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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

Hop, skip and pump for fitness

Petrina D’Souza, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, February 05, 2013
First Published: 12:57 IST(5/2/2013) | Last Updated: 15:31 IST(5/2/2013)

Though your New Year’s resolution is to get fitter, you still haven’t made your first trip to the gym yet. The reason — you aren’t zealous enough to pay regular visits to the gym and subject your body to those heavy duty workouts. But what if there is a way to get fitter without actually doing those hard-core exercises? Simple, just try out some of these fun workouts and get your resolution started.

Swiss ball workouts
A Swiss ball (also called stability ball or exercise ball), allows a form of workout in which the body indulges in rigorous muscle movements, responding to the instability of the ball. The ball is the equipment used for exercising. Compared to exercising on a flat surface, this workout engages more muscles.You can exercise using the Swiss ball at home as well. Just choose a ball as per your height — 55 cm for those between 4’11” and 5’4”, 65 cm for people between 5’4” and 5’7” and 75 cm for people between 5’11” and 6’7”. Regular exercises like push-ups, crunches, triceps, dips and squats can be tried at home, using the exercise ball as a support.

Benefits: You can improve strength and balance with an exercise ball. “Stability balls are great for getting back into shape after an injury because they can reduce muscle and spinal strain during certain movements,” says Althea Shah, fitness expert at Gold’s Gym. They are effective at targeting those muscles that are essential for body stability and the right posture. “Ball exercises also help build flexibility and stamina,” adds Jitendra Patil, a trainer at Talwalkars Gym.

Zumba
“Zumba is a Latin-inspired fitness program, done with music and easy-to-follow dance steps. It helps build stamina,” says Hetall Madhiwalla, fitness expert and founder of fitness studio Frequencee. Created by dancer and choreographer Alberto Perez during the 1990s, Zumba choreography incorporates hip-hop, salsa, martial arts, Bollywood and belly dance, among other dance forms. “As Zumba offers different options, it is safe for all ages,” says Althea Shah, fitness expert at Gold’s Gym. “Some of the classes are specifically designed for elderly people, to help them build strength, and improve motion and posture.”

Benefits: An hour long Zumba workout can help you burn 300 to 600 calories, thus helping you lose weight. “And since Zumba is an exercise in disguise, you don’t even realise that you are working out, as it creates a party–like atmosphere,” says Madhiwalla. The entire body is exercising during the sessions that help in burning extra fat. “As all the different rhythms in Zumba engage the core muscles, one’s body reaps the benefit of a shapely mid-section,” explains Shah.

Belly dancing
If you’re determined to tone up your abs, this one’s for you. “While you’re wiggling and jiggling your hips; you’re getting a good ab workout that sculpts almost every single muscle in your core,” says Althea Shah, fitness expert at Gold’s Gym. Just 10 minutes a day can help you get a toned stomach.

Benefits: Besides being a fun workout and something new to learn, belly dancing has a lot of benefits. It improves body posture, tones the muscles and increases metabolic rate. The fast movements of the hips and shoulders get your heart pumping, offering cardiovascular benefits. “You can burn up to 300 calories per hour, depending on the intensity of your dancing,” says Shah. It also helps reduce the stress levels as belly dancing requires a lot of concentration and a relaxed mindset.

Masala Bhangra
This is the new entrant to dance-fitness workouts. Created and designed by fitness expert Sarina Jain, it combines cardiovascular exercise with dance moves. “It incorporates high energy bhangra and Bollywood dance movements in a simple fitness format,” explains Hetall Madhiwalla, fitness expert and founder of fitness studio Frequencee.

Benefits: You can burn up to 500 calories per class, which means you could lose weight. “Thousands of people have become physically active,” says Madhiwalla. The workout helps tone and condition the body and builds stamina.

Aqua aerobics
If you are a swimmer or love being in the pool, aqua aerobics is a good option to help you get fitter. Aqua or water aerobics involves aerobic exercise in shallow water. You need not know how to swim to participate.

Benefits: “It is an excellent method to burn unwanted flab from the body and build inner strength,” says Althea Shah, fitness expert at Gold’s Gym. Water aerobics also increases muscle strength because water provides a natural resistance to your movements. It improves breathing patterns as your lungs are forced to work harder due to water’s pressure. The use of water in this workout also reduces the risk of a muscle or joint injury.


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