By Jackie O’Rourke
Amber Allen has been teaching motivational and calorie-burning fitness classes in the Dance Studio of the William H. Pitt Center at Sacred Heart University for the past nine years.
For a living, Allen teaches dance and fitness classes and does personal training with clients. Before moving to fitness, Allen was a dancer for 24 years. She has traveled all around the world to places like Israel, Thailand and the Caribbean for her career. Allen has also been showcased in a variety of music videos, television shows, and in People Magazine.
“Amber’s energy level is very high, and she brings excitement into the studio, which is important for the fast-paced classes she teaches,” said Liz McGreevy, the Assistant Director of Recreation at the Pitt Center.
“Her energy spreads everywhere and I just think it’s so great to have someone like that teaching a class because it helps boost self-confidence and you just have a lot of fun,” said freshman English major, Grace Sullivan.
Amber teaches a variety of classes at Sacred Heart including Barre, Zumba, and Tabata.
“In a group fitness class, it helps because you’re encouraged by the energy and the people around you,” said Allen.
“I love Barre class because it allows you to focus on the small muscles and to create fatigue through little movements. Overall, the results are amazing, not only does it provide a great stretch and workout, but it allows you to elongate your muscles to achieve a long, lean look,” said sophomore Strategic Communications and Public Relations major Nicola Paerg, who attends Amber’s Barre class weekly.
As defined by Allen herself, “Barre is small, intricate movements that really targets individual muscles. If you want something that’s lower impact and geared towards individual muscle groups, I recommend a Barre class.”
“I like to come to Amber’s classes because there is no motivation for me to just come and do regular work outs and this is a workout where you burn around 500 calories in an hour doing fun things. So, it’s fun exercise,” said senior Health Science major Emily Cummings.
At Sacred Heart, Amber has two high-impact and training classes – her original “30-Minute Madness” on Monday nights and Tabata on Tuesday nights.
“30-Minute Madness changes every week. We do different workout routines to push you to the limits,” said Allen.
As defined by Allen herself, “Tabata is interval training, it’s 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, and we do that in a half-hour class.”
Zumba is arguably the most popular of Allen’s classes at Sacred Heart. Allen teaches three Zumba classes per week at the Pitt Center.
Zumba is a fitness program consisting of dance and aerobic exercise routines performed to popular Latin-American music.
“Zumba is fun. It is international dance rhythms from around the world combined in a 30-minute and one-hour class format,” said Allen.
“If you’re looking to get a great workout, burn some calories, and dance a bit, Zumba is a great option,” said Allen.
“I like to go to Zumba because it’s always a fun time, which makes working out so enjoyable. I have met so many friends and great people from this class. Zumba is also a good escape from my busy college schedule,” said sophomore Communications major Ashley Gerckens, who attends Allen’s Zumba classes regularly.
No experience is necessary for these classes. Some students come every week, while there are oftentimes newcomers.
“I really liked it and I am definitely going to come back,” said freshman Exercise Science major Taila Nieto, after attending one of Amber’s classes for the first time.
“It’s been great to be able to mentor students through their fitness journey by teaching. I love the experience of just getting people out of their comfort zone or giving them stress relief by teaching them each and every week,” said Allen.
On Mondays, Allen’s classes include Barre from 5-6 p.m., 30-Minute Madness from 6-6:30 p.m. and Zumba from 6:30-7 p.m. and again from 10-11 p.m. On Tuesdays, Allen teaches Tabata from 8:30-9 p.m. and Barre from 9-9:30 p.m. On Wednesdays, Amber teaches Zumba from 6-7 p.m. All of her classes are located in the Dance Studio in the lower level of the Pitt Center.
As for plans for the future, Allen is currently working on putting together a flash mob involving the entire Sacred Heart community, an alumnae Zumba class featuring Sacred Heart alumnae who are now certified Zumba instructors, and adding more classes on different days of the week.
“I hope that students will take a class with Amber and capture a bit of her spirit, fall in love with healthy living, wellness, and fitness. I hope they learn to take care of themselves and love their healthy bodies so they can be their own best version. I hope it drives them to take other fitness classes, get out of their norm, experience something new, and appreciate these great opportunities offered on campus,” said McGreevy.
“I have a big love for fitness and I also love to share that with whomever I can,” said Allen. “I love to see people smile and meet their own personal fitness goals. Sometimes, group fitness classes and one-on-one training with someone really can help them through hard times that you might not even know about. I feel blessed to be in the position where I have this as my career and work closely with so many people at Sacred Heart and around the world.”