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Braintree Resident Uses Hip Hop Dance to Help Clients Shed Pounds

Johnna Baca's So Fly Fitness in Holbrook uses her trademarked dance classes and other forms of training to help clients lose weight and feel good.

A Braintree resident may be the next big name in physical training with her dance-based program at So Fly Fitness, 782 Plymouth Street, Holbrook.

Inspired by the energy and attitude of hip hop, latin and reggaeton music, Johnna Baca, a mother of two, has developed choreography and classes that have helped numerous clients lose weight and get in shape. 

She's been in the Holbrook space since fall 2012 and sees the studio and gym as just part of a potential empire. Videos and even franchises are part of the future for the Albuquerque, New Mexico native and United States Air Force Security Forces veteran.

Whether she's training someone or leading a class, Baca isn't interested in excuses. Part of that is from her military background, but the larger reason is she's never let excuses keep her down. After having two children, now 12 and 11, Baca gained over 100 pounds. Using dance-based fitness along with diet and an exercise routine, she lost the weight despite going through a separation and divorce.

Baca started teaching Zumba and other aerobic classes at Bayshore Athletic Club in Braintree around 2007. Baca has trademarked two classes, the hip hop inspired So Fly and Muévelo, a Latin music-based dance program. Both employ heavy cardio movement to fast-paced, energetic music.

The choreographer and business owner received help trademarking her programs from student turned part-time manager and assistant Melissa Lewis. Despite a low dance IQ, Lewis started taking So Fly classes in 2009. She lost weight and developed a friendship with Baca.

Lewis, who works in the litigation department of a Boston law firm, applied her expertise to So Fly, filing trademark paperwork and organizing the business.

"I believe in it," said Lewis.

When she decided to leave the Braintree gym, Baca was interested in converting a smaller office space in the Plymouth Street building into a studio. Tommy Keough, who owns the building and its other tenant MTV Solutions, encouraged Baca to think bigger.

She took a larger space that allowed for a bigger studio as well as a weight lifting equipment. So Fly Fitness is more than just a dance studio with personal training, boxing, muay thai and other workout methods.

"I really wanted to knock it out of the park," Baca said of the Holbrook facility.

Part of her big swing is a new mural that covers the large wall on the studio side of the gym. In mid-April, with little instruction, Quincy-based artist Brand Rockwell put his mark on So Fly Fitness. Rockwell graffitied the wall, with a large recreation of one of Baca's early So Fly promotional photos. 

With a place to call its own and a growing reputation, Baca and her other instructors are focused on quality with all their classes.

"If they're spending the money, I want to give them the best class possible," said Baca.

So Fly Fitness is also beginning a its fourth cycle of its most life changing program, the Six-Month Challenge. For each Challenge client, Baca develops a workout and dietary program. The participants work to lose weight through personal training and classes. 

At the end they are eligible to win prizes and have a photo shoot with Baca's friend Peter Gonzales to document their progress.

Classes at So Fly Fitness are $9 each and bulk packages are available.

To learn more and view a schedule of classes, visit soflyfitness.com.

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