Anyone can dance
If the Spice Girls epitomised girl power circa 1997, then my vote for the Girl Power mantle in 2018 goes to BH Fitness instructor Emily Watson.
Her BH Dance and Fitness classes involves more than just exercise. These classes are about having fun, building fitness and growing self esteem.
Emily’s tagline says it all really: Be happy. Be healthy. Be you.
And like those perky popstars of 20 years ago, Emily has a loyal tribe of followers who love her energy, her positivity and – yes – her ode to girl power.
Intrigued by Emily’s brand of fitness – she was the winner of Muddy’s best fitness instructor 2017 – it seemed only right that I go along and check it out for myself. While Emily offers various types of BH classes – from BH Dance to BH Combat – it was the Dance and Strutology classes that I’d heard the most about, so on a cold dark Tuesday night I took myself (and a mate) off to Emily’s BH Dance and Strutology classes in Oxted.
But let’s start with a full disclosure. I’m not really one for aerobics-type fitness classes. I’ve never been to a Zumba class. Ever. And whilst I admire Jane Fonda for her political activism, I’ve never really subscribed to her boppy style of get-fit programme.
I’ve done mud runs and obstacle course races, so I didn’t expect BH Fitness to be quite my thing. Hands up, though, I was wrong.
Because, I love music. And I love to dance. And Emily has a style and sass that is infectious. Oh, and she’s one very charismatic lady. She’s turned exercise into a big dance party. (Sadly though, without the booze.)
Like a typical exercise class, there’s a warm up and a cool down, and a bit in the middle where you work a bit harder. Emily struts it out on the stage, with whoops and wahoos – which are echoed by her class. She gives shouts of encouragement, advice on how to work harder or tone it down if the pace is too much.
The moves are linked, and yet also quite free flowing. Think Beyoncé crossed with one of the Strictly pros. Emily appears to have a background in dance training – there are elements of salsa, samba, jive and swing – but it turns out she’s just a gal with incredible rhythm.
Me? It turns out I have no rhythm at all unless I’m two G&Ts in. But it doesn’t matter, because actually, the entire class is doing their own thing – and no one gives two hoots whether my right foot went out when my left foot was supposed to, or vice versa.
Before BH Fitness, Emily was a psychologist in the prison services which is perhaps why she’s so brilliant at making her class feel good about themselves. And let’s make no mistake, that’s exactly what she’s doing.
This is a class that empowers women to be themselves. But more than that, it encourages women to like themselves, to like their bodies. Dare I say it, even love their bodies.
Her Strutology class takes these sentiments a little further. The class involves learning a series of simple dance moves – a choreographed piece, if you like – and then performing it towards the end of the class. Emily suggested I bring heels for that part. It’s not compulsory, she said, but it’s a fun thing to do.
I was surprised when the whole class changed into heels. Strutology is less intense fitness wise, that the BH Dance class. But it’s incredibly motivational. And it’s fun. There’s a strut-off, where the class struts across the room. Sassy. Confident. Positive. Self-assured.
And that, I’ve discovered, is the secret to Emily Watson’s classes. She’ll do more in an hour than just make you sweat. (Although she’ll do that too!) But she’ll make you feel good. She’ll help you feel healthy. And she’ll help you be you.
Emily Watson teaches BH Dance, BH Combat, Strutology, BH Bootcamp, BH Personal Training and BH Kidz at various venues in Godstone, Oxted and Caterham. emilybunnyhop.com