Tue | Jul 17, 2018

YAHSUH Nice with Chai Studios

Published:Monday | June 19, 2017 | 12:00 AMKrysta Anderson
Shani McGraham-Shirley, co-owner / operations director, Chai Studios Ltd.
Shani McGraham-Shirley, co-owner / operations director, Chai Studios Ltd.
Shani McGraham-Shirley, co-owner / operations director, Chai Studios Ltd.
Shani McGraham-Shirley, co-owner / operations director, Chai Studios Ltd.
Shani McGraham-Shirley, co-owner / operations director, Chai Studios Ltd.
Shani McGraham-Shirley, co-owner / operations director, Chai Studios Ltd.

When you hear 'a yahsuh nice', some might be confused while others know that what is to come is a lot of thrill and excitement. But what does this have to do with fitness?

Running has always been recognised as the best form of cardio. Aerobics class is its suitable alternative, but many have found these activities to be not only mundane but archaic. Keeping up with the trends of movement, Chai Studios has decided to stay ahead of the fitness game by offering fun classes like pole dancing and Zumba.

According to Chai Studio's owner Shani McGraham-Shirley, the aim of opening the fitness centre with business partner Zoe Arscott five and a half years ago, was to provide interesting and fun classes for women. "At the time, I was the only Zumba instructor in Jamaica. So, after realising I was "too pop down" teaching four classes everyday all over Kingston, it was time to have a base. Zoe and I decided to offer all the classes we found fun and interesting at our studio Chai Studios Limited. We needed workouts that got the job done, but also kept us interested and, most important, were fun. So we figured, if we felt that way, other women probably did also. Chai offers a wide array of different styled classes, but two of the most popular were zumba and pole dancing," she explained to Flair.

She realised that her zumba classes were so intense that they could burn the same of even more calories than running or spinning, but they were far more exciting. Pole dancing presented the 'shock value' as she puts it, for they are the only establishment who actually invested and teaches pole-dancing classes regularly.




"Now, we knew pole wouldn't be for everyone, but we knew our clients yearned for something different. Pole is one of the most challenging and strength building exercises. I'm not talking about standing beside the pole and shaking your derriere. I'm talking about actually doing tricks and lifting your own body weight. Pole fitness is like ballet, gymnastics and pilates all on 'crack'. It's an insanely awesome workout. And the added bonus is that you totally feel sexy after," she added.


YAHSUH was born


Over time, when it came to zumba, clients were tired of the Latin feel and wanted to workout to music that was closer to home. That's when after seven years of instructing zumba, McGraham-Shirley jumps outside of the box by creating her very own style of dance cardio, which she likes to call YAHSUH. "My clients kept asking me to play the dancehall and soca routines more often than the Latin routines. So my playlist started to naturally move further away from "authentic zumba", although it was still called zumba. It felt like false advertising," she said with a laugh.

Foreigners would attend her "zumba" classes and marvel at the fact that they had never experienced zumba quite like her class. Her classes incorporated more advanced zumba moves, combined with a lot of floor work to Caribbean music. So being true to what her classes were known for, 'a yahsuh nice', she branded her personalised classes by calling them YAHSUH. YAHSUH, she reveals, is a dance-aerobics class which fuses dance and fitness such as plyometrics, all to Jamaican music primarily. The reception to her innovative approach to fitness has been overwhelmingly positive. "My clients at Chai love our classes. I have clients who for one entire year before I opened my own space, followed me from gym to gym. These classes are like a drug. You get hooked and have to get your fix. Luckily, it's a healthy addiction," she shared.


Workout with benefits


The benefits of both, she said, are phenomenal, "Zumba and YAHSUH are high-intensity cardio sessions where you burn maximum calories. YAHSUH burns even more due to the 'high and low' movements. You go onto the floor while dancing, for example, doing a 'Shani Push up' wining your waistline, while pushing up." Pole, she explained, on the other hand, is minimal cardio but maximum burn with toning. It's strength training, which promotes long, lean muscles versus bulking, which can be achieved using heavy weights.

"I would never say zumba, YAHSUH, or pole fitness is for everyone, but it's for a lot of different types of persons. At the end of the day, persons should enjoy their workout and look forward to each and every session versus dreading the gym. They need to find something they love," McGraham-Shirley asserted.

As far as expectations go, persons interested in attending pole dancing, zumba and/or YAHSUH, can expect to get a "feel good class" and see results in as quickly as approximately one month. Many are often shocked by this, but the proof is in the results. With Zumba and YAHSUH, in particular, she revealed that clients are surprised at how quickly they lose weight, while with pole dancing, they are shocked at how quickly their bodies start to change and begin toning in no time.

So, are you ready to lose some weight and have fun while doing it? Well, what are you waiting for? Join the Chai movement today!

For more information, you can check them out on Facebook: Chai Studios and on Instagram: @chaistudiosja