7 Days & 7 Ways To Get In Shape!

Swap the gym for one of these fun fitness regimes instead, roadtested by Momtaz Begum-Hossain.

Posted: 09.01.13

If you’re harbouring secret ambitions to join a cheerleading squad then be warned, shaking plastic pom-poms is harder than it looks. Exercise has come a long way from wobbling it out on the treadmill. Dance classes from ballet to Bollywood are sweeping the nation, while ancient practises like yoga are being fused with a modern flavour to appeal to the 21st century fitness fiend. So rip up your gym membership card, bid farewell to step classes and free weights; and get your dancing shoes on… 

The class: Combining handclaps, heel clicks and striking arm and body movements, flamenco is about passion, drama and emotion. Instructed by
flamenco maestro Zandra Escudero I was led through a series of choreographies and foot stamping. I didn’t feel as elegant as the more accomplished dancers but I returned to the office feeling like a powerhouse.
Benefits:The disciplined nature of flamenco increases your stamina, co- ordination and posture and, because you’re doing constant arm exercises, your top half gets a good toning. The rigidity of the dance also does wonders for your posture.
Results:You need to attend a lot of classes to master the necessary attitude and co-ordination, so most sessions want
you to commit to a course rather than drop in. For me, trying to wear heels for an hour was the biggest challenge, but you certainly get a decent foot workout.
Diet:Fresh Mediterranean tapas such as olives and salads are the perfect light lunch needed for a dancer. Or for a more filling
meal, try a traditional Spanish paella, the combination of rice (carbs) and seafood (protein) give you the perfect balance.
Where to try it:Pineapple Dance Studios
www.pinapple.uk.com offer classes in London or contact The Escuela de Baile Flamenco School

The class: Not for the feint hearted, in the first session we were encouraged to stand on our heads and perform advanced moves, but that’s the philosophy, that nothing is unobtainable – beginning with the hard stuff means the easy bitswill come naturally.
Designed and taught by yogi and hip hop fanatic Neil Patel, a fun musical warm up is followed by abs, choreographed sequences, breakdance
and yoga freezes and finally a blissful chill out.
Benefits: Your stamina is put to the test – keeping up with the movements gets your heart rate going, making it a good form of cardiovascular exercise. Emphasis is placed on muscle toning so your abs, chest, back and butt all get definition. The end of the session is based on meditation and relaxation leaving you totally revitalised.
Results: Being a full bodywork out, I was left aching in places I neverknew existed. My thighs in particular were hurting from the stretching but given time (practise makes perfect), the long term benefits of yoga will keep you in good health for years to come.
Diet:Yogis aren’t concerned with the chemical content of food such as vitamins and protein; the effect food has on your mind is much more important.
Sattvic foods promote ‘calmness of mind’ is favourable for spiritual growth and includes fruits, nuts, seeds, leafy vegetables, honey and milk  - all of which should be organic.
Where to try it: Hip Hop Yoga was launched in the UK by the Rapping Yogi, Neil Patel. The first class is free.

The class: a collaboration between Reebok and entertainment company Cirque du Soleil, Jukuari claims to give you the sensation of flying. Each
participant is given an individual trapeze, called a Flyset, which is used for hanging, spinning, walking and jumping.
Benefits: The 45-minute routine strengthens and lengthens the body through cardio, balance and core training. The entire body gets a work out with particular emphasis of the upper body.
Results: My back ached for two days after the class; muscles I never knew existed were shaken up. It’s ideal for perfecting the ‘sexy back’ I need to be in with a chance of seducing Justin Timberlake.
Diet: You need a lot of energy for trapeze work – energy rich foods include complex carbs like whole grain products,
rice, cereal and pasta, all of these should be included as part of a balanced, healthy diet.
Where to try it: www.davidlloyd.co.uk

The class: After an aerobic warm up with stretches to wake up your arms there are three stages to the class – pole walking, swings and climbs. The first section, involves some serious booty shaking as well as learning how to hold the pole and position your body, followed by show stopping moves like the Fireman spin. Finally the tricky pole climbing, which involves pulling yourself up on to the pole for sitting and hanging positions.
Benefits: Guaranteed building of muscular strength and endurance and over time you will develop core strength, defining your figure with all the body toning exercises. You will increase upper body strength because you constantly have to hold your bodyweight off the ground and will improve overall co-ordination and flexibility.
Results: After a one-hour session I was more exhausted than a whole afternoon spent in the gym. Every muscle in my body had been challenged, I also had pole burns and bruises but despite the pain, I still felt pretty hot and ready to unleash my new moves on the nearest dance floor, shame it was midweek.
Diet: Steer clear of the saturated fats found in fast food and instead opt for simple home cooking like grilled fish, cous cous and vegetables. Reduce your intake of calories as the day progresses and never eat heavy meals in the evening.
Where to try it: www.poledancingschool.com

The class: First up was learning how to master hoola-ing whist feeling comfortable and luckily my hips came in handy – this isn’t for skinny girls – you need some womanly assets to start out. Then it was on to spinning the hoop up and down my body before trying tricks to impress friends with.
Benefits: Advocates say that a stint of hoola hooping refreshes you more than a short nap boosting overall energy levels. It’s also excellent for your back because the coordination of body movements and breathing strengthens your torso muscles, enhancing the flexibility of your spine so you’ll be swiveling into shape in no time.
Results: The more you do it, the more calories you burn. The exercises can also be targeted to specific areas so you should hoola hoop around where you want to get toned such as your arm or midriff, strengthening your waist, hips and knees. The best outcome is that it’s also mood enhancing, I couldn’t stop smiling!
Diet: Put that packet of crisps down, we’re talking hoola hooping not hula-hoops! Because the focus of hoola hooping is to tone, give your body a helping hand by reducing your sugar intake, processed food with high salt content like fast food and white carbs like bread and pasta. These often cause water retention making your tummy swell up.
Where to try it: Search for local classes

The class: An entertaining session that kicks off with some all American chanting followed by team formations, stunt work and plenty of pom-pom shaking. Like aerobics but much more fun.
Benefits: You’ll develop teamwork skills as well as increase flexibility and suppleness. It tests you physically and mentally; there are routines and timings to suss, but you’ll leave feeling motivated, alert and streetwise!
Results: Because it’s a cardio workout, I felt shattered and sure I couldn’t endure a three-hour Superbowl. My arms ached from the pom-poms action, but I may well queue up for the next Glee auditions!
Diet: Eat snacks throughout the day to keep energy levels up. Include dairy products for strong bones, as well as cottage cheese, yogurt, power shakes, and antioxidants to keep your immunity strong.
Where to try it: Classes are offered at Pineapple Dance Studio plus workshops, private sessions and squad training nationwide.

The class: Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough, Amir Khan. Consisting of a complete body workout using boxing gloves and focus pads with elements of circuit training; you’ll throw jabs, ducks and high kicks releasing pent up frustrations.
Benefits: Boxfit provides a complete cardiovascular workout so is great for toning your body including abs. Best of all it’s a fantastic stress buster so the perfect way to end the week.
Results: I turned up with no aggression but after donning the gloves, was ready for a punch up. The speed sessions where I had to jab non-stop for three minutes made my arms ache for days but shoulder definition is well on its way.
Diet: Opt for carbs with a high nutritional value such as yams and beans and start the day with a bowl of oats for their slow energy release. Chicken, tuna and eggs are excellent sources of protein while Omega fats found in seafood, flaxseed and cod liver oil help keep joints in order. 
Where to try it: Local leisure centres nationwide offer boxfit classes. www.better.org.uk

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