Moving With Country Heat

Country Heat Instructor Michelle Ferguson, along with members of her classes, at the DuBois Polishfest Parade.

By Jill Moon

If you’re looking for a different form of exercise to try there is something new being offered in the area. Michelle Ferguson of Ashley is teaching several classes of Country Heat, country dance moves set to country music.

Ferguson said she wouldn’t call it aerobic but participants do get a low impact, total body workout. She described it as “Low impact exercise similar to line dancing to Boot Scootin’ Boogie.”

Ferguson stressed that it was open to the public, all ages and levels of fitness, and even though she doesn’t currently have any male students, gentlemen also.

She said her oldest student currently is 83 years old.

She said “It’s a low impact exercise you can do at your own pace, you can do it real slow. If you need access to a chair you can even sit down or you can hold onto a chair.”

Her students have told her the classes really relieve stress and even headaches plus giving them a chance to socialize and have fun, all while doing a whole body strengthening workout.

For $30 a month students can go to any class she teaches.

Training is required to teach classes under the name Country Heat. Ferguson received her certification in 8 hours in Peoria in November 2016.

She taught her first class in Ashley in January 2017. She has taught classes at three health fairs.

“Country Heat with Michelle” was featured recently on “The Callie and Kevin AM Show” on WSIL TV3. Ferguson also recently received a letter from the Wendy Williams Show expressing interest in doing a segment on the class.

Beachbody Live of California is the corporate fitness entity that owns the Country Heat Live name.

Ferguson is on Facebook at “Country Heat With Michelle” with examples of her classes. Countryheatlive.com also sells DVDs for those who want to see what it’s like in the privacy of their own homes.

Ferguson started out as a Zumba student then was asked to teach Zumba in Ashley.

She said “ I was very honored,” but uncomfortable as  she did not want to disrespect her teacher. An acquaintance who is a Country Heat instructor told Ferguson about it and asked if she was interested.

Ferguson said, “I looked at this, I studied it, researched it, analyzed it, and I thought this is something everybody around here could do. This is down home country music.”

Students with calorie tracking devices have reported burning anywhere from 400 to 900 calories in a class. Ferguson has dropped from size 16 to 6.

“All this while laughing and exercising and burning off those calories!” she added.

“This is why I got into it,  I would like to help people get in shape, feel better about yourselves, get off the couch, get off the recliner,” Ferguson said.