Ever watched a Bollywood film? Those who have know the movies are punctuated with hip-shaking, shoulder-shimmying, foot-tapping group dance routines and killer music. Last week, The Greatist Team headed to a NYC dance studio to try out Doonya, a fitness class based on high-energy Bollywood dance moves. So how’d we end up doing the Bolly shake? The good folks at Classtivity, a new site that lists thousands of fitness classes in NYC, made finding and booking the class a piece of cake. We simply plugged in our neighborhood and time of day and browsed until we found something interesting — that’s how we ended up at Doonya.
We arrived at the dance studio and met Priya Pandya, co-founder of Doonya and one of our instructors that evening. Priya and her co-founder Kajal Mehta left their corporate jobs in 2005 to run Doonya full-time. Since then, the company has gained a loyal following and has been featured on Dr. Oz and in Shape Magazine and the New York Times (just to name a few). Dancing to Indian pop music for an hour may sound easy, but Priya assured us we would get a serious workout. She was right: By the end of the hour-long class we all had shaky legs and sweaty t-shirts. The class started with some stretching to get our legs, abs, and everything else limber for the body-rolls and high-speed shuffling that would come later. Next, Priya taught us a few steps that we used throughout the class: We learned how to shake our hips, hop on one foot while tapping the other, and move our arms gracefully. Armed with a basic knowledge of Bollywood moves, we launched enthusiastically, if not skillfully (I stepped on my own toes a few times), into the first routine. The class was broken up into a series of three to four minute songs, each with its own set of moves, which we learned quickly and then repeated throughout. If this sounds intimidating to non-dancers, do not fear! Most of the routines were not difficult, but it definitely took a few repetitions to ace tricky moves like the “Bolly tap” and “Bhangra shoulders.” Halfway through the class, Priya passed her instructor’s microphone to our second instructor, Rohan Sheth. This was definitely the point where the fit part of the class came in! During the second half of the class, we did high jumps, deep squats, push-ups, and planks — and we were definitely feeling the burn. Luckily, the great Bollywood tunes and fun rhythmic movements (sideways shimmy, anyone?) made the class class fly by. Want to give Doonya a try yourself? Check out their website or follow them on Twitter and Facebook for more information and a list of classes in NYC and the Washington, DC area. If you’re in the NYC area, check out Classtivity yourself — they list more than 4,000 each day in NYC and cover anything from yoga, to spinning, to Bollywood dance. Good news for West-coasters: The site is launching in LA and San Francisco soon! What’s the most creative fitness class you’ve ever tried out? Tell us about it in the comments below!