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Health and the City

Dancers are known for their trim, perfectly conditioned bodies, incredible levels of fitness and graceful way of moving. Stephanie Ross joins Virgin Active Barbican’s dance-based exercise classes to see how good you really can look and feel.

and music are a mix – cumbia, salsa, merengue, mambo, soca, samba, belly dancing, reggaeton (Panamanian – blend of music/dance from Jamaica and Latin American salsa and rap) plus more. Virgin Active Barbican has ten dance-based exercise classes per week. There are six instructors – each with very different backgrounds, styles and skills – five of whom teach a Zumba program of some sort.

Stephanie Ross A Arvin taking a Zumba class 38

s a way of getting fit and staying fit dance- based classes, like Zumba, have become hugely popular. It’s fun

and the more you do it the better your co-ordination becomes which raises your confidence and makes you feel good. It’s brilliant cardiovascular exercise and burns between 500 and 1000 calories per class. The sheer range of movements loosens up any tense parts (hips for many people) and tones muscles everywhere. You don’t need to be able to dance nor do you need a dancing partner. If you’ve only tried these classes once or twice - persevere - after a few sessions you do pick it up. If you are initially unfamiliar with the moves try concentrating on getting the steps first and then bring in the arms later.

Zumba is a latin dance-based

exercise class that Colombian dancer/choreographer Alberto ‘Beto” Perez launched in the 90’s in the US and then more recently brought it here to the UK. The steps

Hannah is a professional dancer who also performs in Mamma Mia at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Leicester Square. She started learning ballet at the age of three and then added tap, modern and jazz as she got older. From sixteen to eighteen years she studied dance, singing and acting ‘A’ levels at Tring Performing Arts School before being snapped up by The Mamma Mia International Tour Company for a two year contract. Upon returning to London Hannah took a year out from performing to teach dance and Zumba. In her class she uses the Zumba program as a base and then varies the moves and steps including

country dancing, tango and more - drawing on her extensive dance experience. She is a lovely, lively teacher and a beautifully talented dancer. Adrian Dixon is a talented professional dancer and aerobics instructor . He is from Zimbabwe originally. In his teens he joined his sister’s ballroom dancing classes, progressing to competing with the teacher’s daughter. When he moved to the UK he finally had the chance to train as a dancer. His dance and aerobics classes are hugely popular and a very successful mix of both disciplines. He also teaches Body Pump.

Arvin looks and moves like he is a professional dancer. I’m always amazed by his speed and lightness of movement and he can cross the studio in a flash to show class participants at either end of the group the moves. But actually, in addition to being a very experienced and well-qualified Zumba teacher (which he took up to keep fit and combat stress), he is a Senior NHS Charge Nurse in a rehabilitation ward. His Zumba class is fast-paced and a lot of fun. He uses many latin- based moves and draws quite a crowd. He also teaches the Aqua Zumba class on Thursday at 18.00. Helene Panzarino is an

experienced Zumba and fitness instructor. She also runs her own personal development and weight loss businesses and is an ambassador for Diabetes UK. Her background is in finance and she branched out into fitness following a serious illness many years ago. Her classes

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