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'Dancing With The Stars' pros' local fitness and dance classes

July 22, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The new season of "Dancing With The Stars" is still a couple of months away, but the pros are still burning up the dance floor. And you can join in.

Dancing eight of 12 seasons of "Dancing with the Stars," Louis Van Amstel stays fit off season with LaBlast, a dance fitness program he created "based on every dance form you can imagine."

"I still enjoy going here every day because it's regular people and often times they think they can't dance or they're struggling with personal issues in their lives, and somehow this dance class gives them the fun in life to keep going," said Van Amstel.

The program features ballroom, cha cha, merengue, disco and more, plus he added weights to the workout to tone up the toe tappers, helping people like Leah Saffian get through knee surgery.

"You find in the first hour you've learned three dances: salsa, jive, and cha cha. And it only took about that first hour and I was hooked," said Saffian.

Using brain as well as body, LaBlast is now a worldwide program. It's offered in studios as well as Crunch Fitness nationwide. There's even teacher certification sanctioned by the American Council on Exercise.

"I was told by my mentor by 25 it's going downhill as a dancer," said Van Amstel. "I'm now 39 and I still feel I'm better now than when I was competing."

Karina Smirnoff, another dancer with little downtime, opened Karina Smirnoff Dance Studio in Woodland Hills when Season 12 ended, delighting local fans.

"It's a way to really enjoy yourself. Dancing gives you that happy endorphin, that you work out and you feel like you're on cloud nine," said Smirnoff.

"Before my wife dragged me to a tango lesson, I was a hockey player, a golfer ... I still do those things but, you know, this is great stuff. You're dancing with women, how bad can it be?" said Woodland Hills resident, Doug Keenen.

For those of you who don't have or want a partner, Smirnoff also has a dance fitness class and an exercise DVD.

"I have a guy that did my DVD for about five weeks in Canada, he's a firefighter and he lost almost 60 pounds," she said.


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