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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Floor Polish brings fun in fitness

Carmen Valencia

Marina Cornelius instructs her yoga class at Floor Polish in Tucson, Arizona on Jan. 25. Yoga is only one of the types of exercise the studio offers weekly.

Tucked away behind the hustle and bustle of Fourth Avenue sits a one-room dance studio. The place is right off of Hoff Street, which is more of an alleyway than a street. A painted wooden sign directs patrons to the studio known as Floor Polish.

From Zumba to Jazzercise, dance fitness has become immensely popular over the last five years or so. Floor Polish is an independent studio bringing this fun activity to the Tucson community.

Marina Cornelius, the owner of Floor Polish, has been a dance teacher and Zumba instructor for several years. She created her own class, Cardio Party-o, and was renting out studio spaces around town to teach in but lost one of her spots early last spring. 

”It taught me how much I was really loving it and how I wanted to make dancing a bigger part of my life,” Cornelius said.

RELATED: De-stress with help from these 4 local yoga studios

She began reaching out to other dance and fitness teachers in Tucson to see if they would be interested in teaching a class at her proposed studio and formed a group of enthusiastic instructors. Cornelius found the space in March of 2016, and within a month, the space had been transformed into Floor Polish and was open for business.

An incredible form of exercise at almost any level, most forms of dance require participants to use their entire bodies throughout routines. It’s great cardio, helps with flexibility, stamina and can be a wonderful creative outlet and stress-relieving activity.

With all of these benefits, it’s no wonder Floor Polish quickly became a staple for many students looking for a way to stay active. The studio has various weekly classes for participants to choose from that cover all kinds of interesting and often uncommon types of dance, each with their own specific health benefits.

On Mondays and Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m., a professional burlesque performer teaches Burlesque Fitness to improve participants’ strength, flexibility and confidence. Mondays at 5:45 p.m. and Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. are PiYo time, which is a combination of Pilates and yoga that makes for an intense low-impact workout. There’s even a Hip Hop Yoga class on Saturday mornings at 11:30 a.m.

“Floor Polish is really quirky,” said Olivia Avanzato, the teacher of Solo Salsa on Saturday nights. Avanzato taught salsa, jazz and tap in New York before coming to Tucson.

Floor Polish instructors teach 12 weekly classes of all styles. There are also a handful of specialized classes taught by teachers outside of the main studio group, so there’s something for everyone. Throughout February, Cornelius said there will be more classes added to the schedule as well.

While each class and style has a different intensity level, there is no requirement for any sort of prior dance experience. Dancers of all skill levels, ages and abilities can participate in every class offered at the studio and be comfortable doing whatever they enjoy.

RELATED: Group fitness is changing the way that Wildcats work out

“I get a lot of beginners for my class that have never danced before,” Avanzato said. “Especially young people that just want to move and maybe haven’t taken formal training; it’s fun for them because it’s not competitive or scary or anything.”

Nadia Stefanik, a manager at the Tucson Visitor’s Center, has repeatedly attended Avanzato’s solo salsa class and has been to some other special events at Floor Polish. Although she danced when she was younger, she said she didn’t have much experience in salsa.

“I think all of the classes here are really open to anyone coming and trying it out,” Stefanik said. “There’s some other dance studios or places where if you’re not a dancer you feel out of place, but here everyone belongs.”

Nadia brought her mother, Lenore Stefanik, to Solo Salsa while she was visiting, and Lenore said she enjoyed the class as well, despite not having danced for a long time.

“I’m amazed that I could do it because I’ve never done salsa before,” Lenore Stefanik said. “I feel like I came out actually knowing some basic steps.”

The classes are affordable for people trying to get fit on a budget. At only $6 per class (or $25 for 5 classes), a participant who has never danced before doesn’t have to spend lots of money to find out if they enjoy a class. There’s also no special dance attire needed. Comfortable clothes and sneakers are the only recommendations and mats are provided for classes that use them.

Cornelius encourages anyone who’s ever been interested in dance to try out a class at Floor Polish and is thrilled with the number of people she has been able to connect with already.

”I didn’t realize how many people I would feel are being helped and growing and having a really happy experience,” she said.  “I do see that fitness can be an art form now.”

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