BU Today

Campus Life

A Cardio Class Act

Dance to Britney, for credit


In the slide show above, Jossie Coleman teaches her Cardio-Jazz Funk class how to have fun and work out at the same time. Photos by Kalman Zabarsky

They jump. They stomp. They flex and bop. At a party, they’d be the dancing kings and queens everyone circles to watch.

Sliding on the black floors of the BU Dance Theater at FitRec, a dance class 40 members strong is led by instructor Jossie Coleman, whose snappy choreography motivates even those with two left feet.

Each semester, Cardio-Jazz Funk fills up as quickly as spots open. Coleman attributes her classes’ popularity to students’ rapid transformation from bystanders to swaggerers.

“At the beginning of the semester everyone is shy, but by the end they are completely different people,” she says. “There is a performance at the end where they get to invite their roommates and friends.”

Coleman’s dizzying routines combine hip-hop and club moves. “Get those beer bellies out there!” she shouts to students learning to do a body wave. “Come on, stomp out that cigarette!” as students twist their hips and grind their toes into the floor.

The word “cardio” is vital to the class description. With arms that could make Michelle Obama jealous, Coleman still breaks a sweat by class end, even after 15 years of teaching dance at BU.

Students walk (or hobble) out the double doors at the end of each class with tightened abs and sore legs. Coleman is living proof that the fountain of youth just may exist.

“She told us her age: 41, and I said, ‘You are lying,’” says Carla Donaghey (CFA’10). “I decided to take the class because I wanted to get a workout and not feel like I was working out.” A class where she could learn to dance to Britney Spears for college credit appealed to her.

All the dances are choreographed by Coleman. Inspiration can hit listening to music in the car or at night before bed, she says, so she keeps a notebook close.

“Some people learn by sound, others learn by seeing. I try to accommodate how everyone learns,” she says.

Coleman’s class mixes all levels and abilities. Some students bounce on beat like contestants on America’s Best Dance Crew, while others flail and stumble. Donaghey says the first day of class she had to take a break to catch her breath.

“It’s a little intimidating but there are also kids worse off than I am,” she says. “Coleman is really good at explaining things and making you feel better even if you are falling over yourself.”

No matter the skill level, for anyone who takes the class, the end result is the same: one slammin’ workout.

Jossie Coleman teaches Cardio-Jazz Funk and Hip-Hop PDP classes as well as a noncredit Cardio-Jazz Funk class open to students, faculty, staff, and the public. To watch her class performances, e-mail her at jossiecoleman@verizon.net.

Anna Webster can be reached at annaweb@bu.edu.


4 Comments on A Cardio Class Act

  • Hip Hop Dancer on 03.02.2010 at 2:10 am

    Hip Hip

    “With arms that could make Michelle Obama jealous”

    Amazing text.

    “one slammin’ workout”


  • Anonymous on 03.02.2010 at 8:53 am

    Cardio-Jazz Funk Class

    Great article! Nice to see BU students moving and sweating and smiling in addition to studying! Does Jossie teach in Los Angeles? Where can I sign up?

  • Anonymous on 03.02.2010 at 4:18 pm

    cardio class

    the pictures prove its a popular class!

  • Anonymous on 03.03.2010 at 11:38 pm

    Next time pay more attention...

    Jossie never said, says or will ever say “Get those beer bellies out there”! After having taken Jossie’s class for two semesters now, i know she’s a brilliant teacher and her classes are huge confidence boosters. The dances are fun and exciting “with bite” (as Jossie SAYS), with no room for beer belly talk. I don’t think “Dancing to Britney for Credit” should have been the title of this article as that’s certainly not what the class is….

Post Your Comment

(never shown)