Pony Sweat


Article by Stacy Conde

Photography by Pony Sweat

I have never been a group workout person, and I've struggled to find an activity that I enjoy doing on my own. Cardio Barre and I had a moment. We had a good run, actually, but then I got busy with work and life and Cardio Barre and I went our separate ways.

The other complication with me and exercise is ... I'll just come out and say it: I'm an oddball. I don't respond well to aggressive "feel the burn" drills. I cringe at requests to find my heart center and I will. not. grunt, groan or chant on command. Call me a big jerk. I might deserve it, but it's my workout and I need it to be my way.

I want to do aerobics to Fugazi (don't tell them that). I want the instructor to tell me that the moves don't matter. I want them to swear as much as I do (I swear a lot). Basically, I want to feel like I'm at a Replacements show in 1985 with loose choreography that only half of the audience follows.

Pony Sweat is all of those aforementioned things and so much more. Soundtracks include Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure, Kate Bush, Bikini Kill, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Grace Jones. One of their inspirational mantras is "F@%k the moves!". Workout attire is 1980s-era Jane Fonda with a touch of "Desperately Seeking Susan" mesh and capri leggings. If you don't find all of that completely awesome, it's OK. For us self-professed kooks, it is everything.

In their own words, Pony Sweat is a fiercely noncompetitive dance aerobics community that actively supports: Social Justice // Anti-Racist Action // Transgender, Non-binary, and Queer Equality // Feminist Revolution // Accessibility for All // Liberation for All Bodies.

Just as Soul Cycle and CrossFit aren't for everyone, what I've just described may not be for you, but thank the '80s-inspired aerobics fairies for Pony Sweat creator Emilia Richeson-Valiente. She has created an incredible, supportive community of "Ponies" who are able to prance and dance and sweat with complete abandon and no judgement.

In-person classes will resume in Los Angeles one day when the pandemic is in the rearview mirror. For now, and for those of us not in LA, online classes are available here.

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