By LYDIA BAULER
A local dancing queen has taken her love of moving to the music to a shop downtown.
Shelly Thomas of Fostoria has long been a dancer, but recently she has turned that passionate hobby into a blossoming new business, Fit N Dance Shakin’ It with Shelly, located at 210 S. Main St.
Fit N Dance Shakin’ It with Shelly combines the love of dancing and healthy lifestyle to create an uplifting experience that anyone can enjoy at their pace, according to Thomas.
The business began with Thomas’ own aspirations to combine an activity she enjoyed with managing her weight and getting fit.
“I love dancing “” it’s my passion,” Thomas said. “I have friends that call me ‘dancing queen.’ I was trying to get fit and watch my weight, so why not put it together?”
From this inspiration and with a supportive push from her husband, Thomas took classes to become a certified Dance2Fit instructor through the Dance2Fit with Jessica Bass program.
“I always wanted to do this (open the business) before and I waited too long, but I finally went for my goals,” she said. “My husband, Tracy, is my biggest supporter. He’s the one who pushed me.
“He said, ‘Just do it. Let’s try it.'”
After receiving her Dance2Fit certification, Thomas got her start by hosting her first classes at the Fostoria Moose 1567 and later the American Legion as well.
Thomas decided to set up shop at the new location to give her classes a singular place to gather because switching between became confusing for students.
Further, she was moved by a sense of community to keep the business in Fostoria, where she grew up.
“I lived here all my life and I just didn’t want to move it anywhere else,” she said. “I did want to try other little towns around, but I wanted to stay here to see what we could bring to the community.”
Thomas hopes to use her space as a place where people of all ages can come together.
“I don’t want to only bring fitness classes to the studio,” she said. “I want to bring things for all ages so if the Fit N Dance is too much or they can’t do the jumping around that they can still be active and involved. My husband and I would also like to do classes for parents and children together.”
For example, Thomas recently became a certified POUND instructor as well. The drumming exercise is notable for its multi-generational appeal as anyone can do it, according to Thomas. POUND, the world’s first cardio jam session, incorporates lightly weighted drumsticks engineered specifically for exercise, she shared. The business plans to soon add POUND classes to its roster.
In addition, the studio is welcoming a group from Toledo to teach Urban Line Dancing from 7-8:30 p.m. on June 21. The first session is free to anyone wanting to try line dancing to more modern music in genres beyond country. Thomas said if there is enough interest, an urban line dancing class will be added to the weekly schedule.
Thomas added she is always open to trying new things and is looking for additional instructors interested in offering their skills at the studio. The business is presently a family affair with her husband acting as her partner, the “money handler” and doing set up with additional help from the couple’s grown children.
Currently, Fit N Dance Shakin’ It with Shelly offers classes Monday and Wednesday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 9 a.m. The sessions are an hour of “fun, sweat, and toning” to the Top 40 Hits, hip-hop and old school tunes, according to Thomas.
Classes are “drop-in,” meaning you do not sign up in advance. The rate is $5 per class or $20 dollars for 5 classes.
Thomas describes her dance workouts as “modern jazzercize” that incorporates high knees, lunges and squats with dance. Though many confuse the workout style with Zumba, she said the classes include more physical fitness exercises.
“I feel Zumba is more with your Latin music and there’s more dancing,” explained Thomas. “With what I do there’s more physical fitness to it, we’re doing lunges and squats in almost every song.”
Though the classes aim to get your heart pumping and muscles working, Fit N Dance Shakin’ It with Shelly is for all ages and fitness levels. Both POUND and the dance workout classes can be modified, which Thomas demonstrates throughout the routines.
The studio fosters a positive, friendly environment designed to make students comfortable and help them reach their individuals goals. The establishment has three simple rules: always have fun, don’t judge yourself or anyone else and never give up, according to Thomas.
“Everyone that comes is always welcomed by friendly and amazing ladies and gentleman that have built new friendships and workout,” she said.
Thomas wants clients to come away feeling better about themselves.
“I am hoping they gain confidence,” she said. “Some are there to lose weight, some are there to have something to do and have a good time. I just hope they all leave feeling good about themselves.”
For more information about the fitness center, visit Fit N Dance Shakin’ It with Shelly’s Facebook page or call 567-245-8105.