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Originally published Friday, October 11, 2013 at 11:13 AM

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Twist and shout your way to fitness with BaDi

The founders are trained in Nia, but BaDi includes a little more edge, including a playlist with hip-hop and Tabata-style core work.

Special to The Seattle Times


Dance Underground

340 15th Ave. E., Seattle


AS WE SKIPPED and spun across the floor and people whooped and hollered, I contemplated whether I should hoot and holler, too. They made it seem fun.

It would be a big step. I do not whoop while working out. I also don’t meet many people having this much fun while sweating buckets.

I was at a BaDi class. It’s a style of dance similar to Nia, which combines martial arts, healing arts and several styles of dance choreographed to positive songs that frequently revolve around freedom, happiness and other uplifting themes.

The founders of BaDi, Barb Duff and Dina Innominato, are trained in Nia, and the choreography of a BaDi class feels a lot like Nia. But they created BaDi as their own style evolved to include a little more edge, including a playlist with hip-hop and some Tabata-style core work thrown into the mix.

I went to BaDi Blast, which incorporates more interval training and toning work. We started with some easy dance moves to warm up, then Duff added more steps and choreography. It was never hard to keep up, even if my shoulders don’t really shimmy.

The classes feature relatively straightforward Nia-style choreography, including some Latin dance. For the second half of class, Duff moved into songs like Justin Timberlake’s “Let the Groove Get In” and “No Diggity” by Blackstreet and Dr. Dre.

She instructed us to pick up our feet and focus on footwork before adding in arms. There were clearly a lot of experienced BaDi practitioners in the packed class, and their creative add-ons inspired me to do more arm and leg flourishes.

The regulars also were having fun from the get-go, laughing and shouting as they went. Their enthusiasm was contagious; I had to smile.

We also moved vigorously enough to work up a decent sweat. We did salsa, we did squats; during one dance we were released to run around the room.

It felt early on like we were mainly burning off excess energy, but later, we added some more intense work, like deep lunges, arm work and some shoulder pulses.

We finished with the Tabata-style core work — 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for eight rounds. As soon as Information Society’s “What’s on Your Mind (Pure Energy)” came on, I found myself singing along. Out loud.

BaDi is accessible. It’s low-impact, and it’s easy for anyone to modify. It’s also way more fun than I ever thought I would have. Do it and shout, whoop or sing along.

Nicole Tsong teaches yoga at studios around Seattle. Read her blog at Email: Benjamin Benschneider is a Pacific NW magazine staff photographer.