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Erica Nix Is Austin’s Antidote to Dreary Gym Culture and Is an Icon of Inclusion

Aerobics instructor with a major ‘80s vibe is carrying out her mission “to make working out fun again” with humor, body-positive messages, and fierce advocacy for marginalized groups. 

Erica Nix leads a Splashdance workout (photo by John Leach)

Exuberance, energy, self-love, and inclusion—put them all together and you get a sense of who Erica Nix is and how she makes others feel. Austin’s guru of gleeful gaiety, Nix infuses her classes with bucketfuls of fun. She makes everyone at her classes feel loved and welcome while they actually get a good workout. 

Nix wants every adult to know they are welcome, regardless of fitness level or body type, noting “A lot of times, people are intimidated to show up at the gym unless they are already ripped. I want my classes to be about letting go of that perfectionism, so I use comedy and uplifting language in my classes to change that up.” Nix’s messages of self-love and body positivity aren’t your typical Pollyanna-style toxic positivity; she stands up for others, especially in the LGBTQ+ community, with advocacy and activism. 

Workout with Erica Nix

Catch Nix leading her classes around town or online in fabulous, colorful leotards with raunchy humor and love for all. She exudes a genuine desire to help her class participants immerse themselves fully in the joy of moving their bodies and the body-positive affirmations she drops throughout her classes. Her energetic enthusiasm and silly, sexy humor is contagious. It’s difficult to imagine anyone leaving an Erica Nix workout without a gigantic smile on their face. 

There are several ways you can catch a workout dance class with Nix. Her insanely popular Splash Dance series at the Austin Motel pool regularly sells out. She has held these phenomenally fun classes at this iconic South Congress location for five years now, every Sunday throughout summer and usually September, too. While her classes look currently sold out, through August she will announce last minute available spots first to her Patreon members and in her newsletter, and then social media. She recently took Splash Dance on the road to Houston, hosting a class in conjunction with the Orange Show at the Heights House Hotel. 

Another way to get in on the fun is through Nix’s free dance cardio SwiftFit classes at Republic Square every other Saturday morning from 9 – 10 a.m. Nix creates cheerful exercise experiences designed to leave you sweaty and feeling strong and sexy in your own skin. She still holds weekly Zoom workouts via her $10/month Patreon—only $1/month for BIPOC. And you can always check out her YouTube channel or follow her on social media. Keep an eye on her pages or sign up for her newsletter to stay in the loop, as she is always adding new events. 

Erica Nix with Rocky Lane (photo by HankNTank)

From punk rock to pep talk

While her classes are delivered with a mixture of performance art and improv plus a nod to the era that spawned Jane Fonda, Richard Simmons, and Jazzercise, she is a certified personal trainer. The health benefits are real, although the massively good vibes may be all one feels in the moment. Erica Nix explains that she teaches “like Mary Poppins: with a spoonful of sugar, I can make it super fun so you don’t notice you’re doing something good for your body.” 

Nix first started doing her performance art dance workouts on stage as an added visual element during her friends’ garage punk rock band shows. The vibe was kind of naughty go-go dancer. She soon realized she loved performing and wanted to keep doing that, minus the destructive elements she had added to her act with the band. Twelve years ago, Nix began posting her exercise videos on YouTube, where they took off quickly. Soon, people were inviting her to teach classes in their studios. 

The pieces then soon started falling into place. After all, it was right up her alley. She taught for a while to packed rooms at the Center Spot on North Loop. She soon launched a fitness space, called Transform, with co-teacher Rocky Lane, a trans man, with the goal of creating a safe workout space for the LGBTQ+ community, although everyone was welcome. With continued success, Nix realized she wanted to get some credentials under her belt so she could better help her class participants, her “queerdos and weirdos,” improve their health through her workouts. 

Erica Nix at Splashdance (photo by John Leach)

Erica Nix is too legit to quit

With the goal of leveling up her own skills, Nix attended St. Edward’s University and earned her BA in Exercise Science and personal training certification in 2014. While she loved teaching classes and being on a stage of sorts, Nix knew the added training would help her grow professionally. After all, she laughs, “I was a theater kid; I did not come from a sports-playing background.” 

While her Transform fitness studio closed down in 2019, whatever Nix is doing seems to be working. She has not slowed down one bit. She has won Austin Chronicle awards in the past, for Best Ambassador of Body Positivity and Best Personal Trainer. She’s garnered loads of press praising her classes and messaging, from publications such as Texas Monthly, Austin Chronicle, Austin Monthly, and the Austin-American Statesman

Erica Nix’s in-person and online classes are always full of students ready to feel that cardio burn and wrap themselves in the warm embrace that is her personal sunshine glow and messages of love. Nix’s mind is as active as her body, and she is always finding new ideas and venues for her classes. Her latest planned venture, with Rocky Lane, will be creating a workout class for multiple abilities, with exercises geared toward people in wheelchairs, amputees, and those suffering from invisible ailments such as multiple sclerosis and arthritis. These specialized classes will include guest instructors with these same multiple abilities. 

During the lockdown, Nix took another kind of class: hypnosis. In hypnosis school, Nix learned something that she knew instinctively and had noticed in her classes. When the body is in motion, particularly with something as joyful as dancing, our brains kind of zone out. In this relaxed, daydreamy mental state, our minds are more open to receiving positive messaging. That’s right, our bodies become susceptible to internalizing the delightful, uplifting messages Nix sprinkles throughout her classes in a therapeutic way. 

Erica Nix at Trans-Pecos Festival (photo by Chad Wadsworth)

Activism and advocacy

Erica Nix takes her LGTBQ+ advocacy and activism seriously, because she is adamant about helping to create a safe space for all, not only in her classes, but everywhere. Since the early days of her fitness guru awakening, she knew she wanted to be a voice for marginalized populations. Throughout her career, that has looked like opening the first queer-centric fitness space with Transform, running briefly for Mayor of Austin in 2022 to fight for equal rights, and dance protests at City Hall. She posted this 2021 Pride workout with her frequent co-instructor, Rocky Lane, to raise money and awareness for OutYouth.

If you find yourself wanting to ride the good vibes of love, acceptance, silliness, and actual cardio classes, sign up for Nix’s newsletter, sign up for her Patreon, or keep an eye on her pages. We all deserve a little more dancing and self-love.