Monotonous cardio workouts, be gone! Mike Nicholson has garnered a following with his upbeat dance fitness classes

Jo Ellen Saunders is a 50-year-old mother and registered nurse. She also likes dancing to the hip-hop song "Shawty Get Loose," although she probably couldn't tell you who sings it (Lil Mama, T-Pain and Chris Brown).

"I like the music," she laughs, "but I'm not a big rapper. I'm just a kid at heart."

Saunders is an avid attendee of the cardio hip-hop classes that Life Time Fitness offers at its Easton and Dublin locations. The hour-long, energetic lessons (she drops 550 calories a class!) are led by choreographer Mike Nicholson, a trained dancer with a committed fan base.

"I have been following him ever since [my first class]," says Jaymie Collins, 28, an elementary school teacher who takes classes from Nicholson at Diamond Dance & Fitness and Urban Active. "Michael is a bold, vibrant character who walks around and encourages everyone."

While shaking what your momma gave you is always good for trimming the posterior, Nicholson shouts tips on how to take each step to its full fitness potential.

"I started out doing complex choreography in the classes, but people just wanted to get fit," Nicholson said. "So I started studying callisthenic movements and putting those into the routines."

The classes attract a diverse crowd in terms of fitness level, gender and race. And ages range from 8 to 85.

"It burns a lot of calories, but it's fun," Nicholson said. "They're seeing results, and I make it entertaining."