If you are looking for a form of fitness that combines your love of Greek dancing with some aerobic workout variations and will also have you feeling fit and fab in no time- look no further.
OPA-cize is the first 100 percent pure Greek dance fitness program of its kind that has become hugely popular, not only amongst the Greek community but also non-Greek people around the globe.
After realising that such a fitness class did not exist anywhere else in the world Kathy Skettos, owner and creator of OPA-cize decided to start one herself. With a background in dance, Kathy designed and organised her first Greek dance fitness class, which to her surprise included about 160 students on the dance floor.
“OPA-cize was only supposed to be a one night ‘special party class’ for my regular Zumba students, as we always ran special themed party classes. However, I noticed that my adverts on social media for this class were going viral and that’s when I knew there was a real big interest here,” says Kathy.
“I then googled ‘Greek dance fitness’ and there was nothing that came up anywhere in the world and that’s when I realised there was a massive gap in this market. Sadly for me, two days before our launch class was to take place my sister Mary suddenly passed away. She literally dropped dead from heart failure. This honestly rocked mine and my family’s world to its core. I remember in my grieving state asking my Mum, “What should I do? My mother suggested that I go ahead with the class as I had taken a lot of bookings and then shut down for a while.”
“So I did just that. The first actual OPA-cize class had 270 or so students, it was completely full. We had a great night and I don’t know how I got through it, but I did and I then closed down to grieve.”
It was then that Kathy decided when she would return to work, OPA-cize would become a regular weekly class dedicated to her late sister Mary- as a way of spreading good health, happiness and fitness- through Greek music, which her sister adored.
Now if you think this class is just about socialising and having fun- think again. Kathy worked hard at creating a program to disguise the hard work with ‘kefi’ (joy). It’s also intended for people who have poor eating habits and many who do not feel comfortable in a traditional gym environment.
“Classes run for 45 minutes to an hour and they are formatted to take you through various levels- from high and low intervals- as this enhances your metabolism to work faster and promotes good health, fitness and weight loss.”
“There is no denying it’s lots of fun and I intentionally did that so you don’t realise how hard you are actually working. Before you know it, one hour has passed and you have burned 500-1000 calories. The fun you experience on our dance floor promotes happiness and eliminates depression from the hardship of a routine lifestyle,” adds Kathy, who is a firm believer in keeping the mind, body and soul alive, active and happy.
“Our classes are like the ‘Bouzoukia’ (Greek music club) only in sneakers and you do not have to wait for a special night or event, you can OPA-cize every night and anywhere in the world if you like.”
Not only does Kathy run her weekly Sydney based and other pop-up classes around Australia, she is now training people to teach her OPA-cize program worldwide and the aim is to spread her infectious fun Greek movement near and far across the globe.
“I love promoting health and fitness through fun. I’m passionate about my students and I love that I am able to add happiness and health to their lives through music and dance. I’m committed to transforming lives and I use my platform on stage to do just that. My classes are like a little ‘happy pill’ for your soul.”
The benefit of this program is people of all fitness levels can attend and get the most out of the program, this can be achieved by working at your own pace.
“We have designed our program to be a ‘one workout fits all’ so that young people can enjoy it and the middle age and older aged students can likewise be a part of it. We keep it at a medium pace and leave it up to you to go hard and work at a high intensity or go slower and stay at a lower intensity level. The main thing is not to stress about making mistakes, keep moving and grooving and enjoy the music and the moment,” says Kathy.
“Although the moves are very much Greek dance inspired, you definitely do not have to be a professional dancer or even a strong dancer to participate and enjoy the program. You just need an open-mind and carefree, fun nature to let go and enjoy the moment. Our one hour together really flies by and you will be left wanting more – even if you have two left feet, you will feel like a professional on our dance floor.”
Kathy is also very proud of the fact she is bringing together Greek communities worldwide, as her classes are growing by the day and being enjoyed by thousands across the globe, which enables people to re-connect with their Greek culture.
“Opa-cize is putting ‘the Greek’ back into many people’s lives and taking us all back to our ground roots. Our dance floors remind me of a small Greek village, where everyone knows everyone and they are related in one way or another. Those who attend for the first time are made to feel like long lost family.”
“The beautiful Greek spirit is really felt in our class and once the music comes on, young and old are taken on a journey through beautiful Greece, via infectious Greek tunes. The lyrics touch our hearts and leave our souls feeling refreshed and alive,” says Kathy.
OPA-cize also went on their first world tour this month, including classes in London, Montreal, New York and Chicago, where they already have a loyal following.
“We met some of our beautiful instructors over there who have worked hard in the last year and met some lovely students. I’m just so excited to see what the future holds,” says Kathy.