Originally printed in the pages of Simply Family Magazine’s January 2018 issue.
Never miss an issue, check out SFM’s digital editions, here!
featured photo courtesy of Laura Scheetz
Think back to a time when you felt free. Truly free. Were you on a trip? On a date? On a dance floor?
Rarely do I envision myself letting go and feeling free at the gym. If you’re anything like me, going to the gym can lead to many insecurities, smells, and the desire to get it over with, while trying (and failing!) to remain incognito! That is until you find true community.
A lover of music and dance, I was fortunate to get to experience OULA for myself, and it was awesome! The hour flew by, as did the calories! Dance fitness has always been my thing, but OULA takes it to the next level. The love and peace you feel from the OULA community are incredible. You may want to check it out this New Year!
OULA was created by Kali Lindner in Missoula, MT in 2010. With a background in dance, yoga, and Nia, she decided to stop searching for the right workout, and instead create one. Thus, OULA was born! According to the OULA Fitness website, “OULA is about losing ourselves in the music and helping us shift our focus from how we look to how we feel… it is a great class for people of all ages, shapes, dance experience and ability. OULA is about full body movement, interval training, and optimal fat-burning. It’s also about serious fun. Classes are guaranteed to leave you dripping with sweat and smiling from ear to ear.”
While the class has choreography to follow, all levels of learners are welcome. As a former dance and fitness instructor, I can tell you that you should try the class at least three times before you judge it. The first class is always the hardest, and as local instructor, Maria Miller put it, “the most intimidating.” Once you have gone a few times and recognize some of the songs and steps, you will be well on your way to a newer, slimmer, happier you!
Maria, an OULA instructor at the Billings YMCA, admitted to having a slightly unhealthy lifestyle in her earlier years and was, “never one to exercise.” She was invited to a class four years ago and quickly fell in love with the program and results. She went from feeling exhausted to exhilarated! She attended more regularly, lost some weight, and experienced the “transformation from the inside out,” claiming it “changed the game for my lifestyle.” Fast forward to the present; Maria is now a part of the OULA instructor community in Billings. Having been encouraged to certify by the OULA creator herself! When asked what advice she has for new participants, she said, “Keep trying! Once you feel the energy and joy in the room, you will realize how dancing with others connects you.” Maria’s story is one of many inspirational fitness stories in the OULA world. There are several more testimonials on the OULA Fitness website.
Another local instructor, Laura Scheetz, shared her experience with OULA. “I love OULA because it is not about how it looks but how it feels in your body! We experience the freedom of non-judgment amongst our peers, and embrace that we are all different in looks; it is what’s inside us that connects us with self and others!” Laura describes OULA as a community in which, “We connect through our successes and our struggles by dancing to music that hits us in different ways. We sing the lyrics that resonate inside our souls, and it helps us express how we feel in a safe and healthy environment.” She also adds, “It is my therapy! I encourage anybody who wants to try a new approach to fitness, in a refreshing and healthy way, to try OULA! It has changed my life in so many ways; I finally feel like I have a place where I can truly let go and be myself!”
Attending a class is a great option not only for your fitness level but also for your overall health. Many of the instructors talked about how their classes have become like families. Close friendships have abounded and as a result, a healthier community that reaches beyond waistline measurements and heart rate monitors. If you are up for a good time dancing to some of your favorite hit songs, make sure to find an OULA class near you! You won’t be disappointed. Don’t forget to bring water and a sweat towel. You’re going to need it!
Visit oulafitness.com to learn more about this fun-filled fitness option, and find a class near you!
OULA Classes offered in Billings:
Billings Athletic Club *featured instructor, Laura Scheetz
The YMCA *featured instructor, Maria Miller
Anytime Fitness- West End
Apex Personal Training and Fitness
Adult Education at the Lincoln Center
about the author…Katie Jones Backer is a former History teacher with a passion for travel, history, writing, music, and helping others. She is happiest though when spending time with her husband, daughter, and two adorable Pomeranians!