Taking a break in the middle of her workday, tax consultant Payal Shivnani heads out for her daily workout. Not to the gym, but to the Arts in Motion dance academy at Sion.
There, she spends 90 minutes doing a Bollywood jazz workout with a twist of aerobics, to the beat of the latest Hindi film numbers.
“I don't really like gyms. So when I decided that I needed to lose weight, I signed up for a thrice-a-week dance class,” says the svelte 28-year-old. “It’s been two years and I enjoy it so much that I recently added another two days to my weekly dance schedule.”
In addition to losing unwanted flab, Shivnani says the dancing has helped her tone her muscles and improve her stamina.
“Dancing has given me a fitness routine that I look forward to,” she says, “and that is important if you want to sustain your regimen in the long term.”
Arts in Motion founder Anchal Shetty says she introduced the aerobic Bollywood jazz workout seven years ago when people were beginning to see dance as a workout.
“Dance gives your body an all-round workout and gets the heart pumping, giving you a great cardiovascular workout,” says fitness expert and aqua specialist Deepali Jain. “It also strengthens muscles and improves flexibility, minimising the risk of wear and tear, even in senior citizens and children.”
“In addition to popular ‘dancercise’ routines, even ballroom dancing and belly dancing can build endurance levels, tone muscles and help keep fit,” says choreographer and dance teacher Sandip Soparrkar. “Dance forms such as jazz, cha cha, jive and samba are vigorous routines, which can give you an excellent workout while you have fun.”
Ballroom dancing can help tighten calf muscles, tone the body and improve posture.
Forms such as rumba, foxtrot and tango are good for fitness or dance beginners, since they start out slow and pick up pace gradually.
“With dance, you realise how much you can push your body. You can tell that your stamina is improving as you begin to dance for longer periods without panting or taking a break,” says Soparrkar.
For homemaker Jyoti Avlani, 37, dance has become a form of socialisation and self-expression and has taken her fitness routine to the next level. Always fitness-conscious, Avlani incorporated morning walks and yoga sessions in her daily routine since she was in college. In her late 20s, however, she found that her slowing metabolism had started affecting her toned muscles.
She joined a gym near her Vile Parle home but quit within a week. “It was too monotonous,” says the mother of two. That's when she rediscovered a girlhood passion — dance. She now attends a belly dancing class four times a week, and has also been learning Bharata Natyam for the past two years.
The shimmies, waves and figure eights of belly dancing help tone your abs and strengthen your core muscle groups, says instructor Priti Kochar. “Belly dancing is not so much about moving the belly as holding the belly still and moving the surrounding body parts, which is very good exercise,” says Kochar.
For Avlani, belly dancing has helped her lose weight, improve her posture and tone her muscles, while the Bharata Natyam has helped strengthen her feet and keeps her muscles supple. “My passion for dancing has turned into my fitness mantra,” says Avlani with a smile.