"Teacher Profile: Benjamin Allen" - LA YOGA Magazine
This dynamic dancer and choreographer is starting a GROOV3MENT.
At one point in Ben Allen’s career, he was a back up dancer for drag queens. Now, he is the founder of one of the hottest movements (or as he calls it, a GROOV3MENT) in the dance and fitness communities: GROOV3.
According to dancer and choreographer Allen, “GROOV3 is a one hour, high-energy, dance ’til you drop, cardio funk class with a mission to inspire change and build a global community through the power of dance. Simple combinations accommodate all fitness levels, and classes are set to the beat of a live DJ or feature the hottest mixes around.” While an infectious beat gets most of us moving, following a routine can sometimes be intimidating and can be a barrier to walking into a studio space. This is where GROOV3 comes in. Ben’s mission, “I want to create an environment outside of the gym where anyone is welcome, that has affordable class prices and accessible choreography.” GROOV3 grooves at the intersection between professional dance and the dance fitness industry.
Why dance? While dance is fun and fitness, there is something more found in GROOV3. Ben sees movement literally as a movement. He says, “We are in a crucial time in our history and if more people don’t open up their hearts to care about one another and our planet, we’re going to be in big trouble. I hope, with GROOV3, to build a global community of dancers that will also inspire more consciousness to change the world. Drop beats not bombs. If everybody danced together, maybe we would live in a more peaceful place.”
Where does this begin? Ben says, “Find what inspires and moves you and put that action back in your life. Lead with that.”
When it comes to leading with passion, Ben’s own steps to founding GROOV3 reflect following your own passion in life. Ben fell in love with dance in college, specifically influenced by an instructor at the Arizona State University Rec Center who started a coalition for anybody who wanted to dance, preaching that dance was for body, mind, and soul. The soulful connection is evident in any GROOV3 class or event and is an essential part of the movement.
After graduating from ASU with a business degree, Ben moved to LA. He came to dance—and dance he did. While teaching at Gold’s Gym, he had the opportunity to see firsthand how much people are looking for an opportunity to just dance, not for any purpose, not to be a pro, or even to lose weight. “They just wanted to come for the social component, the wellness component, and the mind-body connection.”
Finding a way to connect fueled the creation of the GROOV3 community. Where did the name come from? Ben says, “When thinking about the style of the movement, the best way we could describe the movement was groovy! A little bit of pop, little bit of funk, little bit of soul, but in general feel good movement that anyone could do. We knew we couldn’t just call it groove, the word is too generic. Then as we were brainstorming more about the class, three words kept popping up.” These three magic words were dance, sweat, live. They became the motto for the movement, and the inspiration to flip the “E” in the word “groove” for GROOV3.
“With GROOV3, you are learning and building, the movement is fun, yet effective, and you can take it outside of the classroom.” The majority of people at GROOV3 classes or events used to dance or want to learn how to dance. Ben said, “We are reigniting a passion that, for most, was lost in high school or college, and now they are getting that chance to get back on the dance floor.” This is meaningful practice that impacts the rest of a person’s day. “I think connecting to a passion like dance and making time for it translates to everything else that you do.”
Ben exemplifies the passion for dance and movement. One of the people he models his career after isRichard Simmons, whose infectious enthusiasm for having fun while keeping fit changed the way we work out. “When I first started this, I said – and I still do – that I want to be the next Richard Simmons. He played such an important role in so many people’s lives. He was a motivational coach, and he spread so much joy and love in everything that he did and affected so many people. Translating that to this decade and doing something similar would be such an honor.”
He maintains a commitment to personal practice and continues to take classes that expand his repertoire and move him out of his comfort zone. Ben finds himself drawn to teachers who have an obvious enthusiasm and passion for what they do—who love the opportunity to inspire. I’ve often seen Ben in my classes at Hot 8 Yoga. In addition to yoga in a studio, Ben appreciates trying new modalities like aerial yoga and indoor sandbox fitness classes. He says, “I want to keep expanding my vocabulary as a movement artist and professional because it helps me stay creative when I choreograph.”
Sitting with Ben at Earth Bar in West Hollywood, I see that he is on that path and can make it happen. Ben is a consummate dancer and business pro whose passion for dance and connecting people has led to collaborations with Robin Anton of the Pussycat Dolls, The Sweat Spot, Equinox, Weight Watchers, and Nike. GROOV3 collaborated with Yoga for Dancers and Yogazilla to host a rooftop dance party to celebrate Beyonce’s birthday at the Montalban Theater. Not only is he elevating the Los Angeles dance and fitness community to fit-excellence, but Ben has his sights on a worldwide movement of taking GROOV3 and this powerful, purposeful, fun, accessible, and inspiring GROOV3MENT to set the globe aflame.