There was a time when curves were a must for beauty and the only way to get them for women was to slog it out and extract some benefit out of the otherwise dull chores. But, in the past couple of years, the concept of fitness has got a complete makeover and a slim, well toned physique has become the synonym for a healthy way of life.
‘Need to stay fit’, ‘eat right’, ‘want to hit the gym’, ‘you are overweight and need to shed some kilos’, ‘post partum weight is tough to reduce’… these are some of the phrases that have become commonplace. There are age-old practices like walking or jogging in the morning or doing asanas diligently under a guru. But the most trendy anti-fat mantra, especially among women, is to embrace one of the new-age dance forms to lose weight the fun way.
One crucial question is whether all those who are getting enrolled in Zumba classes or trying to learn Salsa have all the essential information about these dance techniques. The answer sadly is no. Sheela, a mother of two, is all animated when she talks about losing her post pregnancy flab, “I have joined Zumba, a dance form which focuses on fitness. It is great that there is a dance form for people like us who cannot go for classical dance forms. I have shed some kilos and I am also planning to join salsa as one of my friends told me that it helps you get perfect body shape.”
Sheela is not alone in harbouring such notions. But experts say Sheela and her ilk have got it completely wrong and some instructors are not helping matters in their quest to make quick bucks.
Arunima Gupta, founder of The Floor, dance and movement studio in Kochi, sets matters straight when she says, “People should understand the basic difference between an art form and a dance form. Zumba is not a dance form. It is just a combination of various functional steps taken out of different dance forms like Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba and other Afro-Latin dance forms.”
“Zumba actually is a brand like Nike or Adidas that makes fitness goods. Beto Perez was the one who found a fitness-dance programme and named it Zumba,” she adds.
As the programme got wide popularity, people started terming it a dance form. She also stresses that mastering any dance form requires a lot of practice and perseverance and it can never be a method to reduce weight or can be considered as merely a fitness activity. “Many women join my institute saying they would like to learn contemporary dance so that they can lose weight. It is unfortunate but I directly tell them that they should only attempt learning contemporary if they are genuinely interested in dancing and not to become slim. But yes, pursuing any dance form is a physical activity and anyone who practises it will definitely lose some calories. But it doesn’t mean that there is a dance form whose purpose is to help you shed weight,” she says.
Arunima adds that Zumba can only be taught by licensed trainers as it is a combination of various steps of various dance forms and only a properly trained instructor can make it work. However, the number of licensed Zumba instructors is very small and nowadays many gyms have started Zumba classes even though they lack trained instructors.
When asked if she knew these vital facts, Sheela admits, “I thought Zumba had Bollywood steps and therefore was easy. I never knew that it also has a technique and should be learnt from an instructor.”
Salsa instructor Praveen urges people to understand what they really want and to do only what is within their capacity. He adds that many in Kerala have a misconception that Salsa or any other non-Indian dance form is easier to master than say Bharatanatyam and facilitates weight loss. “This is entirely wrong. These dance forms have their own technicalities and difficulty levels and Salsa is a relatively slow form of dance when seen in connection with fitness because weight loss requires a lot of cardio and you need to sweat it out,” says Praveen.
Minu, who is a salsa dancer, opines that lack of dedicated institutes for non-Indian dance forms and the link sought to be brought between salsa or Bajatha with fitness centres is one of the reasons for fostering this misconception. “Those who have a flair for dancing only should attempt learning these dance forms. If someone is after fitness, then that person should do a lot of cardio, weight training and other physical activities to lose weight and stay healthy.”...