Photo of Clayton at work on 2nd Street. Photo by Sareena Barron.

Zumba, Jazz-ercise and even pole dancing are just some of the new and exciting ways people are combining dance into their workout. Next to hit the floor is Crunk Fitness, a cutting-edge exercise program that uses the hottest hip-hop and Top 40 songs to create refreshing routines anyone can do.

We recently sat down with Clayton Gray, an instructor of Crunk Fitness not only in Long Beach, but throughout the Los Angeles area. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama (where Crunk Fitness was also created), Gray moved to Long Beach in June and brought CF to the West Coast with him. As one of the program’s few Master Instructors, he can recruit and train others to become instructors.

In between the three classes he teaches per week—one of which is held at Psalms 30:11 Studio of Dance in Long Beach—he also works at Lucky Brand Jeans store on 2nd Street in Belmont Shore. We recently caught up with Gray during his lunch break to talk about the benefits of this new fitness craze and why everyone should try it for themselves.

Visiting the website, I read that Crunk Fitness was created by Jamme Morginn.

Clayton Gray: Right, she started the program back in 2000, but it wasn’t “Crunk Fitness” yet. At that point, it was just a cardio class. [Jamme] wanted a cardio/hip-hop class, but one didn’t exist, so she created one in her church basement.

So how did you get involved?

I got involved in 2010, at the University of Alabama at my rec center. Crunk Fitness was offered as one of the classes. I have a dance background, so I went in thinking, okay I’m gonna go right to the front. My instructor’s name was Michael, I had thought I should try to show him up. I told myself, I can do this. Oh yeah, I was the cocky, egotistical dancer in the front of the room. He ended up proving that he was still the master of his class. He pulled me aside after and said, “You need to become certified.”

How many years have you been a dancer?

Going on eight years. I’m pretty much trained in everything except for tap. Hip-hop is more of my personal style; it’s what my focus has always been. [I’ve also done] Modern, Jazz, and Ballet.

How does a normal session of Crunk Fitness go?

It’s an hour-long class, and basically what happens is I start the class, make an introduction, and we do a quick warm-up. It’s choreography style, so we add on moves, one after another, until everybody gets it. Slowly, we develop an entire routine that we do from start to finish without stopping. It’s like taking an L.A. dance class, or an Atlanta dance class, where you have to be a skilled dancer and turning it into something really basic that everyone can do. You’ll be a super-sexy video dancer at the end.

So anyone can do it?

Anyone can do it. Absolutely, it’s for all fitness levels, all ages. I think I’ve seen every type of person do Crunk Fitness.

Where are you located?

Right now, I’m teach at Your Neighborhood Studio in Culver City, Metro Fitness in Los Angeles, and the Pslam 30:11 School of Ballroom Dance in Long Beach. More cities to come, and more instructors, too; I’m recruiting.

In your opinion, where do you want Crunk Fitness to go?

From the beginning, we’ve always had this global image of what we see the end result of Crunk Fitness to be: a fitness brand that is recognized nationally and internationally, that has DVDs that sell world wide, classes that people love to go to, thousands of instructors. I don’t want to say “follow Zumba,” but Zumba really paved the way. Nobody really considered dance a form of fitness until Zumba. They’ve created this open market for other dance styles to come in.

Are there any recent news or updates for Crunk Fitness?

Well, my move out here is the first time Crunk Fitness has ever been available on the West Coast. Also, with our online certification, you can become an instructor online no matter where you live. Anyone, anywhere can take advantage of it.

Check out Crunk Fitness’s revamped site at to become a trainer, read testimonials, and find the schedule of Clayton’s classes:!LosAngelesClayton/c14ht