Is this the funnest workout in L.A.? Sweat like a dancer in Derrick Garcia’s rhythmic exercise class

I can’t imagine there’s a workout in L.A. that’s any more fun than Derrick Garcia’s Make Me Sweat class at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, a dance school that also has fitness classes. And that’s true whether or not you can dance, and even though as a klutz it was no easy feat to figure out the moves. As the wildly ebullient Garcia puts it: “Dance with me on beat or off beat.” Either way, sweating is not optional.

Our class of eight women was a jumble of rhythmic abilities, body types and ages. I’m not sure I have an inner Beyoncé, but if I did, I could channel her here.

Debbie Allen Dance Academy, 3791 Santa Rosalia Drive,



Garcia, a dancer who has worked with fitness guru Richard Simmons, put it this way: “I want to create a space where people can come and feel uplifted and know they are working out ... motivated by the music and by my energy.” He has enough energy to qualify as a power source. Also, it’s fun to be working out in a dance school, where there are fliers for ballet performances and a few preteen students came in at the end to join in Garcia’s class.


It’s hard work in a different way than many sports-like classes. We moved, and fast, throughout each song and got a few seconds break when Garcia switched the music. Hip-hop, merengue and Bollywood were among the styles. Sort of like high-intensity workouts with a dance beat and using just your body. But, as Garcia says, “the mission is to sweat,” and sweat we did.



Beyond supportive. Garcia’s own moves are incredible, but your own? Not important. Just move. And smile. He makes eye contact or goofy faces during class in an effort to bring smiles to students’ faces. It’s a 180-degree turn from the usual grimaces. At the end, we held hands in a circle for a few seconds of affirmations.


$10 per class

Please email me, or contact me on Twitter @mmacvean, if you have ideas for classes I should try.


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