The jury on the pandemic’s impact on the fitness culture is out. While home gyms saved the day, let’s not forget the most cheerful workout of all — dance. Here’s your guide to dance forms that’ll get you fit while having fun, and all in the safety of your home 

POLE DANCING

Dance Fitness

Yes, guys, pole dancing for fitness is a very real thing. And do men pole dance? Hell yeah. The enthusiastic men at MW also took a pole dancing class last year before the pandemic, and had a blast. 

Tania Sudan, a pole dance trainer in New Delhi, has had a lot of male students before lockdown during classes at her studio. They wanted to have a separate batch for men, but then lockdown struck. Sudan continues to teach privates at home, but given the restriction of space and safety due to the pandemic, she’s had to keep the number of students at home limited.

“Pole dancing takes care of every fitness aspect you can think of. It’s great cardio, helps with toning your body, weight loss, strength training, flexibility. It’s a combination of everything. Additionally, it also requires you to start developing grip, because so many of the body parts — your hips, elbows, crotch — help you to hold on to the pole. So even muscles you didn’t know existed are a part of it. 

There are so many benefits to pole fitness, she adds. “It helps build confidence, because people start liking their bodies, they become stronger, so it has a lot of emotional and mental endurance as well.”

However, pole fitness does require some training, Sudan says. “I wouldn’t advise just getting a pole at home, because of the injuries that can take place on the pole. As a beginner, you can start working on your core strength and flexibility before going to your pole class if you like, as it will definitely be complimentary, but it’s not a prerequisite for taking the class. I provide online and offline classes, as well as so many others do. Maybe you can clear your basics in an offline class, and then join online classes to continue,” she advises.

HULA HOOPING

Dance Fitness

So much fun, so tiring, and such a good workout hula hooping can be. Supriya Srivastav, a hula hoop artiste and trainer, confirms that hula hooping has picked up during the pandemic, and she has a lot of male students who don’t directly reach out for classes, but are learning by watching her tutorial videos on YouTube and via Instagram. “I have been teaching offline to men amongst friends and family, including my father, who happened to pick up hooping now at 63 years of age, and is enjoying a lot,” she adds.

Gunjan Saraf, a juggler and hula hooping artiste, says men usually take up hula hooping out of curiosity more than fitness goals. “Internationally also, to the best of my knowledge, so far most guys who take it up do it as a performing art or as an additional flow art to complement their primary flow arts,” he adds.

Srivastava says that the health and wellness benefits of hula hooping are lesser known. “I started hula hooping six years ago and when I saw its fitness benefits by losing 10 kgs myself, I realised its potential. I developed a course that’s built to align your energy, work on strength building, and overall fitness,” she adds.

Saraf has a similar opinion, as he directs me to a research piece; The American Council for Exercise (ACE) had done a study on whether hooping was just child’s play or serious exercise, and the data pertains to intermediate to advanced level hooping. “A friend, who is a nutritionist, has helped quite a few people shape up by recommending 30 minutes a day of waist hooping. I found that most of these people had tremendous trouble reaching the benchmark of 30 minutes. And they got tremendous results in terms of weight loss while they struggled to get to the mark. Also hip hooping and upper thigh hooping engage your core muscles,” he says.

Saraf had broken both bones in his right wrist in 2017. After basic physiotherapy,  hooping has continued to be his form of physiotherapy, and has helped him improve and extend the range of movements for that hand or arm. 

“On an average of one hour of your on-body practice, you can expect to burn around 350-400 calories, but it entirely depends on the intensity of your training, of course. On-body hula hooping begins with focusing on your core, which is the energy center connected to all the meridians in your body,” explains Srivastava.

This at-home time is the best time to pick up a hoop. Srivastava explains how. 

“A major misconception is that you can hoop with any size of hoop. Not entirely true. As a beginner, you cannot hoop with any size, and need to pick the right size. How to do that? There are videos that’ll show you the right way to pick a hoop, and also link to places you can buy the hoop from,” she guides.

DANCE HIIT / CARDIO

Dance Fitness

Anyone who has ever attempted Zumba or any dance cardio can tell you that it’s exhausting, and so energetic. Yes, you enjoy it, but you feel the burn as well, and need to catch a breath. Anushka Nandani, co-founder at The Tribe India, has had male clients right from the get go of her professional career. A lot of male clients are skeptical at first, but once they try this form of exercise, they enjoy it, and become regulars.  

Nandani says that Zumba and dance cardio, both being fast paced cardio routines, have numerous benefits. “The music helps your mind relax, while your body is in constant motion. It helps you stay at a constant target heart rate, which aids fat burn, is great for building stamina, and for cardiovascular health. It works to strengthen the entire body, and particularly, helps gain immense core strength, while also shedding fat from the arms, legs, and glutes. With respect to the calories this workout burns, it depends on the intensity level, and can’t be given a fixed bracket as everyone’s body type is different, and loses weight in a different way,” she explains.

Dance fitness and cardio is the easiest dance form to implement at home. Nandani agrees, and thanks the power of technology for us to be able to pick up online tutorials, YouTube videos, as well as join classes for dance cardio, Zumba, and aerobics. An easy and fun way to stay fit and sane, one can say. 

BELLY DANCING

Dance Fitness

Men belly dance? Absolutely. Even more so when you know what a killer workout it can be for your abs, core, and more. You may have recently seen Sanjana Muthreja in Shanaya Kapoor’s videos, Muthreja says she does see more men approaching belly dancing, but as a fitness form, not so much as a hobby. “Most of the inquiries are for fitness, or by dancers who have a requirement to incorporate belly dance in their routines. Sometimes, men who have been advised to strengthen their core by doctors also have approached to train,” she adds.

Sravan Telu, a trainer and activist, has had a different experience. “I have seen men taking up this art form more as a passion. I have never seen men learning belly dance just to get fit. People often think of belly dancing as a fitness exercise. But in reality, it is more than that. We get to control our body,” he explains.

Giving an overview of how belly dancing works as a fitness dance form, Muthreja explains, “Belly dance assists weight loss. If you belly dance continuously for an hour, you can burn around 250-300 calories. It’s more of a toning program. Belly dancing not only focuses on the core, but also helps in strengthening and shaping the arms, waist, obliques, helps in correcting posture, etc. It’s a great workout for the legs as well — when you’re slightly squatting while doing some hip movements, it helps in strengthening and toning the legs. Belly dancing also aids lower back issues if you engage your core, and hold the postures correctly.”

Belly dancing is yet another form of dance fitness one can totally implement at home through online classes. “Online learning has bridged the location gap, and people from all around the world are now learning from me,” she says, and Sravan also adds that his dance company is also teaching online. Belly dancing is surely the best way to accept yourself, love yourself, and nurture yourself.