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dance workouts

We Tried It: Doonya Fitness Party

Written on March 6, 2014 at 6:11 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

If you think Zumba is fun, you’ve got to try Doonya. This Bollywood-inspired dance workout made me sweat – and smile – a crazy amount (smiling has to burn a certain number of cals, right?).  And when you feel like it’s one big party, like I did last week when I attended their first-ever fitness dance party, the culturally-inspired moves will have you grooving like it’s your job.

Co-founded by Priya Pandya and Kajal Desai in 2011, Doonya (which means “world” in Hindi/Urdu) is a cardio and strength-building fitness class matched to the beats of the latest Bollywood-inspired music. It’s totally taking the fitness world by storm, and got its first big push into the spotlight back in 2008 thanks to the hit song “Jai Ho” in Slumdog Millionaire. My class was two hours long – definitely plenty of time to get a hefty burn in – but I consider that a consolation prize (not a bad one, mind you) because it was So. Much. Fun.

On my way into class, admittedly, I was a little nervous. I grew up taking dance classes, so I knew I was coordinated enough. I’d also taken my fair share of Zumba classes, meaning I’m pretty familiar with dancing for fitness, rather than style and grace. But I had never taken on something quite like this. It wasn’t a genre I was at all familiar with. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to catch on quick enough or if I was about to make a complete fool of myself.

But as I joined about 40 other Doonya-goers at DANY Studios in downtown New York City for an all-out dance-a-thon, I realized it was just about having fun and getting fit. We started off with a quick warm-up to get our heart rates going and then the dancing began. Bollywood dance features a lot of high-energy movements. It’s not just leg lifts and shoulder twists, but hand gestures and arm movements too. You’re working your core, arms and quads, all at the same time. It’s a great way to get a full body workout and have some fun. Don’t get me wrong, I love hitting the gym as much as the next fitness fanatic, but sometimes it can get old. It’s nice to switch it up with a fitness class like Zumba, and now Doonya, too!

Interested in trying it out yourself? They have classes in New York, Washington D.C. and Houston. They’ve also held events in Los Angeles and hope to head over to India in the near future. Keep your eye out!

Photo courtesy of Al Chan.

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Louis Van Amstel’s LaBlast Workout DVD

Written on January 24, 2013 at 3:59 pm , by

Louis Van Amstel’s LaBlast DVDs

Written by editorial intern, Jennifer Fiorentino

For some of us, we watch Dancing with the Stars and think “I would need serious professional help to be able to dance that.” DWTS pro Louis van Amstel has developed a dance fitness program, LaBlast, that lets even complete newbies learn the steps to the Cha Cha, Quickstep, the Merengue and more routines while working up a sweat. Dancing queen wannabes can find a class near them taught by instructors trained in van Amstel’s program, or get stepping in their own living rooms with the LaBlast DVD series. We caught up with the pro to learn more about his program and his fitness motivation.

You are a three-time world dance champion, Emmy-nominated choreographer and spent seven seasons on DWTS. Did you ever dream of such success?

It’s funny, after fulfilling my dream of becoming a world champion the first time, I realized that dreams are more like goals. If you work hard you can really achieve anything you want. Repeating the world champion title two more times only confirmed that sheer hard work can make dreams come true. After moving to the United States from Europe I felt I was in the right country to make even bigger dreams come true. Dancing with the Stars, my dance fitness program LaBlast, My active wear clothing line LVA are all dreams that became reality, because of dedication, goal setting, and a lot of intuition. Dreams can come true if you follow your gut! I can’t believe I’m on dream number five. DREAM, PEOPLE! Set a goal and follow your heart!

What does dancing mean to you?

Dance has meant so many different things to me in the course of my career. At first all dance meant to me was nothing, because my (grand)parents wanted me to dance. It wasn’t my choice. After doing my first competition a while later it light up a fire in me which made me see dance as a sport. It became about winning. Because of my growing up with alcohol abuse from my parents and their unhappy marriage, I used dance as therapy. I could express my feelings through dance, but didn’t have to share my personal feelings with anyone. Thank god for dance. If it weren’t for dance I probably would have ended up becoming an addict myself. Instead I chose dance to excel in, so you can imagine what dance has meant to me and always will!

Why did you decide to turn your LaBlast workout into a DVD series?

Being part of Dancing With The Stars from the beginning I realized that the celebrities get hooked on dancing. Dance becomes a lifestyle, because it makes you feel so good on many levels. It’s addicting! The feeling of achieving the steps, the different cultures and characters of each dance make it such a thrill. Also, it makes women feel feminine and contributes to confidence and inner sexuality. Not to mention LaBlast gets people in the best shape of their lives, because dance uses the entire body, physically, mentally, and emotionally. After my season with Kelly Osbourne I decided it was time to create the LaBlast DVDs, so people at home can experience what all the celebs on DWTS go through each season. Anyone can dance and should experience the joy of dance. The benefits are endless!

How many calories can we expect to burn in one 30-minute session?

Depending on how involved you get people can burn between 300 and 600 calories. The more you get involved emotionally into LaBlast, the more calories you’ll burn. Dance is all about getting into the meat and potatoes, haha, not just doing the steps correctly. Don’t be afraid to go crazy and goof off, because it’ll burn you more calories. Read more