The people in the packed yoga room look terrified.
“I heard there’s twerking involved,” says one girl.
“I think this is, like, stripper yoga,” says another.
Fitness instructor Courtney Harris turns down her carefully prepared playlist and takes her place at the front. After two years of teaching this unconventional style of exercise, she still gets surprised when so many people show up for class. Genuinely humble and grateful, she goes into her usual spiel:
“Things might jiggle a little,” she says to the scared faces. “Just close your eyes, reach inside and let your freak flag fly.”
She re-cranks the music and BUTI—a West Coast-born yoga-dance hybrid—begins. Things gyrate. Booties pop. Students try to match Courtney’s high energy. Everyone gets way outside their comfort zones…and way outside their heads.
“It’s intimidating at first. People don’t know what to expect. But they always surprise themselves and leave giggling and smiling,” Courtney says.
Courtney added BUTI to her Pilates-and-barre repertoire after a friend shared a video of the exercise as a joke. For Courtney, it blended her love for music and lack of rules. She’d tried to fit in with the boutique-fitness craze in her six years teaching in Charleston. “It’s like that 90210 quote,” she says. “‘Everyone here looks like they stepped out of a music video and I don't even have the right hair.’” BUTI gave her an outlet to contribute something fresh.
When the high-end studio scene seemed to plateau, Courtney saw a need for more variety and less seriousness. There were enough brick-and-mortar spaces, so, together with her business partner, she launched the pop-up fitness-and-fashion event, Fit Mob.
“I felt myself getting too comfortable and like nothing had changed much,” Courtney says. “Healthy should be about doing what you love and doing it all the time. I asked myself, ‘What can I do differently?’”
At Fit Mob’s kick-off at Cannon Green in March, Courtney not only brought the “something different” she’d wanted through innovative classes and off-the-grid athletic brands, she also demonstrated that if you just show up and jump around, exercise can be fun again.
“The best compliment I heard was, ‘I didn’t know it was gonna be such a good time.’ That’s all I’m going for.”