It’s not always easy to find the motivation to work out. Sometimes we blame time constraints or let other commitments take precedence, but the main reason for deflating inspiration is often that we simply don’t enjoy our gym sessions. Luckily, Chavonne Hodges and Fiona Harvey of GrillzandGranola have come up with the perfect music-infused solution to keep people pumped about exercising: TrapAerobics.
The New York City-based TrapAerobics classes last 45 minutes and “combine hi-low aerobics moves with dancing and trap music” to provide a “turnt up exercise experience that you won’t find anywhere else.” According to founder Chavonne Hodges, “trap is a subgenre of hip hop that started in the South. It was created by black artists who have endured a lot of socioeconomic hardships and have often had to create their own opportunities to prosper. It’s a sweet spot in hip hop right now, because a lot of trap artists rap about their street tales of struggle to triumph over catchy 808-thumping music. Trap is about bravado, turnt-ness and resilience of the underdog.”
Chavonne conceptualized the class, and was inspired by her desire to manage her anxiety disorder through exercise. Her panic attacks were beginning to spiral out of control, and when she realized that her drinking and partying habits weren’t doing much to improve her mental health, she turned to fitness. Although she knew partying wasn’t the answer, Chavonne also knew there was no reason that working out couldn’t be just as fun: “After taking multiple fitness classes at my gym and listening to Drake and Future’s What a Time to Be Alive mixtape, I kind of had an ‘aha’ moment. Exercise should be fun; like the kind of fun you have when you turn up at a party. That way it won’t feel like exercise, but you’ll still burn a ton of calories.”
With this idea in mind, Chavonne set out to create the perfect class. “I decided to get a fitness certification, then I tapped my friend Fiona Harvey, who has a background in dance and teaches Zumba, and we started working on it. I spent 9 months learning, observing, and researching movement and music. Once I felt confident enough to share it with the world we piloted the class five times. I watched myself for hours before we finally launched it.”
But it isn’t just Chavonne’s love of fun and exercise that keeps her going. By creating an outlet to manage her own anxiety, she has not only found a community, but also an opportunity to discuss the issue of mental health on a larger scale. “My favorite thing about teaching is the community of women I’ve met. They come to our classes, make new friends, share their weight loss stories, and smile during the workouts. It seriously warms my heart and gives me a sense of purpose because I never expected any of this to happen. GrillzandGranola started as a way for me to distract myself from my break-up and to really work on and improve my anxiety,” she explained. “Pairing trap music with aerobics has helped us combat an issue that no one talks about in our community while [promoting] music that everyone loves. So it really feels more like a mental and physical health movement fueled by trap music. In fact, I barely have panic attacks now.”
In addition to teaching in their studio, GrillzandGranola also branches out for collaborative events. On June 10th, they hosted Trappin’ 101, an event that was “all about wellness and self-care,” featuring April May B., Retha Fernandez, and Ellastina Gosein. In an upcoming event on June 21st, they will partner with NYC Dance Week and Purposefully Pretty, a Queens-based non-profit, to raise money for community-based organizations in Chavonne’s hometown of Jamaica, Queens.
If you’re not in the New York City area, you can still get in on the fun. Chavonne and Fiona have hosted a live workout with Black Fitness Today Magazine, and are planning to take their class on tour. So whether it’s through online videos or tours, as the community grows, it looks like TrapAerobics will find its way to you.