Louis van Amstel is best known as a three-time world dance champion, an Emmy-nominated choreographer, and a nine-time Dancing with the Stars professional. Van Amstel recently partnered with leaders in the fitness world to expand his new LaBlast program domestically and internationally, premiering at IDEA World Fitness Convention in 2011 after great success across Europe. LaBlast has grown to over 250 global instructors in the past two years and in 2014 will be represented at all SCW Manias, hosting world-wide instructor trainings, and leading master classes at major ballroom competitions for participants and audiences alike.
What are major transitions you have encountered moving from competitive ballroom dance to media, and now the fitness industry?
Joining television was similar to watching Olympic gymnasts and figure skaters in sports who become instant household names. You can become the best in the ballroom world and the audience is still a bubble, then ABC allowed ballroom champions to reach 25 million mainstream Americans. The exposure was huge and instantaneous.
Since creating LaBlast and joining the fitness industry, I witness people daily treasuring and appreciating their bodies. Dance fitness is a much easier way for people to get healthier by having fun and decreases the emotional eating many overstressed and depressed people are experiencing. I love a workout in disguise!
As the creator of LaBlast Fitness and ballroom expert, what qualities separate LaBlast from other dance fitness programs?
LaBlast Fitness is a double whammy: it is the perfect mix of fitness but maintains the skill of learning dance. Similar to others, LaBlast is a global, all ages and abilities program done anywhere in your casual clothes and low-tread sneakers. However, LaBlast teaches actual dances like Lindy Hop, Quick Step, Samba; most other dance fitness formats teach only dance movements.
Live LaBlast classes are taught to the public’s favorite music of all genres: real music by real artists catered to requests from the Dancing with the Stars
fans and students. Class is taught partner-free but you could always have your partner start on the opposite foot and dance together, perfect for individuals or couples.
Cha Cha, Salsa, Merengue, Jive: these are all well-known ballroom formats taught in LaBlast. How did you decide to include Disco and Hip Hop Salsa?
The key is accessibility. Our class design makes authentic dances easy so anyone can and will want to do it. All ballroom dances have cardiovascular and muscular endurance aspects, even muscle toning when weights are added, but our dance selections also have a long heritage. Historically popular, super-fun styles were added because they represent the best eras of dance: Hustle, Disco, or West Coast Swing.
What is your vision ten years from now?
My vision of “changing the world so obesity is no longer” is a HUGE goal, but I see the whole world dancing it away, all youth participating in dance, lots of people dancing for whatever reason. Dance allows people to become more social, brings romance back to loving families, generates fun flash mobs, and brings countries together: these are all high on my list.
Which cause other than obesity is most meaningful to you?
All types of cancer. My coach and best friend battled the disease for two years and won before it reappeared in her liver. She died young at age 34 just prior to our world ballroom competition in 1994... Dancing does not solve cancer but it makes the experience more emotionally bearable. I hear many testimonials of women who felt they may as well be men after breast cancer mastectomies but LaBlast brought their femininity back from the inside out. Their stories are incredibly empowering.
What is the interview question you have never been asked but always wished to share the answer to?
Do I match my TV typecast persona? The answer is No! Because of DWTS I’m viewed as serious and intimidating: having determination, will power, and passion to become a champion, being the only one doing what I do, finding a niche, working harder than everyone else. But people that come to my class learn I say what everyone thinks, I hear whispers “Did he really just say that?” when I am playfully sarcastic. I am very much a people-person and have great fun drawing out the best in others.
But seriously: if you put your mind to something DO NOT listen to too many people saying you can’t, you can’t, you can’t, because YOU CAN. Become a champion regardless.
For more information on LaBlast, please visit www.lablastfitness.com.
You can follow Louis Van Amstel and LaBlast Fitness on the Official Twitter and Facebook pages.
To schedule a LaBlast Training or Master Class in your area, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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