Is Bollywood the new Zumba?

Kriti Dance
Kriti Agarwal with other dancers dressed in traditional Bollywood clothing. Photo Courtesy Kriti Dance.

Bollywood dancing —fists pumping in the air, crazy mad core gyrations and furious cardio bursts — is quickly becoming the new Zumba for exercise enthusiasts, spreading much like the Latin American dance that sparked one of the biggest exercise crazes of the last decade.

“Bollywood teaches simple and fun dance steps that everyone can catch on to,” said Kriti Agarwal, who runs one of the state’s oldest Bollywood dance studios, Chandler’s Kriti Dance.

Agarwal said Bollywood dancing is similar to Zumba: both are energetic, aerobic and fun, promoting fitness and an ethnic culture — Indian for Bollywood, Latin American for Zumba.

The classes combine cardio, stretching and aerobics, which help build stamina, strength and endurance.

“The fitness factor is automatically incorporated with our fast, energetic steps,” Agarwal explained. “Overall, our Bollywood dance classes aim for physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.”

Dance is central to many Bollywood films produced in India’s largest film-producing city Mumbai, which once was Bombay. Bollywood gets its name from Bombay and Hollywood.

Agarwal said her studio offers “a fusion and variety of styles with Bollywood as the base essence.” She opened her Kriti Dance eight years ago and has seen in grow mostly by word of mouth from people who took the classes. Her one-hour, high-impact classes average 10 to 15 participants ranging in age from 5 years old to middle-aged adults.

“Our students say they burn 700 to 800 calories in one hour,” Agarwal said. “We do not officially measure calories burned since everyone has different experience levels. However judging by their sweat and fluid consumption, it may be close.”

Some dance instructors around the state are integrating Bollywood moves into their Zumba classes. It’s a natural progression, said Patricia Martelly, who teaches Zumba at Adaptive Force Performing Arts in Scottsdale.

“Zumba is comprised of various rhythms: merengue, salsa, cumbia, reggaeton and samba, all Latin American styles, but many times there are also African influences and Indian, such as Bollywood,” Martelly said.

Martelly said that there are similar benefits in Zumba and Bollywood, cardio, calorie burning and core work to name a few. But Bollywood has more of a cultural, ethnic core adopted from India, whereas Zumba borrows from a variety of Latin American styles.

Several competitive Bollywood fusion dance teams also have sprung up, including the award-winning Om Shanti at the University of Arizona, founded in 2008 by Kayya Giridharan, Neha Giridharan and Abhishek Gulanti. The team competes nationwide and has won a number of contests, awards and prizes, including being ranked No. 1 in the nation. ASU also has a Bollywood dance crew.

There are several Bollywood studios throughout Arizona, including:

Contact reporter at leahecresswell@gmail.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.