WHEN YOU hear ‘a yahsuh nice’, some might be con­fused while oth­ers know that what is to come is a lot of thrill and ex­cite­ment. But what does this have to do with fit­ness? Run­ning has al­ways been recog­nised as the best form of car­dio. Aer­o­bics class is its suit­able al­ter­na­tive, but many have found these ac­tiv­i­ties to be not only mun­dane but ar­chaic. Keep­ing up with the trends of move­ment, Chai Stu­dios has de­cided to stay ahead of the fit­ness game by of­fer­ing fun classes like pole danc­ing and Zumba. Ac­cord­ing to Chai Stu­dio’s owner Shani McGra­ham-Shirley, the aim of open­ing the fit­ness cen­tre with busi­ness part­ner Zoe Arscott five and a half years ago was to pro­vide in­ter­est­ing and fun classes for women. “At the time, I was the only Zumba in­struc­tor in Ja­maica. So, af­ter re­al­is­ing I was ‘too pop down’ teach­ing four classes ev­ery day all over Kingston, it was time to have a base. Zoe and I de­cided to of­fer all the classes we found fun and in­ter­est­ing at our stu­dio, Chai Stu­dios Lim­ited. We needed work­outs that got the job done, but also kept us in­ter­ested and, most im­por­tant, were fun. So we fig­ured, if we felt that way, other women prob­a­bly did also. Chai of­fers a wide ar­ray of dif­fer­ent styled classes, but two of the most

pop­u­lar were zumba and pole danc­ing,” she ex­plained to Flair.

She re­alised that her Zumba classes were so in­tense that they could burn the same or even more calo­ries than run­ning or spin­ning, but they were far more ex­cit­ing. Pole danc­ing pre­sented the ‘shock value’, as she puts it, for they are the only es­tab­lish­ment who ac­tu­ally in­vested and teaches pole-danc­ing classes reg­u­larly.


“Now, we knew pole wouldn’t be for every­one, but we knew our clients yearned for some­thing dif­fer­ent. Pole is one of the most chal­leng­ing and strength-build­ing ex­er­cises. I’m not talk­ing about stand­ing be­side the pole and shak­ing your der­riere. I’m talk­ing about ac­tu­ally do­ing tricks and lift­ing your own body weight. Pole fit­ness is like bal­let, gym­nas­tics and pi­lates all on ‘crack’. It’s an in­sanely awe­some work­out. And the added bonus is that you to­tally feel sexy af­ter,” she added.


Over time, when it came to Zumba, clients were tired of the Latin feel and wanted to work out to mu­sic that was closer to home. That’s when af­ter seven years of in­struct­ing Zumba, McGra­hamShirley jumps out­side of the box by cre­at­ing her very own style of dance car­dio, which she likes to call YAHSUH. “My clients kept ask­ing me to play the dance­hall and soca rou­tines more of­ten than the Latin rou­tines. So my playlist started to nat­u­rally move fur­ther away from ‘au­then­tic Zumba’, although it was still called Zumba. It felt like false ad­ver­tis­ing,” she said with a laugh.

For­eign­ers would at­tend her ‘Zumba’ classes and mar­vel at the fact that they had never ex­pe­ri­enced Zumba quite like her class. Her classes in­cor­po­rated more ad­vanced Zumba moves, com­bined with a lot of floor work to Caribbean mu­sic. So be­ing true to what her classes were known for, ‘a yahsuh nice’, she branded her per­son­alised classes by call­ing them YAHSUH. YAHSUH, she re­veals, is a dance-aer­o­bics class which fuses dance and fit­ness such as ply­o­met­rics, all to Ja­maican mu­sic pri­mar­ily. The re­cep­tion to her in­no­va­tive ap­proach to fit­ness has been over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive. “My clients at Chai love our classes. I have clients who for one en­tire year be­fore I opened my own space fol­lowed me from gym to gym. These classes are like a drug. You get hooked and have to get your fix. Luck­ily, it’s a healthy ad­dic­tion,” she shared.

The ben­e­fits of both, she said, are phe­nom­e­nal, “Zumba and YAHSUH are high-in­ten­sity car­dio ses­sions where you burn max­i­mum calo­ries. YAHSUH burns even more due to the ‘high and low’ move­ments. You go on to the floor while danc­ing, for ex­am­ple, do­ing a ‘Shani Push up’ win­ing your waist­line, while push­ing up.” Pole, she ex­plained, on the other hand, is min­i­mal car­dio but max­i­mum burn with ton­ing. It’s strength train­ing, which pro­motes long, lean mus­cles ver­sus bulk­ing, which can be achieved us­ing heavy weights.

“I would never say Zumba, YAHSUH, or pole fit­ness is for every­one, but it’s for a lot of dif­fer­ent types of per­sons. At the end of the day, per­sons should en­joy their work­out and look for­ward to each and ev­ery ses­sion ver­sus dread­ing the gym. They need to find some­thing they love,” McGra­ham-Shirley as­serted.

As far as ex­pec­ta­tions go, per­sons in­ter­ested in at­tend­ing pole danc­ing, Zumba and/or YAHSUH can ex­pect to get a ‘feel good class’ and see re­sults in as quickly as ap­prox­i­mately one month. Many are of­ten shocked by this, but the proof is in the re­sults. With Zumba and YAHSUH, in par­tic­u­lar, she re­vealed that clients are sur­prised at how quickly they lose weight, while with pole danc­ing, they are shocked at how quickly their bodies start to change and be­gin ton­ing in no time.

So, are you ready to lose some weight and have fun while do­ing it? Well, what are you wait­ing for? Join the Chai move­ment to­day!

For more in­for­ma­tion, you can check them out on Face­book: Chai Stu­dios and on In­sta­gram: @chais­tu­diosja


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