By Bobbi Taxali

BollyGroove in Chicago

Bollywood Groove in Chicago

There is a new, high-energy, fitness class in town, and it’s called Bollywood Cardio! This is a high intensity workout that is taking cities like Chicago, Houston and New York City by storm!

I started Bollywood Cardio about a month ago and I think I have finally discovered the workout for me. You know how people always say, you have to find that one exercise that you enjoy, and that doesn’t even feel you are working out? …well this is it and I want you to give it a try.

A friend of mine had started a Bollywood Cardio class with a dance company here in Chicago called Bollywood Groove. She had been asking me to join her for a few months, and I finally decided to soon after the July 4th holiday weekend. One too many barbecues, and not to mention a few summer cocktails, had done me over, it was time to start my workout regimen again. So, I bought a one month unlimited pass to a Bollywood Cardio/Dance workshop. A month into this fitness program, I have never felt so much better, physically, mentally and have had so much more energy. This class will have you sweating, but smiling at the same time, mostly thanks to the instructors who get you moving with infectious Bollywood tunes. Statistics show that an individual can burn up to 700 calories per 60 minute cardio class, but what’s so great is the class goes by quickly, because you are having so much fun, it doesn’t even seem like you are working out. I have seen ethnicities of all types, male and females, and ages across the board. That’s what makes this class so great, is that anyone can do it, and you never feel intimidated. It definitely can be challenging at times, you are not only working out, but also learning a lot of coordination with movement of your hands and feet, especially when working out to a good Bhangra song! I talked to a few people in my class and this is what they had to say:

Sonia Martinez says, “I have been taking classes for a year and half now. Bollywood Cardio has been like freedom for me. I am learning a lot about Indian culture and I have many Indian friends that I feel closer to–it’s an experience I can share.”

Parveen Vij, a 63-year-old widower adds, “This is a good cardio class for me. My wife passed away 3 years ago, so I had started Yoga, Meditation, and now Bollywood Cardio. I like being around younger people because it makes me feel younger, and I enjoy Bollywood songs and dance.”

“Bollywood awakens my extroverted alter ego and instantaneously reconnects me with unabashed freedom, joy and youth,” states Medha Pratap.

The founder and owner of Bollywood Groove, Ajanta Chakraborty stated, “Bollywood Dance is like the looking glass to all different types of dance…there is dance influence from all type of genres, including, Jazz, Hip Hop, Arabic, and Flamenco dance, like the song “Senorita” that we work out to , from the movie “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara”. Indian dance is very folk driven, it is the beat of the common people. It is exotic, joyful, it captures your imagination, and it touches your soul.” Bollywood Groove is a Chicagoland-based Bollywood and Bhangra and Dance company with currently 10 Instructors and has had over 2,500 members join their program since 2010. They offer classes in downtown Chicago, Bucktown, Evanston, and coming soon to the suburbs and near Devon Avenue. Their mission is to make these classes accessible to everyone.

Also, Bollywood Groove has a dance program for kids called, Bollywood Kids. “In every class, sessions are usually 8 weeks long, we focus on a different region of India. It’s usually a state, for example let’s say Gujarat. We will learn a lot about Gujarat like language, festivals, different cultural elements and we will focus on the dance of that region.” said Chakroborty. Currently Bollywood Kids offers approximately 27 classes a week with classes for toddlers to teenagers.

NYC's Doonya

NYC’s Doonya

Not only can you find these classes in Chicago, but other cities across the country are offering Bollywood Cardio/Dance classes. Doonya, located in New York City, founded in 2009 by Priya Pandya and Kajal Desai, have taken their love for Indian dance and translated it into a fitness program. Rohan Sheth, Master Instructor and Marketing Manager stated, “I decided to join Doonya as an instructor for dance choreography classes. At the time I weighed about 190 lbs. When I joined the company, I also started taking their Doonya signature workout class. After a year of just doing Doonya and eating well, I was down to 155! At that point, having studied under the fantastic instructors, I started teaching the workout class as well. Now I teach our signature workout class 8-12 times per week. For me the benefits are emotional as well as physical. No matter what kind of day I’m having, I can walk into the studio, start dancing and within two minutes, there’s a goofy grin on my face for the rest of class. The best part is that the feelings of happiness and power stay with me and with our students after they leave the studio.” Doonya also offers classes to all different ages. In fact, co-founder Priya Pandya’s mom, Ritu Pandya, age 65, is an instructor and teaches classes in New Jersey.

The Transformation Studio in Houston.

The Transformation Studio in Houston.

If you are in the Houston area, The Transformation Studio, which started in 2009, offers Bollywood-Bhangra dance classes. When asked why Bollywood Cardio/Dance is becoming so popular, owner and creator Sarah Ali stated, “The colorful, entertaining and energetic South Asian culture has been alluring people from around the world for hundreds of years. Though, in the last two decades, due to the Internet, YouTube, and many cross-over successes of Bollywood films,…and television programs like “So you Think You Can Dance”, more people have been exposed to the culture.”  The Transformation Studio offers other dance classes, such as Belly Dance and Zumba as well. Their classes are smaller in size and are more intimate and cater to ladies only.

To learn more about these Bollywood Cardio/Dance classes and to register for a class in your area, please visit the company’s’ websites listed below. Nach Baliye!

Bollywood Groove


The Transformation Studio



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