Zumba education instructor Nizaam Khan describes the fitness regime as a Latin-inspired fitness party: “You just lose yourself in the music. Some people come to classes simply to de-stress.” The Colombian-based fitness programme, created by dancer and choreographer Alberto “Beto” Perez in the 1990s, involves a fusion of aerobics and dance, including hip hop, samba, salsa and merengue, with some belly dancing and Bollywood-inspired moves. The music adds to the fun and energy in the classes, which Khan describes as medium to high-impact and which everyone can enjoy, regardless of age or fitness level. There are no beginners’ classes, so expect it to be a bit difficult at first, but eliminate the hand movements at the start and concentrate on getting the feet right, he suggests.
Recently Khan challenged a group of women to attend his classes three times a week for a month, without dieting or taking weight loss supplements, and each lost at least 5kg.
His classes take place at the Mixim Squash Courts in Belgravia Road, Athlone, Cape Town, at 6.30pm on Tuesdays and Fridays, and at 9am on Saturdays. He also has a class at the Athlone Civic Centre at 6.30pm every Wednesday.
The brainchild of Fataana Wilson, Dancersize is a form of aerobics with a dance twist, performed to catchy tunes.
“I try and incorporate all the muscle groups, but in a dance form accompanied by music… I use all genres of dance, both old and new, with catchy music,” she says.
Wilson has designed her classes to ensure unfit people won’t be left gasping for air but the fitter ones won’t be bored.
“I try to keep everyone stimulated and interested throughout, and each one goes at their own pace,” she says.
Her clients include women older than 70.
She starts each class with a low-impact warm-up and stretch, followed by a slow cha-cha. From there, the energy picks up with faster steps to popular tunes, such as Waka Waka and Gangnam Style.
To prevent the class from being monotonous and to reduce strain, she adds toning in between the more energetic dance routines. “I always teach the step first before going full out.”
Dancersize tones and shapes the body, so expect to lose more centimetres than weight while fitness and flexibility levels improve.
Classes are strictly for women, says Wilson, a qualified instructor who has a diploma in fitness and nutrition, and a degree in dance.
Classes, at R20 a session, take place at The Venue, corner of Denver and Lansdowne roads in Lansdowne, at 9.30am and 6.30pm on Mondays and Wednesdays. She also has a 7pm class every Tuesday.
Michelle Hendricks, well-known in the entertainment industry as a principal performer, dance instructor and a choreographer at Belly Phunk Oriental dance school, fell in love with belly dancing in 2005.
“I have always been a dancer, training in various dance disciplines during my early years, including modern dancing, contemporary dancing and hip hop.
“In 2005 I went through a very emotional and trying time and needed to try something new, something to regain my self-love. Belly dancing became that therapeutic experience,” she says.
And, as a bonus, she lost 10kg.
Now she offers others the same opportunity with classes teaching belly dancing technique and BellyRobics – an upbeat dance class which focuses on core strength, body conditioning, toning and weight loss.
The medium- to high-impact classes are for women of all shapes and sizes, regardless of their fitness levels.
“There are no holds barred. My oldest student is 65 years old,” she says.
Classes begin with a 10 to 15-minute warm-up session, followed by belly dance technique at medium tempo. She finishes off with a 10-minute cool down and stretch.
The BellyRobics classes are similarly structured, except they include a session of high-impact dance movements and floor work.
“Some ladies lost up to 14kg in a few months. Coupled with a healthy eating plan, one can definitely lose weight,” Hendricks says.
Classes take place at The Wellness Station in Plumstead at 7.15pm every Monday, at The Dance Domain in Kenilworth at 7pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and at The Figure Maintain Spa in Grassy Park at 7pm on Wednesdays. Packages for the classes start from R250 a month. - Sunday Argus