May 16, 2016

A LaBlast Moment with Gabriela

Here is a moment from one of my wonderful UNM Aerobic Dance students (featuring LaBlast Fitness curriculum), who after only a few short weeks of class attended our April 18-19 "UNM Dance Fitness Clinic" with LaBlast creator Louis van Amstel.  

Check out their glow after ONE HOUR of dancing!

Gabriela's heart-felt and super fun account below of her experience with LaBlast, the partner-free fitness program that teaches you authentic dance, just had to be shared.  

Thank you, Gabriela!

On Saturday April 30th, I had the honor of attending Omega Delta Phi’s (ODPhi) 15th annual formal. ODPhi formal is unlike any other fraternity formal that I’ve been to because it is a multicultural fraternity, meaning it is rich in culture and proud of its heritage. The first part of the formal had some speeches from the seniors. Then one of the founding members of the New Mexico came up and spoke about how he founded the UNM chapter of ODPhi. After awards and a nice slide show, the real fun began. The dj played and we all danced.
            When salsa, samba, and cha-cha songs came on, I was able to use the moves from class to dance the entire night. I was even able to do some partner dancing, and each gentleman was really impressed with my dancing skills. Some were even shocked that I knew the steps and could do them so confidently. Once people caught on that I knew the steps, they taught me even more moves to add.
    This is when I realized how much dance plays a roll in our lives. It is something that unifies people of different cultures, and who don’t speak each other’s oral language. I am a big lover of music and dancing, but knowing the moves makes all the difference. Knowing the steps gives me a new confidence in myself. I ended up dancing for almost three hours non-stop to Latin American music, and I had the absolute time of my life. Talk about a cardio work out!  I am looking forward to showing off my moves at every opportunity I get. 

Keep up the wonderful dancing, Gabriela!  
We are so honored LaBlast enhanced your life: AWESOME!!!

YOU can join in and experience LaBlast: Watch for events with Megan here or message me!

May 12, 2016

UNM Fall 2016: "LaBlast" is Official and "PA and Aging" is back!

LaBlast Fitness joins the UNM PE Activity Program roster of classes for students and staff Fall 2016!

Register now and mark your calendars: it will be a BLAST!
Questions? Email me at
To join me for more events, see what is coming up here!

Apr 11, 2016

Blasting Dance Myths: Sex, Drinking, and... Exercise?

The following are popular social dances myths and the reasons you can set them free.

1. Myth 1 and 2: "You need a romantic partner to dance and be wary: social dancing leads to sexual encounters."

As I learned from Pro Dancer and Educator Louis Van Amstel, social dance is sensual, not necessarily sexual.  Like enjoying a piece of chocolate or a hot shower, dancing allows you to fully enjoy your body, elevate your emotions, and... those can lead to enjoyable thoughts.  

But there was time in our history where EVERYBODY in a community danced: grandparents, kids, coworkers, neighbors.  All ages, all abilities, all kinds of dance styles.  And they danced with joy together and often to celebrate accomplishments, community, love, life, and laughter.  This is the social dance we are bringing back and we enjoy most!

Our LaBlast crew playing up our sensuality on the beach in Mexico. Ole!

2. Myth 3: Where there is social dancing, there is social drinking.

Another phase of history, drinking alcohol used to be a clean method of drinking water when water was contaminated (think Cholera Era).  But water has been drinkable for a very, very, very long time and thankfully it hydrates rather than depletes you like alcohol.  

The more you dance in a relaxed and upbeat manner, the more your body and mind will crave water.  If you feel nervous and tense before dancing, this is the time to breath, reach for a friend, and request your favorite song.

Did you know that 1 of 20 people are missing an enzyme to break down alcohol?  Some populations have genetics that cause them to be immediately ill, some are immediately addicted, and some can drink with no consequence, but very few.  If you are a lucky one who can moderately drink and be merry, consider yourself doubly blessed to be surrounded by hydrated friends. :D

Dancing from 8 AM to midnight but at 2 AM in Beverly Hills:
hydrated and still going strong!
3. Myth 4: "Dance is exercise."

Exercise is a term that simply means "physical activity that is structured, planned, and repeated."

THE BEST NEWS is you only need ten to thirty minutes every day, that's moving wholeheartedly to two to five of your FAVORITE songs, to turn your rare maybe-at-a-wedding-or-graduation-social-dancing into weekly weight loss, strengthening, flexibility, grace, pose, and healthy heart outcomes.

We LOVE this type of exercise!

Sharing LaBlast Fitness in UNM Beginning Ballroom


Ages 13 to 100+, no experience welcome!

Apr 6, 2016

I can’t pass a screening to participate in dance. And yet…

Dear friends,
The other day I was dancing Tango with a student in my UNM Ballroom class, and he thanked me for sharing my darker story of physical challenges with the class last fall.  

And then he asked that share them openly with you.  Oh boy...

Here are some hard health highlights from my first 35 years:

Cancer Survivor, age 19. No thyroid. Limited body temperature and metabolism regulation
Missing liver enzyme, high bilirubin and immune response
High arches and shorter right leg; corrective orthotics
Underdeveloped vertebrae, forward pelvic tilt, permanent s- and c- spinal curves
Occasional peripheral neuropathy, unknown cause or progression
Four head traumas, four pregnancies but two beautiful children, epidural spinal leak, broken tailbone, nail through my left foot…

Yes...  There IS more.  

BUT!  The reason he and so many students come to UNM PE-AP classes and I dance and teach today with minimal pain, strength, and wellness: our like-minded community is sharing it all with YOU!

The UNM Dance Fitness Clinic, April 19-20, 2016

A celebration of movement and wellness for all.

This event could be the beginning of YOUR wellness story.

  • Begin to dance and compete with no one, just grow in your own way
  • Try social dance even if you don’t have a partner, but you may find one and you could dance together  
  • No matter your mood, learn simple dance moves will lift you, thrill you, relax you, elevate you, and showcase YOUR unique strengths   your unique strengths
  • No barriers, no experience necessary, all abilities ages 13 to 100+

Our mission to provide dance as wellness for all is and has been beyond worthwhile.  UNM, guest Louis Van Amstel, and our local NM community and I are so honored and thank you for your time and consideration in joining us.  

With gratitude,
Megan Merchant