Fusion fitness franchise growing in Grass Valley
Fusion Dance Fitness
Center of Movement
107 West Main St., Suite C, Grass Valley
Facebook: Fusion Dance Fitness
Tuesdays: 4:30 p.m.
Thursdays: 5:30 p.m.
Beginning in February: Every second and fourth Saturday at 9:30 a.m.
As long as she can remember, Dawn Ryley has loved to dance. She grew up taking a broad variety of Nevada County dance classes, then went on to teach. But as she got older, she was drawn to the idea of bringing more fitness moves into choreographed routines. She earned her certification for several dance fitness franchises, but always felt restricted by their format.
“I’m a music lover, I love all genres and I love all styles of dance,” she said. “I wanted to incorporate all of that into my routines — everything from hip hop to ballroom. I wanted something broader, something unique.”
As a result, Ryley — armed with her fitness instructor certification — decided to take a leap of faith and venture out on her own.
“Everyone told me it would never work,” she said. “At first I didn’t even have a name attached to it. But I thought I’d give it a try, and if it didn’t work, so be it.”
In April 2011, Ryley launched her dance fitness class, “Fusion,” and never looked back. Classes quickly filled up as students were drawn to Ryley’s unique marriage of dance with athleticism, which works every muscle group, yet is designed for all levels.
Fusion includes weights and resistance training in a small group setting, currently located at Center of Movement, 107 West Main St., Suite C, in downtown Grass Valley.
Choreography is original and features all genres of music and dance styles. Classes are designed to allow the instructor to give every student individualized attention. No monthly membership is required, and classes are just $7.
“I wanted the class to create strong women — I wanted them to feel strong inside and out,” said Ryley. “Sometimes dance will do that, but I felt that we also needed weight-bearing exercises. The goal is to build lean muscle, focusing on form and isometrics. I adjust workouts for people’s injuries and educate women on how each move will benefit them. Some have described it as a fun, serious workout that doesn’t feel like exercise.”
“I don’t know anyone like Dawn, with her unique approach,” said student Susan Oates, who has been loyally taking Fusion classes for the past five years.
“It’s always fun and never boring — she breaks down each move to make sure you’re doing it right. I’ve brought in friends who talk about how fun it is. It’s like dancing in your kitchen to all these great songs.”
Due to the overwhelming popularity of Ryley’s classes, Fusion class offerings have now expanded thanks to the addition of Soozie Yearwood, a fitness instructor certified by the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America and the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
“Soozie and I worked together for a couple of months and have been collaborating on choreography — we connect well and share the same vision,” said Ryley. “She started her first class a couple of months ago and students have been very complimentary.”
Although Yearwood has had years of experience teaching fitness classes, such as Pilates, yoga, Zumba and PiYo, she says she’s never seen anything quite like Fusion.
“It’s unique — it’s athletic and challenging,” she said. “We’re both so passionate about this and dorky — we’ll take a couple of hours to choreograph a song. We want everyone in the room to feel comfortable and only compete with themselves. The music and the moves just make the hour fly by.”
Ryley says she’s excited about bringing Fusion to other studios and she’s working on a certification program where interested instructors can study under her.
“The most rewarding part about Fusion is connecting with students on a different level and being a part of the fitness journey they’re on, whether they’ve never worked out before or have been working out for years,” she said.
“The women are very supportive of one another. I love watching their strength and confidence grow over time. Fusion really is fun, you laugh a lot. You generally don’t find a high level of fun when it comes to fitness — we’re unique that way.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.
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