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((305)) Fitness' Sadie Kurzban On Starting a Dance Cardio Craze

Images: R. Lopez

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It's 7 a.m. at BodySmith on 14th Street, and ((305)) Fitness founder Sadie Kurzban has more energy than seems humanly possible. Wearing a ripped-up tanktop that says "Make Sweat Sexy," Kurzban is running all over the room, shouting encouragement, doing jumping jacks, and breaking it down. That's how it is at the Miami-inspired ((305)) Fitness, where a live DJ provides the soundtrack for every 55-minute dance cardio class and you never. stop. moving.

After class, we caught our breath and chatted with Kurzban about why she's bringing some of her best teachers from NYC to start an outpost of ((305)) Fitness in Washington, how she started her company straight out of Brown University, and why having a DJ-fueled class makes perfect sense for millennials. And you can get a taste of what it's like to leave it all on the dance floor at a ((305)) Fitness D.C. class, which will soon feel even more like a nightclub with flashing lights and blackout curtains. Keep in mind these photos were taken before a lot of people have even had their morning cup of coffee yet.

What's the backstory for ((305)) Fitness?
I grew up in Miami. It was a really looks-conscious place. If you've ever been to Miami, you know that. Lots of plastic surgery, it's all about your body image, all about the car you drive. I grew up going to the gym, 13-, 14-year old girl, on the Stairmaster, on the treadmill, really using the gym as a way to purge, just calories in and out. It was just such a lonely, boring, miserable experience.

I think a lot of young women especially feel that way about their body and that way about working out, that it's a chore, it's something they have to check off on their checklist. I started getting into dance a little bit the end of my high school years and loved it. I found it was such a good workout and I started doing that more and more. Instead of the Stairmaster, I started dancing with people in classes and finding that was super fun.

In college, I went home on a spring break trip with my best friend, my ultimate supporter and fan, and we were out at a nightclub in Miami. It was one of those epic nights, lights everywhere, DJ's in the corner, just having the best time of our lives. We looked around, we were drenched in sweat. Everyone around us is drenched in sweat. We wake up the next morning, our legs are sore. It's a good workout. Dance can really be a great workout and it's such a fun setting. We came up with this idea together, to fuse this fun, nightclub experience with fitness.

I started taking entrepreneurship classes in college. I started teaching cardio dance classes there. I grew a following, wrote a business plan, won our business plan competition in college. I took that money to bootstrap it and moved to New York. And I just started teaching one class a week. I found a DJ at a party, I found some other DJs randomly on Craigslist.

It just grew overnight. New York, things spread like crazy. This just happened to be picked up by some really cool girls. They started coming to my classes, and it became so full and sold-out that I physically couldn't teach anymore.

So then I trained instructors, hired more people, and now we've grown to like almost 30 people. 12 instructors and 12 DJs, three full-time people, four part-time people. We just expanded to East Hampton this summer and now we're in D.C. So the plan from here is to expand, go to different cities, spread the word, go to young, fun, vibrant cities like Washington, D.C.

Did you expect it to grow so big so fast?
Yeah. I'm really ambitious, I am. I always have big ideas and big visions. I'm only seeing big things for this company and I think it's going to continue to grow.

How did you pick D.C.?
I picked D.C. because one of my beloved instructors — she had a great following in New York and was selling out every class, her name is Brittney Mooney — she moved back home. She asked if she could teach classes here. I visited and I found it was the youngest city I had ever seen, so many young people, the kind of young women and men who take my classes in New York. And a lot of it is very parallel to New York. You have a lot of these Type-A, super ambitious people, they want to work out really hardcore. They don't want some lame dance class. They want something intense, that they can get in and out in an hour.

The live D.J. you think really adds to the experience.
I do. Part of why that is is because I think, I'm a millennial, we're in the millennial generation. We want everything and we want it now, and we don't want to wait for it. We don't want to be bored. We're in this age of instant gratification. For a lot of us, our lives can be very frustrating. We have to wait at our jobs, we have to wait at home, we have issues, we have roadblocks, we have impasses.

There is no reason why for one hour of a day, you can't just have a blast. That's what the point of this class is. You're never bored. The music's constantly changing, the moves are constantly changing. You can get everything fast and have it right now, and that's part of the appeal is that the songs are constantly changing and you're always literally on your toes.

No two classes feel the same, that's because the DJ is always throwing songs that I don't expect. The instructor has genuine surprise when a great song comes on that I love and I think the room feels that energy too. It's never this stale playlist, where I'm like, "OK guys, the same class we did yesterday, we're going to do today."

Do people expect to get as sweaty as they actually do?
I think that the name "dance" is really misleading for a lot of people. I think that they're expecting something a lot more choreographed and a lot more stopping and starting. A lot of people think, "Oh, I'm not a dancer, I can't do this." I almost want to almost take dance out of the name and just tell people it's a really intense cardio workout. A lot of people don't expect for it to be such a calorie-blasting, insane workout.

What would you say to someone who is new to 305 and nervous?
I would say you don't have to be a great dancer. You don't have to have any experience, it's very easy to follow along. The most important thing is nobody's watching you. Nobody cares. Everyone's thinking about themselves. As long as people can bring positive energy into the room, it's ok. Leave all the insecurities at the door and have a good time.

Do you have men in the class in New York?
We do. We actually had a lot of men in the class yesterday. I'd say it's probably 10% to 20%, not a whole lot, but we definitely have some guys.

What brands do you like for workout clothes?
I love Under Armour Women, they're doing some really badass stuff that's all about being fierce, writing your own rules, it's really about strong female empowerment. I like Nike, I like Lululemon, I like Athleta, I love my Mizuno running sneakers.

What tips would you give someone who wants to make their fitness idea a career, like you did?
I would say to do something that's true to themselves. When I first moved to New York, a lot of people told me, "Go after people with money. Go after older populations. Do something that's about functional movement because that's really trendy right now." And for me, it was really just about having fun and speaking to people who were my age. Even if 25-year-olds don't necessarily have all the money in the world, maybe they'll come a little more often. I would say, if you're looking to start a fitness career, do something that you actually enjoy doing yourself. Because you're going to do have to do it every day of your life.

You're so young! Do you have tips for millennials who want to start a business?
Just do it! Quit your job, don't worry about it, everything will work out.
· 305 Fitness brings its nonstop dance party to D.C. [Express]
· ((305)) Fitness [Official Site]

305 Fitness at BodySmith Gym + Studio

1630 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009