Jump, jump! HIGH Fitness makes fitness fun again

HIGH instructors, including Emily Nelson and Amber Zenith, taught at a recent event at City Creek in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Moka Best Photography)

Getting in shape is no easy feat. It takes blood, sweat and tears to tone up and trim down. What if there was a better way?

Last January, fitness instructor Melissa Allen began a lifestyle change that resulted in a 40-pound loss. After excelling at the basics of getting in shape — changing her diet and dedicating gym time — she was bored of the same gym routine.

After branching out to training for 5K runs, Allen had to take a break because of knee pain. What was she going to do besides the same old elliptical and weight lifting at the gym?

Enter HIGH Fitness, the brainchild of Emily Nelson and Amber Zenith. Described as “body-sculpting fun,” this hour-long class combines cardio and toning exercises set to popular music.

Allen happened upon a HIGH Fitness pop-up class in her hometown of Calgary, Alberta, last year. It only took one class to get hooked on the high-impact cardio and toning frenzy that is more of a dance party than a punishing gym routine.

Check out HIGH Fitness. (Video via “And Elise Photo and Film” on Vimeo.)

How is HIGH Fitness different from Zumba or other dance fitness classes? HIGH Fitness is high intensity plyometrics and toning mixed with easy to follow choreography. (Take a look at a first timer’s experience on Fox 13 News and Studio 5.)

“We had taken and taught hundreds of fitness classes between the two of us,” Nelson explained in a recent Good4Utah interview. “We thought there was a niche missing in the fitness industry. Classes were either ‘dancey’ or really hard. We felt that we needed to mesh the two together.”

Zenith explained in the same interview that “it is a fitness class before it is a dance class.” 

Allen fell in love with HIGH Fitness and attended classes up to four times a week. After her initial 40-pound weight loss, she lost another 30 pounds and began the teaching certification process, fittingly called HIGH School.

“The cool thing is that it’s not about losing the weight, but being strong,” Allen explained. “HIGH is so much fun. It’s a community. I had a really tough year, and my friends in class were my support system through it all.”

Nelson echoed this point in a recent interview. “We want to be known for more that just a class, but rather a community.”

Melissa Allen shares her weight loss transformation on her Instagram @melissallenfitness.

For Allen, HIGH Fitness is more than losing weight and superficiality. It’s a class that promotes well-being. After becoming involved in her local HIGH Fitness community, Allen has focused on just being healthy and making smart choices.

Many fitness programs are about the scale and reaching goals alone, but not HIGH. It’s hard not to make friends in a HIGH Fitness class. It’s also hard to feel out of place.

“If I miss a few classes in a row, I’m getting calls asking ‘Where are you? We miss you!’” Allen continued, “HIGH is not a clique at all. If you’re new to a class, you’re always welcomed in.”

Fundraisers are also central to the HIGH Fitness community. Allen spoke of the multiple successful fundraisers taken on by instructors. From raising money for the kidney foundation and for leukemia, every cause is close to home. Every cent is donated to the designated cause, including the fees for the class space.

Melissa Allen embodies the spirit and passion of HIGH. Established a little over a year ago, the class has and will continue to grow and change lives just like Allen’s. Zenith and Nelson have created a community of support and love, and all are welcome to jump in and break a sweat.


HIGH Fitness is a complete body-sculpting, dance party fitness class. HIGH launched last year in Calgary, Canada and Bountiful, Utah, and is spreading fast. HIGH is now all over Utah, California, Texas, Arizona and other states. Find a local class here and follow along on both Instagram and Facebook.

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