Meet MixxedFit

Northwest Mom starts dance fitness revolution

Photos by Rachel Coward

Rose Kemplin of Tacoma lost a close friend to cancer and was struggling to heal the emptiness left in her soul. Jennifer Hunt of Renton had spent the last eight years fighting lingering pregnancy pounds and trying to rediscover the confident woman she knew hid beneath. Wendy Naiman of Kent battled debilitating health issues and the discouragement of weight loss that never seemed to last.

The stories differ, but the conclusions all credit MixxedFit. Insecurities melted away with the pounds as these women danced together in a community that uplifted and encouraged them.

“The MixxedFit family has inspired me to not only dream but to plan on how I will accomplish my dreams,” Naiman says. “At 43 years old, I am healthier and happier than I ever was in my 20s.”

MixxedFit’s welcoming nature transcends the hard floors and cement walls of warehouses, fitness centers and community halls around the Puget Sound and across the nation. The bass line from trendy new hip-hop tunes pulses out into full parking lots, inviting people of all ages, genders, shapes and styles to come together to work out the extra weight of their daily lives. Positive energy greets the so-called “Mixxedfits” at check-in, thanks to staff members who are excited to share their passion for this program-turned-lifestyle. It’s an evolved, dance-induced, people-inspired movement that first began in Dojo 3, a small, family-owned gym in Renton. Three years in the making, this locally produced hip-hop hype has branched out across the Northwest and is taking the fitness world by storm.

20141018_MixxedFit_0235Lori Chung, MixxedFit owner, founder and master educator, spent her pre-MixxedFit days enslaved to a desk and a workload in real estate before she uttered the words “I quit!” That day she traded in her business casuals to chase the American dream in a pair of stretch pants. For Chung, that dream originally took the form of dance aerobics.

Three times a day, Chung would break away from her busy home life as wife and mother of three to move and groove with her students. The time and energy she invested reaped relationships and honest feedback regarding distaste and desire for the class structure. She responded by listening and implementing.

All of a sudden her inbox was flooded with requests for updated music, high-energy moves and muscle-strengthening routines. With customer service in mind and a dancer’s upbringing, the fitness mastermind began tweaking class structure, adding and removing aspects until the concept had become something original and innovative, something contagious, worth dancing for.

Through the transition MixxedFit was born.

“I am constantly researching new music nationwide so that I can create the most perfect routine to the most perfect song,” Chung says. “We also have routines that are inspired by artists from the ’60s,’70s, ’80s and ’90s. My goal is to always connect our students — the people — to the music they hear while they’re out and about. I want my students to learn a routine in class and when that song plays on the radio, they smile ear to ear and inevitably bust out the actual routine while they’re driving, in the middle of the grocery store, at the club, at home or wherever.”

There is magic in a MixxedFit session thanks to a marriage of modern music and manageable routines. Repetitive steps follow a musical formula, meaning that by the end of a number, beginners feel like professionals. The hidden ingredient in this weight-loss fitness success story is tactful incorporation of boot-camp inspired moves for muscle toning. Not only is the result a good time, but it’s also a hard workout.

Mixxedfits leave stress at the door in exchange for an hour of what the team refers to more like “dancing in the club.” The experience produces a heavy dose of endorphins and a revitalized youthfulness. Enter with an open invite into the coolest, most diverse and charismatic clique of the new age, free of judgment and exclusion. Any passerby could just as well hear the beat from the sidewalk and opt to join in. It’s what Tilesa Swehla, MixxedFit chief of marketing, describes as “our family away from our families,” a unit always eager to adopt new members and transform the concept of fitness in people’s minds.

“Workouts don’t have to be grueling to be effective. And whether you are 10 or 100 years old, pink or green, a professional dancer or a professional couch potato, you can step into a MixxedFit class and have a great time.”

20141018_MixxedFit_0070There are no enrollment fees or contracts, so no stress of commitment. All it takes to get involved is a few dollars and willingness for new experiences. Classes cost an average of $5 per session and range in time, location and a slightly varied teaching style based on instructor. So you can find the perfect match for your preferences.

“We don’t feel that one fitness format has to be oppressed for others to flourish,” Swehla says. “We are not trying to replace other dance formats. We respect them all. There is room in the fitness market for everyone.”

Chung consistently refers to her MixxedFit model as “people-inspired.” It’s clearly the winning component in driving her business from a simple start-up company to what is destined to be the next Fortune 500. In its first year, a handful of participants outgrew the walls of her studio with over 1,000 enthusiasts in more than 110 locations nationwide.

As the interest grew, so did the executive team. From the beginning Chung worked training a dozen others as licensed instructors or “master educators” who subsequently would pass their knowledge on to their own students, breeding vitality. The turnover was exponential. These teachings became training workshops and these workshops, called Chung to locations across the country — she’s traveling frequently these days.

MixxedFit’s message has spread like wildfire. “MixxedFit represents diversity, community and compassion,” Chung says. “Our entire organization is not only filled with people of all ages, religions, races and backgrounds, but we are really huge on being very active in our communities. From the executive team to our actual students in classes, compassion will always be found.”

This claim is backed by the smiles and high-five exchanges during sessions. It’s no wonder so many newbies wind up becoming certified instructors. Everyone seems to want a hand in sculpting the MixxedFit brand and spreading its love in their own neighborhoods. It’s a fitness revolution that first grew out of the mouths and minds of ordinary people in an intimate class setting in a cozy studio in the Northwest. Chung, a regular mom and aspiring entrepreneur, grasped opportunity and willed it into being. Today, she happily is giving it back to the people who made it all possible. And boy, can she dance.

Find a MixxedFit class. Learn more about the formula and how to become a certified MixxedFit instructor by registering for a Workshop 101 online.

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