Dance and drill workouts such as CrossFit, P90X and Zumba have undoubtedly become some of the hottest trends in contemporary fitness. Images of rippling abs, gallons of sweat and the tortured faces of exhausted participants are mainstays on late-night television screens. These images are also primary sources of intimidation for those hoping to start regular workout routines.
San Diego State transfer student Mark Jones has developed a solution to inject fun and exciting atmosphere into the mission to get in shape with his workout / dance session OneFitJam! His weekly health and fitness program fuses aspects of these contemporary workouts with live performances by local artists and disc jockeys to create a concert environment that takes the minds of its participants off the workout and into the music.
Jones, a Statesboro, Ga. native, first developed a passion for fitness from his father at a young age.
“Everything he did, I wanted to do,” Jones said. “He would run, go to the gym and play basketball with us, and I really started to like it.”
That passion continued to develop when Jones joined the Marine Corps. A transfer from the Marines sent Jones to San Diego, where the idea for OneFitJam! originated.
“The idea came to me while I was praying,” Jones said. “Why not put live artists, fitness instructors and a DJ on stage and make a workout like a concert.”
The next day, Jones pitched his idea to officials from local gospel record company M.A.N.D.A.T.E. Records. Intrigued by the concept, the label put Jones on stages around San Diego, opening for its artists and energizing crowds at events. As the events continued to grow larger, however, Jones realized that he had one major flaw — he couldn’t dance.
“I never liked group fitness classes because they would expose me to that phobia,” Jones said. “In the beginning of OneFitJam!, I didn’t have any choreography and I only used pure fitness moves.”
To overcome his fear, Jones turned to friends for help. They helped choreograph moves for his sessions and improve his dance skills. Jones and his team host free OneFitJam! sessions at 10 a.m. every Saturday at Embassy Church International in Lemon Grove.
OneFitJam! sessions are full of energy. Participants of all ages and backgrounds show up to experience this unique way of getting in shape. Classes begin with a stretch to music from one of the live performers. SDSU student and OneFitJam!’s house DJ Raysean Liddell, a.k.a “DJ Gamma Ray,” takes over on the turn tables to warm the crowd up as Jones begins his routine. Liddell includes many music genres, giving everyone something they can appreciate.
Depending on the live acts booked for the session, a second performance usually takes place during the workout to motivate and entertain participants. The event ends with a cool-down stretch and a final live performance to smooth things out.
At the latest event, local singer and guitarist Kylle Thomasson performed for the opening and cool-down stretches.
“It’s fun to witness people work out to my music,” Thomasson said. “I’ve never done anything like this before.”
Jones blends aspects from dance aerobics, kickboxing and plyometrics to create a challenging but easy-to-pick-up routine, even for those who aren’t the best dancers.
“The one thing I notice about people who can’t dance is that they don’t move their hips,” Jones said. “Our workouts use less hip movement and more exercises that won’t make you feel you are behind everybody.”
For more seasoned participants, OneFitJam! will push as hard as they can go.
“Since I ran track, I go into a lot of workouts thinking ‘what is this going to do for me?’” SDSU senior and former track runner Niki Novack said. “The abdominal workout is a killer and it’s cool because there’s a live DJ here and he does the workouts with us. It brings a lot of energy and you’re not thinking about what you’re doing, just enjoying the atmosphere.”
In the future, Jones hopes to create a OneFitJam! DVD, open a studio and develop an online gym where users can put together their own workout session based on the performances they want to hear.
On April 7, Jones will take OneFitJam! to Hollywood where he will be warming up thousands of runners at the annual Hollywood Half Marathon. Overall, Jones’ main focus is to promote healthy lifestyles for as many people as he can.
“I think health is best achieved through unity and people working together to overcome their issues,” Jones said.