Get Your Groove On

Are there days when the sight of the treadmill makes you cringe and the very thought of a strenuous workout makes you want to wail? When it gets tough to keep your eye on the fitness prize, you simply need to change tracks.

Ok, so you’re a fitness freak. But day after day, the same exercise equipment and regime can rouse boredom in the best of us. Exercise bounds to get monotonous over time and is the leading reason why people do not stay committed to their fitness goals. Enter ‘dancercise’!

Dancing is a form of physical activity that uses almost every part of the body, offering a complete workout. You can choose a dance form to match your preferred pace and goal. Moving to music gets the endorphins rushing, thereby boosting memory, intelligence and making for a more sociable outlook.

Whatever your size or shape, hop onto the dance bandwagon to get moving and keep fit. Anybody can take up ‘dancercise’. Minor physical ailments can be worked around under the supervision of an experienced instructor. And no, there’s no pressure to move like Jagger.

Battle the Bulge Bollywood Style
Our Expert: Stephen Anthony, Choreographer at Bollywood Steps
Bahrain’s cinema halls are not the only proof of the Middle East being great fans of Indian cinema and music. Walk into any Bollywood dance and fitness class to see students from various backgrounds spin to catchy, foot-tapping numbers.

April-2014_Wellbeing1_1A typical dance session stretches, flexes and works the entire body, along with getting the heart pumping and pulse racing. Stephen strongly recommends a fast-paced, intense dance workout for aiding and maintaining weight loss.

“Women exercise and diet to shed weight, but that’s difficult to maintain,” he says. “A fast, fun workout like this one doesn’t need much convincing and helps you stay in shape.”

The greatest advantage, Stephen cites, is that due to the music and dance steps being changed every three classes, there is no danger of repetition. Add to that the thrill of emulating Bollywood divas. This form of exercise is exciting and thoroughly satiating.

Stephen and his co-choreographer Deepakshi hold classes for children, where young ones can be lured from their couches to get moving in a safe, enjoyable environment. Their classes for mums and children are well received, where they can laugh and bond over some amusing steps.

Shimmy to Raqs Sharqi
Our Expert: Khadejah El-Oueslati, International Performer and Instructor
Raqs Sharqi is the original name for what is broadly called ‘belly dancing’. Translated from Arabic, it means ‘Dance of the Orient’ and has caught on as a popular form of exercise these days. As intriguing as the history of Raqs Sharqi is how it can aid the female body when done regularly.

“To dance well, posture is important. You need to know how to stand up straight,” says Khadejah, who has been a student and teacher of this ethnic dance form for years.

Students learn to lift their chests so that the weight of the torso does not sit on the hips. She assesses and corrects a student’s posture before diving into the dance.

“It’s very important that they understand isolation,” she says.

Students need to recognise the movements of individual body parts and to separate the upper body from the lower half, as the dance form entails isolated movements of the neck, torso, hips and knees. The dance involves using muscles in the body that people are normally oblivious of.

“It’s fascinating to realise that your body can move in such a way. Practice makes perfect,” she adds.

All styles of Raqs Sharqi use the hands and arms a lot, strengthening the shoulders as a result. All in all, this dance form is a complete cardiovascular workout, not just for the belly.

“For fitness purposes, muscle memory is important. You have to keep repeating a movement in order to master it,” says Khadejah. Her ‘strictly ladies only’ sessions leave students with improved endurance, flexibility,
coordination and balance. Interestingly, this dance form when done over a period of time is believed to facilitate easy childbirth and ease
menstrual cramping.

The psychological advantages of this dance-exercise are remarkable. Belly dancing is all about freedom of expression and building confidence. The sensual hip-throws and elegant movements make women feel
more feminine.

As Khadejah puts it, “Everyone leaves feeling great about themselves.”

The Latino Way
Our expert: Amed Yazzin Ramirez Campos, Fitness Trainer
While Zumba has lately taken the fitness world by storm, Latin freestyle dance is different, in the sense that it is more of dance, than repetitive exercise. The aptly named ‘Latin Mix’ is an incorporation of various dance forms from the Latin quarters of the world, where Amed hails from.

“My sessions are a bit of merengue, salsa, bachata, cha cha and reggaeton,” says Amed.

His students often request him to make them sweat it out on popular hits, which may not necessarily be Latino, but Amed happily adapts the original Latin freestyle dance to new and popular rhythms.
After a dance warm-up, ladies get to move their bodies to the beats of the Cajon, a Peruvian percussion instrument, lending an interesting element to his session. This exercise routine is ideal for those who dream of owning washboard abs.

“People attend my classes to shape their bodies,” Amed says.

He guarantees that over time, this dance form primarily has stunning effects on one’s abs. It is beneficial for shaping and toning the waist and hips. A very intense one-hour session of pure dance can burn upto 600 calories. Amed believes that it is a highly effective stress buster.

“When the ladies are here, they concentrate on the music and the steps. They forget about their problems outside the class,” he says.

This naturally helps to tackle day-to-day issues better. Moreover, the risqué element of Latino dance makes the session a lively and fun workout, making ladies eagerly look forward to the next dance workout.

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