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Parisian Showgirls Teach You How to Move

Kalon dance class

Parisians have a talent for making exercise and working out look sexy. If you want to get in on the act, the French fitness group Kalon will help you learn the moves. Created and taught by Parisian showgirls from famous cabarets such as the Moulin Rouge and Lido, they offer specialized cardio-barre workouts as well as choreographed dance routine workshops — sans Can-Can high kicks!

The Kalon Concept

Kalon Movement was created by Emma Rigby and Sophie Dibdin-Fourçans, former dancers who wanted to create a fitness brand with a touch of glamour, based on what they learned as dancers yet accessible to anyone.

The Kalon Instructors
The Kalon Instructors

Instead of the usual gym and muscled instructors doing endless reps, you’ve got professional showgirls who have developed specialized cardio-barre workouts combining ballet, Pilates and yoga moves to focus on sculpting muscles and achieving a graceful posture. For those of us who usually feel awkward and frumpy at the gym, this is an intriguing concept.

“Artistic, addictive and accessible to all levels, Kalon’s signature method uses small, isometric movements with high rep and low weight to push you to your limits and guarantee fast, long-lasting results.”

But they also have special workshops for those of us who really just want to have fun. 😉

The Showgirl Workshops

If you’re more interested in the showgirl aspect of Kalon than getting fit, then don’t miss their monthly Showgirl Workshops at the Nolinski, a luxury five-star boutique hotel at 16 Avenue de l’Opéra, between the Palais Garnier and the Palais Royal. For €70, you get a two-hour workshop with an instructor who will teach you a sexy showgirl choreography, followed by cocktails in the hotel bar with your fellow participants. I was invited by Sophie to check out the March workshop so I could give you all an idea of what it’s like.

Learning the Moves — in High Heels!

The Nolinski Hotel
The Nolinski Hotel

I arrived at the Nolinski and was pointed to a doorway at the back of the lobby behind a thick curtain leading to the hotel’s bar. The tables were moved to the side, leaving the carpeted room open for our eight participants to take the class.

Everyone changes into their yoga outfits and – for now — bare feet. There are bottles of water and towels if needed. Our instructor for the evening, Jolene, a former principal dancer at the Moulin Rouge, welcomes each of us and checks to see who speaks English or French. Originally from Australia, she teaches the class in “Franglais”, switching back and forth when needed, which seems to work for everyone. Before getting started on the dance routine, we warm up with a session of the Kalon cardio-barre movements that combines ballet and Pilates moves. They’re small but effective movements and we’re all quickly feeling the burn.

Jolene, our instructor
Our instructor for the night, Jolene

With Jolene’s guidance, it’s easy for everyone to follow the movements at their own pace. She also takes the time to explain how to hold our arms and shoulders in a more graceful way, focusing on our overall style and not just making us sweat. Of course she’s tall and gorgeous and we all want to move as elegantly as she does, even if we’re I’m huffing and puffing as if I haven’t taken any gym classes since before the pandemic.

Time flies when you’re having fun, and we quickly move on to the best part of the class: the showgirl choreography.

We strap on our high heels and peel off a few layers as the room has really warmed up (my only suggestion would be that they bring in some fans for the classes or turn on the A/C). We start off learning how to walk like a showgirl, which is very similar to how you see models strut on the catwalk. It doesn’t feel natural at first to walk that way, but with the music and the encouraging atmosphere (and a lot of laughing), we start to feel more comfortable.

Jolene with a class participant
After just an hour, she’s got the moves!

Next, Jolene plays a clip from France’s 2022 Eurovision song, Évidemment by La Zara, and shows us the short routine she has created for us. Then she breaks it down step-by-step, taking us through and offering helpful tips (like “always keep your legs closed to accentuate the curve from your hip”, “it’s all in the shoulders”, “don’t forget to have fun!”). Before you start imaging high kicks and pirouettes, these moves are all completely accessible for the average person, no splits or complicated footsteps required.

By the end, everyone had the basic moves down, and a few felt confident enough to try the whole routine next to Jolene, to much applause from the rest of us.

After the requisite selfies, we all changed back into our normal clothes and the bartender came around for cocktail orders (included in the price of the class). It was nice to relax and chat with Jolene and the other ladies. A few came with friends, most were on their own like me. One was a regular student of the cardio-barre classes, and another had taken one of the showgirl choreography workshops. But the class is definitely accessible to absolute beginners like myself who just want to have a bit of fun and add some sexy new moves to spice up our workout routine.

Heather & Jolene
Heather & Jolene, enjoying our cocktails

Kalon’s classes won’t turn you into a long-legged showgirl like “Satine” from Moulin Rouge, but they certainly know how to set the mood for an enjoyable experience. After all, it’s more fun putting in the work if it just might spark your inner femme fatale.

Register Now for Upcoming Workshops

The next showgirl workshops at the Nolinski:

  • April 16th
  • May 14th
  • June 11th

The 2-hour workshops (plus cocktail) start at 4pm and cost €70/person. Book quickly, as there are limited spaces: https://www.kalonmovement.com/events

Weekly Cardio-Barre Classes

The regular Kalon cardio-barre workouts take place in spaces throughout Paris on a weekly Paris (usually hotel gyms or yoga studios) some which require you to be a member, like the Ritz Club. You can see the full schedule here: https://www.kalonmovement.com/classes-in-paris

Kalon dancer with weights
Mini-weights and stilettos, anyone?

Online Classes on the Kalon App

If you’re not in Paris or prefer to practice from the comfort of your own home, the Kalon app and online platform has hundreds of VOD workouts, including a selection of showgirl choreographies, and even tutorials like how to apply your make-up for a night out in Paris. You can test the app for free for seven days, then it’s €35.99/month or €299/year (available on iPhone and Android).

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