Dancing their way to fitness

Zumba way

Dancing their way to fitness

Nearly everyone wants to stay healthy, and everyone wants to lose weight. But most people can’t find it in them to exercise after a long day’s work. But there are no second thoughts when one has to go to a party and dance till they drop. So, if dancing wildly is the only way to get some exercise, one might as well head over to a Zumba class and learn how to move coordinately. Zumba, a trend that is flying higher by the day, is a well-made mixture of various dance forms and aerobics.

Shwetamabari Shetty, a certified Zumba instructor in the City, explains the young exercise routine, “There are four basic rhythms we teach — merengue, salsa, reggaeton and cumbia. We teach people how to incorporate fitness into the basics of these dance forms.” She was one of the first to realise the potential of Zumba in India. “After I spent many years in the banking and corporate sector, I decided to try something new. I believe that when one gets too comfortable, complacency sets in and that’s when they need to move. So, I started working at a luxury health club and attended various workouts to be better at my job. This was in 2010; my boss pushed me to get a certification in Zumba because it was becoming popular at the time. I attended a two-day certification course, rather reluctantly. But little did I know that those two days would eventually bring me a lot of happiness,” she adds.

Another instructor, Sahana Jagannath, talks about why she fell in love with Zumba. “With a background in dance, there was always this inclination towards dance fitness. At the very first Zumba class I saw, I feel in love with the music, choreography and the party ambiance that’s there. After six months as a student, I decided I want to be a Zumba instructor.”

There are some dos and don’ts, like in everything, that a Zumba enthusiast should keep in mind. Says Shaila Bhat, “As Zumba is cardio fitness, one should incorporate strength training in their fitness routine. One should also have a banana or few almonds 30 minutes before the class to get that energy going till the end.” Comfortable cotton or form-fitting attire, a bottle of water and a towel are also needed. “The most important thing is to have fun and feel the music!” she adds. When it comes to the don’t, Shaila says that one shouldn’t be too self-conscious. “It’s fine if you are not coordinated — what really matters is that you are working out and having fun. Also, don’t overdo if you have any health issue. Inform the instructor before the class. And most importantly — don not stop moving!”

Since it combines many types of dances, is it necessary to be a good dancer (or will two left feet work)? Harshita Raviraj, a trainer, says, “Absolutely not! Although it is a little easier for someone to pick it up if they have a knack for dancing, it is not a must. It’s all about being comfortable and having fun while you move!” To which, Naveen Krishnaswamy adds, “That is what I thought before I became a Zumba instructor, but then realised that you need not be a good dancer — you just need to work on your skills in training.”

Shwetamabari elaborates that Zumba is for all. “A great dancer may not be a great teacher and a great teacher may not be a great dancer. One needs a balance. So we don’t need you to be a great dancer. If you can just dance, the absolute basic, we can teach you to be good at Zumba. We have Zumba for kids and adults. One hour of Zumba helps you burn anything between 500 to 1,000 calories.”

She also mentions that it has changed the fitness trend around the world and for people who do not believe exercise is necessary, it is making them workout and look forward to their workout. “You do so much dancing in a Zumba class that your overall mind and body co-ordination becomes better, your posture improves, you feel good about yourself and feel more confident,” she says.

As a sign-off, Shwetamabari adds, “It is not a dance class, it is a fitness class. The class has to be an hour, non-stop. There is no stopping after every song, teaching the steps etc. As a participant, one must know that it will take three to four classes to get used to it. The training methodology is high-low so that a class can accommodate people of different age groups and different fitness levels and to ensure maximum calorie burn. It does not have jumps or movements that can lead to injuries. We use simple steps with bigger range of motion to add intensity.”

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