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  • Writer's pictureSarah

It's not how it looks . . .

I often think of something I'd like to write about, begin to, and then my brain does that thing... like when you're pinterest and too many tabs start going, it gets hard to focus. As soon as I started the title of this post -- which I will stay with my original topic in a moment -- I went to a place of what a perfectionist I can be, but not in all things, and I debated if I should go that route instead, because you will see that that topic is a little bit related. Forward to overwhelming thoughts of why do I want to have a blog, maybe I need to come up with a different structure, etc...... rabbit hole!!

So this "It's not how it looks..." is related to something I've been up to for almost a year now --> OULA! Here's a brief introduction:

There's an amazing person, Kali Lindner, who on her own quest of finding the right balance of what she needed from a workout created her own fitness program. She is from MissOULA, there's the origin of it's name. OULA is a one hour dance fitness class rooted in that "it's not how it looks, IT'S HOW IT FEELS" When I've talked to people about OULA, the immediate relation people make is "like Zumba?" Well, I've not personally taken a Zumba class, but from what I understand, from a non-participant view, yes, they are similar.

How OULA is different is that besides the 16 songs you do during class, that do have choreographed moves, it's what the moves are/how they make you feel. A more current song we've done is Whatever It Takes by Imagine Dragons. The movement that goes "I love how it feels when I break the chains" symbolizes it with taking your hands from close to your heart and throwing them open to the sides. (Each song varies in it's literally connection to the lyrics.) Kali uses the music to create the movement, it's one of the things that really sets this program apart from others.

Something else cool about OULA? It's spreading! There's tribes starting and growing everywhere. And with the program structure asking that instructors include the most recent 10 songs into their 16 song set, you can walk into any class and know what's going on.

How did I get involved in OULA? I wanted to start excerizing and knew I'd only be motivated in a group setting. Most gyms offer OULA but there's a studio here as well to drop-in at or sign up for monthly passes. I took my first class late last October. I obviously didn't know anything then. Which does not matter. Eventually you pick up the moves, they are pretty repetitive, and with at least 10 always being the same, you get there. But all of that doesn't matter because it's how it feels!!

There's the opportunity to feel strong, powerful, sexy, fun, and even vulnerable when you go to dance for that hour. Did you punch with your left arm instead of your right? So what? You felt tough doing it! Have a song lyric that means something to you? Use your voice and shout it! Do you miss your 20 somethings before you had kids and could close down the dance floor at 2? Those hips still shake (and we do a lot of it!) Whatever you need from class is there for you. And if it's different from day to day, that's fine. The hour is yours to take what you need.

I did about 3 weeks of class before deciding I wanted to be an instructor. I must mention that at the time, my husband was working an on-call schedule, so me being able to plan to take a 2 day training seemed a little impossible. But he could tell in that short time already how much OULA was meaning to me. We have some great friends that came to watch the kids for us, not knowing until the day before when we would need them. I enjoyed my training weekend so much more knowing that I was supported by him and our friends.

So -- OULA training weekend! Even though I had intentions of doing whatever was part of the plan to become an instructor, you don't have to attend a training with that as your goal. There's even just the option now to do the first day of training to immerse yourself a little more into all the why's/what's/how's of OULA. It was a great weekend to be brave. We had only been in Missoula a couple months and I went to training knowing NO ONE. Everyone there shared their soul in someway and I feel like our group was extra special :)

Post training you're given 3 months to complete the instructor program, all done at your own pace. I was allowed to teach a few songs in classes I would attend to get the feel of a class, had access to mentors to help with playlists.....sooooooo much support. I don't have knowledge of any other fitness program training, but OULA is done well!! I held my certification class in February, which I filmed and submitted to a review team, who are very thoughtful and loving in their feedback. Then, ta-da -- OULA INSTRUCTOR!!

Being in MissOULA, where it all started, I felt like I would have some trouble finding a place to teach, that maybe it would already be too saturated with instructors. I even wished a little bit that I had been from a place without OULA so I could bring it back and begin a little tribe there (which I know would have it's own challenges). I was fortunate to experience some great timing with a group looking to expand their employee wellness program right around the time I was holding free practice classes. After I got certified it turned into a paid gig once a week. I've since found a gym that was in need of a sub, which has been pretty often through the summer. There's other formats within OULA as well. There's Oula-Power class, that's a little more traditional exercise/conditioning with your own body weight -- both in an 45 minute and 30 minute express length. If you need something more gentle for yourself, Oula.One is a yoga fusion class all done on a mat. Even Jr Oula for the kids!

I'm thankful to have found this community of people. Kali recently spoke at a conference about "bringing your humanness" --- it's meaningful connections that allow us to grow and find success. OULA's given me the space to reclaim, or more appropriately reshape areas of my life (before kids, relocation, etc) in a way I wasn't necessarily looking for but needed.

You might not think a dance fitness class is your thing, but I would love for you to try it -- not just once, give yourself 5-7 classes to let yourself discover what it's all about. You may surprise yourself in a way you weren't ready for! Check out for information on class locations near you or to try a class online.

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