It can be an intimidating move to walk into a cardio hip hop dance class. Fitness Instructor Tamara Jenkins at 24 Hour Fitness in Southlake said her class is packed week after week.
“It is definitely a workout,” Jenkins said. “You see all sizes, shapes, colors. You see a little bit of everything.”
What you don’t usually see is someone who can dance like Samantha Ross.
“Dance has always been part of my life,” Ross, 27, said. “I was born with spina bifida, so I had a hole in my back. My first surgery was at 11 hours old. I could walk up until 4th grade,” Ross said.
Severe scoliosis confined Ross to a wheelchair, but incredibly, she feels more free than restricted.
“I found dancing as an outlet to workout, have fun, and it's become a hobby of mine,” said Ross, who danced on her middle and high school drill teams and even took a modern dance class in college.
All that training led her to Jenkins’ hip hop classes.
“I've had countless people say, ‘Oh she can't do that, she can't do that.’ And then when I go out [on a dance floor] they go, 'Oh, you can do that,'" Sam said.
Ross’ remarkable ability to alter movement made her really stand out.
“I have been teaching this class for 12 years,” Jenkins said. “I had seen Sam around the gym… and she came in and I was like, okay, she came into the hip hop class- alright.”
But from the moment she stepped into class, Ross never skipped a beat.
“If someone's doing something with their feet, I'll try to adapt it to my upper body,” Ross said. “I just kind of came up with my own little style, and it's worked for me.”
Jenkins also noted that Ross even helps others in the class who might find themselves having trouble learning or remembering the choreography.
“She blew me away,” Jenkins said. “I mean, she was killing it. She was getting the moves, she was having a good time, and she made it her own.”
Last spring, Jenkins choreographed a dance highlighting Ross’ talent.
Her precision and passion earned Ross quite a bit of attention from fans online.
“Are you the girl from the video? Are you the wheelchair girl? Are you Sam? A lot of...are you Sam? Or hashtag wheelchair hip hop. A lot of that lately," said a grinning Ross.
The spotlight is more than okay with her. Ross believes that this may all be part of God’s bigger plan.
“I don't let anything stop me,” Ross said. “I want to make a difference with my life. So, if I can inspire just one person then I've done my job.”
By the looks of things, she’s doing a fine job.
“She's a total inspiration, and she's just an all-around awesome person,” Jenkins said. “There's people who come in and they've never taken a class before, and you see Sam helping them with the moves.”
Ross wants other people to know that if she can do it, so can they. Dancing to motivate others to get up and move – while at the same time, to inspire herself.
“To amaze myself...if I'm feeling self-doubt one day, I can come in, let it all out, and say I did that, I'm awesome,” Ross said. “And that makes others feel awesome as well.”