For those who aren’t keen on competitive sports or training solo in the gym, group dance classes can provide alternative means of getting your heart rate up in a fun, sociable way. While some classes, such as
hip-hop, offer the opportunity to learn real technique as well as getting a workout, others, such as Les Mills favourite BodyCombat, are no more than a way of combining cardio and music, and are ideal for beginners. Dance Fit, the city’s newest studio, offers a combination, with three different types of Zumba, plus Body Attack, belly dancing and hip-hop classes for adults, right down to ‘baby country and western’ for those aged three to five.
Located a few doors down from Dubai Garden Centre on Sheikh Zayed Road (near Gold and Diamond Park), above the Casa Nova furniture store, Dance Fit boasts a spacious studio with plenty of natural light and bright, colourful paint on the walls. Colombian Monica Pulgarin (pictured), one of Dubai’s best-known dance instructors, will be leading the class I’m taking part in – and who better to help me tame my two left feet?
Though I’d originally requested a belly-dancing lesson out of curiosity, I arrive to find myself swept into a Zumba class. I’ve never properly ventured into the world of cardio dance fitness before, so I’m just as much a beginner as I would have been at my intended belly-dance lesson.
Somewhere behind me, fast-paced Latin American-sounding music begins to blare and Monica starts leading the class. Just as I’d hoped, I’m not doing too badly: my steps are in time and, though my technique could use a little work (it’s fine, I’m a first-timer), I seem to have got the hang of it. For the first track, at least. Soon, however, I find myself slipping out of rhythm and suddenly I’m missing out entire moves. By the second song, I am well and truly lost, and struggling to work out whether I’m better off looking in the mirror at Monica, or trying to copy her by looking at only at her back. And if I wasn’t doing badly enough, my increased deliberation has served only to make things worse – it seems I’m now making up my own routine.
With relief, I notice the handful of women making up the rest of the class are politely ignoring my ineptitude – if they’re laughing heartily inside at my awkward bobbing around, they’re nice enough not to show it. I lurch around with all the grace of a newborn foal, momentarily picking up slivers of the routine and moving in time with my classmates, before losing my rhythm completely.
Fortunately, hysteria is kept at bay by the termination of the track, and I’m granted a few seconds’ reprieve before the third track begins. I look around, bashfully, and Monica shoots me an encouraging smile. As the third track picks up, she shouts encouragement and grins at me in the mirror when I get it right – and to my unending gratitude, it seems to work. I may not be the best dancer in the class, but at least it now looks as though I’m trying to do the same dance as everyone else, and I start to look less like a possible escapee from the nearest sanatorium.
Certainly, Zumba isn’t for everyone, but it’s easy to see how Monica has managed to acquire so many students since moving to Dubai. More than 3,000 people follow her on Facebook, and many more will be following her when Dubai residents attempt to break the world record for the largest Zumba class on Friday October 19 at Madinat Jumeirah. If you’re still looking for an activity that suits you, Zumba is worth a shot, and few instructors in the city can boast the same following as Monica.
Classes Dhs45 per session, Dhs800 for 20, Dhs1,000 unlimited. Dance Fit, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.dancefitme.com (055 928 4491).
Three more to try
This centre runs classes throughout the week, including evening sessions.
Monthly membership from Dhs350 for unlimited classes. Dreams Tower 2, Dubai Marina (04 422 5338).
A great variety of dance fitness classes at this studio, which also offers yoga and Pilates.
Dhs60 per class, Dhs550 for 10. Murjan 1, JBR (04 424 3777); Motor City (04 447 4220).
Instructor Juan Carlos holds Zumba classes, and Argentine tango, pole fitness and hip hop are also offered throughout the week.
Classes from Dhs80. Icon Tower, TECOM (050 474 6249).