeat customers because they had a lot of the dance steps dialed in — gave me hope that if I kept coming back, I’d be grooving with the grit and grace as they had. I’m also set on convincing Draga to become a PlyoJam certified instructor, which would be awesome for both of us.
In addition to all the great tunes Ebonny played for us, here are a dozen more that are currently on rotation for all PlyoJam classes. Rock out with PlyoJam in-person, online or on your own to the following hit songs.
“Freaks” – French Montana
“Back It Up” – Prince Royce
“Cake” – Flo Rida and 99 Percent
“The Edge of Glory” – Lady Gaga
“Ain’t My Fault” – Zara Larsson
“HandClap” – Fitz and the Tantrums
“Pon de Replay” – Rihanna
“Faith” – Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande
“Shape of You” – Ed Sheeran
“That’s What I Like” – Bruno Mars
“Chained to the Rhythm” – Katy Perry
“I’m a Lady” – Meghan Trainor