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Photo contributed by Antonio McMath / Antonio McMath leads a step aerobics class at Our House Studios in Ringgold.

For Antonio McMath, kidney disease isn't a statistic. It's the faces of many people he knows.

His father suffered from the disease, as did his wife's father before receiving a new kidney several months ago.

"They found him in a closet passed out with kidney disease," McMath said of his father-in-law's surprise diagnosis. "He went from working on the railroad to where he couldn't do anything because of dialysis."

Kidney disease can have effects ranging from shortness of breath to weakened bones to death. It affects 37 million people nationwide, including one of the young men McMath mentors through his personal workout-centered "Transform" program, who has dealt with kidney disease since the age of 4 or 5, McMath said.

In honor of those close to him and to support others dealing with kidney disease, McMath began volunteering with the local Kidney Foundation around eight years ago, dancing in the nonprofit's annual Dare to Dance fundraising competition.

"It's a good cause and I get to see where that money is going to help those families," he said.

His background in dance made him a natural. He now serves as a "pro dancer," partnering with a well-known local to develop and perfect a choreographed routine for the main event.

McMath draws on his interest and formal training in both ballroom dance and hip-hop — the latter of which he is incorporating into a fundraiser for the foundation.

On Saturday, July 25, he will lead classes that combine step aerobics and hip-hop at Our House Studios in Ringgold, where he routinely teaches the popular hybrid class and offers personal training. Interested participants are asked for a minimum $10 donation for the hourlong class, which McMath will then give to the Kidney Foundation.

"Every dime goes directly to the foundation to help families," he said.

"Its a little different than what you've seen with step (aerobic) classes. We come off the boxes and just have some fun."

The class is appropriate for all fitness levels. His regular classes on Tuesdays and Saturdays have seen 7-year-olds to 60-something-year-olds, he said. And while it started almost as a joke, the first formal class he offered saw 20 people sign up, a number that's remained fairly consistent since then.

The fundraising classes have room for roughly 25 participants, though McMath said he's already had some interest. Participants can sign up at ourhousestudiosinc.com or show up before the first class of the day, which will kick off at 11 a.m. If there's not room in that class, McMath said he'll add them to the scheduled 12:15 p.m. class, and if there's enough interest, he'll add a 1:15 p.m. class.

Guests will have their temperature checked upon entry and are asked to bring their own water and towel. Hand sanitizer stations will be spread throughout the facility.

"It's fun and gets people moving, and you can still come out and feel like you're interacting with people and not cooped up," McMath said of the idea behind the fundraiser. "With the boxes, we can actually separate out six feet apart. Your box is your own space."

Our House Studios is at 4009 Cloud Springs Road.

Contact Jennifer Bardoner at jbardoner@timesfreepress.com.

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Photo contributed by Antonio McMath / Antonio McMath is seen with his 2020 Dare to Dance partner, Lauren Baird. So far, he said, the signature fundraising event, scheduled for Oct. 3, has not been canceled.
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