On Monday afternoon, Richmond became the big stage as “Dancing with the Stars” choreographer and performer Louis Van Amstel was at the Steve Nash Sports Club leading his LaBlast dance class for charity.
More than 20 people of various ages and backgrounds, mostly women, filled a small studio and followed along with Van Amstel’s gyrations, all for a good cause.
Admission was free with a non-perishable food donation or unwrapped toy to go towards the Salvation Army.
“I love when you can combine two things — having fun and helping a great cause,” said the fit 40-year-old dancer.
“It was so nice to see a different demographic. I find that all of the Steve Nash clubs have different types of members.
“The great thing is that dance is universal and people came to the class with different goals — some to lose weight, some to dance and have a good time and some just to check it out.”
Minh Ly, marketing communications manager for The Kirk Group — the PR firm that looks after both Van Amstel in Canada and the Steve Nash Sports Clubs — said the dancer had been in the Lower Mainland since Friday teaching his LaBlast Fitness class to instructors at various other sports club locations.
The Kirk Group owner, Colleen Kirk, said Van Amstel was helping kick off her organization’s toy and food drive that will be taking place at all Steve Nash locations in the Lower Mainland and one in Victoria.
“I’m American, so my favourite charity in the states is Toys for Tots,” said Kirk. “
They don’t have quite the same thing here, but I had just been at a luncheon with the Salvation Army with another client and I met them. I called them and said we want to do food and toys, and they said ‘we have the hamper program’ and we put it together in two days.”
With a member base of 90,000 at Steve Nash it was a natural fit to partner with the fitness company to drive donation efforts. The Kirk Group has also pitched in to get things started.
“We actually purchased $5,000 worth of toys from Toys ’R’ Us, they worked with us and gave us a discount — they were amazing,” said Kirk who added she had great fun researching and then buying the toys herself.
She made sure to cover every age group, including teenagers which she said is often the most difficult demographic to shop for, and will be donating the toys when the Salvation Army comes to pick them up on Dec. 15.
Another pickup will take place a few days later and again closer to Christmas. Anything donated to a Steve Nash Sports Club will stay in that particular location’s community.
“We’re looking for a balance of toys and food, I think those are two really good areas. One thing is we really want to focus on the teenagers because they get left out, so we made sure we had a chunk of our budget for that. We’re encouraging people to buy the gifts cards for teens because it’s easy.”