We tried it: The cardio dance workout 305 Fitness
Described as "an addictive cardio party," 305 Fitness is one of New York City's most popular workout classes. Celebrities Miley Cyrus and Hailey Baldwin are fans of 305 Fitness, and NBA star Kevin Durant is an investor. The franchise has quickly expanded into Boston and Washington, D.C., and has a Los Angeles pop-up. This fall, CEO and founder Sadie Kurzban unveiled her third NYC location on the Upper East Side (UES), which features Miami-style art deco interiors. Classes at each location cost from $26 to $34 depending on which format you select.
The origins of 305 Fitness
Though 305 is a dance-based workout, Kurzban does not have any formal training in dance. She studied economics at Brown University.
"Some might say I was a full-time nerd. But, I wanted to work out without watching the clock," said Kurzban. "I started taking and then eventually teaching cardio dance classes. It was so much fun and inclusive. Everyone took the classes -- the academics, the athletes, guys and girls. It was such an exciting place to be."
After visiting her hometown of Miami for spring break, Kurzban decided to put together a business plan for her fitness class concept. "I grew up in Miami and it felt like my own prison instead of a paradise," Kurzban said. "By age 9, I was secretly counting calories in a food diary. My mom and older sister had eating disorders. I named my company 305, the city's area code, as a way to reclaim my power. I was building my own Miami, in another city."
Kurzban entered Brown's annual business plan competition in 2012 and won $25,000 to turn her cardio dance class concept into reality. She designed the class to be 55 minutes long and feature nonstop movement, including 30 minutes of dance, toning, sprints, hip-hop and stretching. "The moves are easy to follow," said Kurzban. "It's the most fun and original workout class out there. You feel like you are in a nightclub, only no booze and no judgments."
The 305 Fitness experience
The first thing I noticed was the live DJ, which Kurzban told me to look out for before attending the class. "Every single class is different -- it's a 55-minute journey into sound," she said. "The DJ chooses all the songs and it's a surprise to the instructor what will play next. It creates an enjoyable and spontaneous experience. No two classes are ever the same."
I got a tip to stand in the middle of the class so I could keep up with my high-energy instructor, Julian, and to see myself in the mirrors at the front of the studio. Unlike other classes, I didn't feel self-conscious at all -- there were a myriad fitness abilities and body types in class. There was also lots of good energy all around.
"At 305, we are helping people shed their shame," said Kurzban. "They can leave their self-consciousness behind and just enjoy an hour of pure unadulterated fun."
Julian wasted no time and got us moving with a warm-up. I didn't think I'd make it through, as I was getting over a cold. But the dance combos were pretty easy and the music was pumping. The music ranged from hits from Migos to Pitbull during the workout and the Backstreet Boys (so #nostalgic!) in the cool-down.
The cardio portion of class featured bursts of high-intensity moves such as high knees, fast feet, shadow boxing and high kicks. The DJ played up-tempo music most of the class and participants were constantly moving -- with a light show going on at the same time. It's an intense cardio workout disguised as a party.
The celeb effect
The high-octane dance workout has caught the attention of a few notables, including Amanda Seyfried and Ashley Olsen. Golden State Warriors forward Durant and famed producer and DJ Tiesto are both investors in 305 Fitness. "We've been inundated with requests from investors, largely because we are really owning the millennial female market," said Kurzban. "As a millennial woman, I've been able to craft a strong voice that's meant for my friends and me. Kevin has never taken a class -- sadly! But he and his [manager] and partner, Rich Kleiman [of Durant Co.], invested in the brand in 2016 through Thirty Five Ventures."
When espnW asked Kleiman about his and Durant's involvement in the cardio dance franchise, he responded via email: "Thirty Five Ventures invested in 305 Fitness in 2016 because Kevin and I were very intrigued by Sadie and her vision for the company. What she and 305 have done in such a short time in the workout space, particularly for millennial women, is very impressive -- having already grown to six locations across four cities. What we try to do as partners is offer them our business insight so they can keep expanding the business in a smart methodology."
The next day
This is a full-body workout and the moves are constantly changing. Unlike a lot of workouts (think cycling, boxing, running) that have repetitive, monotonous moves -- 305 classes keep the body guessing. And even though I stepped into class sniffling and slightly sluggish, I pushed through the workout and felt peppier the next day.
Overall, the experience felt like a fun night on the town opposed to a taxing workout. Bonus, I wore sneakers and not unconformable heels.
Janell M. Hickman is a seasoned fashion/beauty editor and branding consultant based in Brooklyn. She's written for BET Style, The Coveteur, StyleCaster, Teen Vogue, Man Repeller, TODAY Style and Lipstick.com.