Remember Richard Simmons? He was on a mission to combine throwback music with fitness in his Sweatin’ to the Oldies series. He recently resurfaced to assure the world that, after avoiding public life for several years, he hasn’t gone off the rails or anything.
But no matter. Because now there's a Simmons 2.0 who's way cooler. And with less wafty hair.
His name is Aerick Luckie. But he goes only by Luckie, and his Old School Skinny class fills studios with people who love his '90s mixes enough to fit exercise into their busy Angeleno lives. They trek to North Hollywood on Wednesdays or to downtown on Thursdays. Soon, there will be a Westwood option for them to shake it to Paula Abdul, MC Hammer and Chaka Khan.
In case you ever wanted to be a Fly Girl, Luckie will choreograph something to the In Living Color theme. He always takes requests via the Meetup groups that advertise his next few jams.
North Hollywood resident Angora Ingram, 29, was halfway through her 130-pound weight-loss journey when she started attending the class in Tarzana three years ago. Luckie kept her coming back by adjusting some of the choreography to accommodate the joint issues she experienced at the time, so she could still participate without going full out.
“He’ll come and show you a revised move just for you,” Ingram says. She now attends with her 60-year-old aunt and 12-year-old niece, and the three generations dance together in whatever bit of whimsy Luckie chooses to liven up that week's class — sometimes special lighting, sometimes neon hats.
Luckie’s idea for his therapeutic "cardio dance party" began in 2009 when he was on the Simmons-esque weight-loss dance show Dance Your Ass Off on the Oxygen network. The Inglewood native was hired to create choreography for nonprofessional dancers, and found it more rewarding than schooling the pros, especially when he was backed by a '90s soundtrack.
“Everything about the fashion and music were spiritually electric," he says. "Instead of teaching an advanced-level class, I found it more freeing and gratifying to dance to music that we all love while sharing a positive and uplifting environment.”
Coincidentally, his Mid-City church, One Church International, asked him soon thereafter to teach dance to congregants once a week. Juggling a few commitments at the time, he was at first reluctant but decided to do it for his own soon-to-be mother-in-law, thinking a fun dance party would help her lose weight in preparation for an upcoming knee surgery. Soon the class was overflowing, and he moved the party to a North Hollywood studio, ARC Dance Lounge. Tearfully grateful single moms who told Luckie that it was their only time for themselves in years affirmed his commitment to what he now considers a movement. Dance, in his mind, changes lives.
When ARC closed, Luckie found Tarzana's Shape Up LA, then back to NoHo at Evolution Studios in 2015, where he’s holding strong with his Wednesday night flashback workout party. This year he added Downtown Dance and Movement on Hope Street, near Staples Center, thrilled to see buttoned-up 9-to-5ers learning to get down.
Next in the pipeline is "OSS Live," a livestream of the class to allow people to participate from home or office.
Planning the music for classes is a charge, and it’s where he always begins with the choreography he uses to turn people out. “I know I've struck gold," he says, "when I find a remix to a classic hit with deep bass lines.”
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You, too, can pump up the jam with Old School Skinny on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. at Evolution Studios in North Hollywood, or at Downtown Dance and Movement in DTLA on Thursdays at 8 p.m. More info at www.thatsluckie.com.