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Columbus Commons Blog

A Fan Favorite Fitness Instructor Explained

Many of you may know Alexander Chang for his upbeat Kickboxing class at Columbus Commons, but what you may not know is that he’s a classically trained ballet dancer and he’s teaching a new class at the Commons this summer – Hip Hop! After a knee injury ended his ballet career, Alexander took up yoga and pilates instead of traditional physical therapy and in 2001 he moved from Northeast Ohio to Columbus and began studying martial arts. In 2007, in a dance fit class, he was approached by an instructor and asked why he wasn’t teaching. Alexander accepted the challenge and dove into teaching fitness classes, developing quite the following here in Columbus and at the Commons.

Surprisingly, Alexander’s introduction to the Commons wasn’t teaching at it; in fact, he was working for Franklin County in the Lazarus Building across the street from the Commons when City Center was demolished and Columbus Commons was built. He also used to live nearby the Commons and on runs he would take a detour along its paths, enjoying a different view than just passing skyscrapers. So when a fellow fitness instructor and friend, Mitch Potterf, reached out to Alexander about teaching a class at the Commons, his interest was piqued.

Alexander describes two types of instructors, “those who are in it for the celebrity and those who are all about the individuals who show up and elevating their lives through the class.” Alexander is most certainly the second. When considering Mitch’s offer to teach at the Commons, Alexander was excited by the prospect that the classes would be free, making his classes available to a broader group of people than normally take his classes. For Alexander, this means, “There’s no excuse to come down and work out.”

In case you think you can’t handle one of Alexander’s workouts, guess again. He carefully designs his classes based on a few simple questions: Can my grandmother do this? Is it going to be challenging and engaging enough for someone who just ran the Cap City Half Marathon? Is it doable for someone who’s just starting off? Throughout his classes, Alexander will look around at every participant and gauge – especially when the temperatures get hot in the summer – if they’re struggling or if it’s too easy for them and adjust accordingly. He sums up his philosophy perfectly, “Every single person has to get something out of that experience to keep them coming back throughout the summer, and even after the summer ends and the weather turns. It’s necessary in this day in age to stay physical.”

And to keep things all about the Commons, Alexander even incorporates music from artists who will perform at Columbus Commons into his fitness classes. Last year it was Idina Menzel, who performed at Picnic with the Pops, and this year it’ll be Chaka Khan, who will be performing with at Picnic this summer. This is just his way of plugging what he calls “all great stuff that goes on at the Commons that’s super different and exciting.”

So, remember, when you come down for a fitness class at the Commons, follow Alexander’s three simple rules:

  1. Be sure you’re hydrated and have plenty of water to drink throughout the class
  2. No need to go out and spend a lot of money but be sure to wear clothing that’s comfortable and workout appropriate. Try a fabric that will keep you cool and moves easily.
  3. Eat before working out – but not immediately before hand! You’ll need fuel for your workout, so be sure to eat lunch.

Alexander Chang teaches free Kickboxing on Wednesdays from 5:30pm until 6:30pm and then Hip Hop immediately following from 6:30pm to 7:30pm. Registration is required. To register and for more information, click here.