Introducing Llaina Rash
Llaina is one of our beloved members of the Shazzy Fitness video dance team (she appears in the video, "Shazzy Fitness: In the Beginning"). By day, Llaina is a full-time manager with the Department of Public Health in Atlanta, Georgia where she is fortunate to be able to also share her passion for teaching fitness classes.
Can you tell us a little bit about your position at the Department of Public Health? What does your day normally look like?
I manage the field experience program for the Department of Public Health which often includes helping students who are interested in gaining public health experience.
I typically spend most of my day responding to student inquiries, coordinating orientations for exiting interns, coordinating presentations, training new interns, and preparing for the group fitness course I teach.
We understand you teach hip-hop fitness classes weekly before work. Who attends them? How many people?
Yes, I am a certified group fitness instructor and my class has anywhere from 5 to 13 employees of the department.
Who offers the classes? Is this a benefit of working at the DPH?
The Department of Public Health offers the classes. We have an on-site gym open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. which has been open for about a year now. In support of the new gym, our department offers group exercise classes such as Zumba, strength training, line dancing, and my hip-hop class.
How did the program begin?
We had some structural changes that transitioned us from a division to a department. With the change, we gained a commissioner who felt that as public health employees and educators we needed to mirror what we were teaching. They were concerned about us being healthy and began programs that promoted a healthy lifestyle. We now have group fitness classes and healthy eating classes. Each employee is given 30 minutes of their work day to dedicate to fitness.
Did you have any previous experience teaching dance before this program?
Not teaching. I’ve participated in recreational dance since elementary school and always took dance classes while in school but I never pursued it professionally.
What inspired you to want to teach these classes?
My involvement with Shazzy Fitness. After doing the video, learning the choreography, and working choreographers I thought to myself ‘I could do this!’ So Shazzy really gave me my motivation. Working with Shazzy, I was also able to see people of all ages and backgrounds come together and I really enjoyed that.
What is the importance of programs like these in the workplace?
Programs like these improve mental and physical health. As employees sit at their desks on the computer all day, it begins to take a toll on them. So programs like these give them an opportunity to get away, rejuvenate and manage their weight.
How have these classes changed your work life?
I’m much more busy now. In addition to my workload I now have to configure my day around teaching the class. I like to keep it new and fresh, so I’m constantly looking for new songs. Sometimes that means taking work home with me.
But I’ve also gained a lot from teaching the classes. I feel more rejuvenated at work. Sometimes work can seem stagnant so it’s nice to take a break to teach. I really look forward to the days I teach.
How would you say Shazzy Fitness has influenced how you teach in your class?
Definitely the moves. It opened my eyes to some really funky moves. I still do Shazzy Fitness at home and I’d like to eventually incorporate it into my classes - especially the music. I love that Shazzy has hip-hop music with a positive message. It’s a good groove and it’s clean.
How did you hear about the Shazzy Fitness project? What drew you to it?
I heard about Shazzy Fitness through instructor Vera. She teaches a class that I take each week. I love to dance so I was excited to get involved in a project that had a built-in reason for me to workout. I also believed in the project and the message.
What was it like working on the Shazzy Fitness DVD? How has that experience improved your fitness?
Shazzy Fitness has encouraged me to work out more and place more importance on my physical fitness. It really began to become something I looked forward to. I remember one time I got sick and I was just hoping to get better so I could return to practice because it was so fun. I enjoyed working with people of all ages and there was always a lot of support and a lot of laughs. I look forward to the next video. Shazzy Fitness has a great message and great moves I think people will really enjoy.
Shazzy also helped me push myself to the next level. I used to dance in high school and college and this was my opportunity to prove to myself that I could still do it.
What would you say to those interested in dance fitness but are new to dance?
Try. Keep moving and it’ll come to you. Find one move you can do and do it.