Carefree, crop-topped, posing with her squad like she was ready to slay all day—every time Atlanta dance instructor Mikayla McGee popped up on my feed, I was struck with a serious case of Instagram Envy. Or FOMO. Or whatever you call it when you find yourself coveting the life someone else presents in social media photos. Surely her dance fitness class couldn’t be as cool and fun as it looked in the pictures, right?
Curious, I did some more snooping and found out McGee teaches the Vixen Workout at the Atlanta Dance & Music Academy on Plasters Avenue. It’s part of a nationwide, hip-hop cardio program with moves inspired by music video choreography and what you might see in a Miami nightclub. It’s like Zumba in that the routines are accessible, repetitive, and taught at a slower pace than you’d experience at a traditional dance studio. But Vixen markets a much cooler, sexier vibe, with lots of hair whips, twerking, and catwalk struts.
Above video: Mikayla (third from left) and one of her dance classes show off their moves.
Looking at the photos and videos on Vixen Workout’s corporate website, my FOMO grew. These ladies looked like the Pussycat Dolls! They were killing it on the dancefloor! And supposedly burning between 600 and 1,000 calories in one hour! If only I could be so fierce.
Eventually I decided to stop lurking and lamenting and sign up. I’ve taken hip-hop dance off and on since I was a kid at summer camp, but I’m no Beyoncé. I can execute a decent body roll, but my walk? It’s not cute (too much arms, not enough hips). I can’t catch on to choreography like I used to. I get mixed up with direction while my eyes toggle between the mirror and the instructor. And I cannot twerk, hard as I try. (And I do try—how do you get your butt to pop out without it looking like a muscle spasm? I long to know.) So I was a little bit concerned that I was going to go in there, clomp around, and get dishonorably discharged from the Vixen Army.
But my fears were unfounded. Though the class was not quite as ferocious and sexy as what I’d seen on the website or even in some of McGee’s photos, it was still some of the most fun I’ve ever had while doing cardio. The lights were kept very low, which kept everyone’s self-consciousness in check, and McGee constantly reminded us what the Vixen workout was not about. It was not about embarrassment, or envy, or competition. It wasn’t even about accuracy; she encouraged students to stray from the choreography whenever they felt like it. The Vixen class was about feeling good about yourself —just getting out there and sweating and letting go. And that’s what I did.
It wasn’t as flashy or as slick as what I’d seen online. I didn’t booty pop like a pro or look really hot when we posed for a picture after class. But it turns out the reality was even better than what I’d coveted. It was empowering.