It’s jazz hands at the ready as Broadway Boogie sashays into the county courtesy of leading lady and fitness instructor Charlie Mann, founder of CLM Fitness.

This is a new kind of class, inspired by Broadway and musical theatre, where participants get to work out to their favourite show tunes. Class-goers can boogie 45 minutes away to showbiz set lists typically comprising of songs from Mamma Mia, Hairspray, Six, Chicago and Annie. Boasting a wide range of show-stoppers, it appeals to a wide variety of ages and levels of fitness.

“It’s fitness but you don’t feel like you’re working out, and that’s what I love about it,” says Charlie, 24. “You can dance and sing along and there’s no pressure to learn the steps as long as you’re smiling and having fun.”

The classes, held at Toftwood Village Hall in Dereham on Mondays and Queens Hills Community Centre in Costessey on Thursdays, have gone down a storm. “People absolutely love it,” says Charlie. “They love the musical songs, the fact that we’re a friendly group as well. It goes really quickly too! They like the fact they are songs they know and can sing along to so it doesn’t feel like hard work.”

Hits vary in style and genre, with some of the higher energy songs like You Can’t Stop the Beat from Hairspray providing a good cardio workout, whereas others have more of an acting element, like Master of the House from Les Miserables. “The classes are like a show and performance,” explains Charlie. “It’s good for all abilities because I add options so you can do those as well.”

Already a trained dancer, Charlie, who’s from Weasenham, qualified as a Broadway Boogie instructor during the lockdown of 2020 as she was able to do her training online. The class itself was created by Scotland-based Stephanie Walker, with several instructors now delivering the sessions across the UK. Charlie was recently selected as a choreographer, and has been put in charge of creating steps for some of the tracks.

Charlie has been dancing since she was five, attending classes at her local dance school in Swaffham. Her pursuit of her love of dance saw Charlie study at City College Norwich and the Wilkes Academy in Swindon. But she found the industry to be very tough and competitive, so worked several 9-5 jobs after graduating. It was exercising and instructing that brought back her love of performance and dance.

“I had a dance background, and when I left school I went to dance college and trained in musical theatre,” says Charlie. “I had previously taught Boogie Bounce classes, and when we went into lockdown my classes went online. During that time, I felt that I wanted to broaden my horizons and knowledge so that’s when I became an exercise to music instructor.”

“I love teaching people and being in front of people, so there is that element of presenting. But I also just love the combination of dance and musical theatre, so it’s the best for me.”

In addition to her in-person Broadway Boogie classes, Charlie holds several online sessions, including Jungle Body and Totally Shredded - a combat-style class set to music from the 80s and 90s. The music, Charlie says, can make a huge difference to your workout. “I think music is a massive part of a fitness class. It’s what makes it. For me, it gives me a boost when people sing along. It lifts everyone.

“Even if you don't know the steps, you forget about life outside of the class and for 45 minutes you're the leading role in every song.”

If you can’t make it in time for curtain-up, you can catch Broadway Boogie classes online too as Charlie streams them on Zoom. “Streaming the classes means we have people joining us from all over the UK,” she says. That’s something she’s very much keeping going too, as she reckons there’s still very much the demand out there for online classes.

“Since lockdown, people like to be able to go out, but I think online classes are here to stay,” she says. “There’s still a need for online, especially if you’ve been at work all day and you don’t want to go out again. The fact you can exercise in the comfort of your own home, it means online still has that presence.”

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