“They don’t train their bodies, they train their souls!”*

“They don’t train their bodies, they train their souls!”*

Zumba, vol 2

Zumba perfectly balances oriental dance in my life. While bellydance is full of different emotions, different levels of energy and very much dependent on one’s mood, surroundings etc., Zumba is pre-formatted, crazy, intense and 100% fun.

It had been almost a year since my last Zumba training in Delhi, so I signed up for Zumba Basic 2 in Dubai, taught by Zumba Education Specialist Steve Boedt. The training itself consists of six basic rhythms (belly dance, flamenco, tango, samba, soca and quebradita), plus there is a lot of instructor-centred discussion on topics such passion, burnout and self-confidence.

Now, if you are fluent in any of the above-mentioned dance styles, and have taken a Zumba-class, you know that we are talking of completely different planets there. To be fair, they do not try to claim that what they do is authentic, but inspired. Nevertheless, some of the stuff what gets presented as bellydance in Zumba, made me chuckle (think of tomb-painting arms, for example ;))

What also made me laugh was Steve going round and apologizing multiple times for what the format has done to bellydance! I guess he does it at every training, but being in UAE where bellydance is quite visible, he had to put an extra effort into it. Actually, we even got down to disussing where the term hagallah comes from!

It wasn’t just laughs and (sweaty!) dance sessions though. I love how the Zumba trainings also focus on the instructor – how too much passion can lead to burnout, and how to deal with it; what characteristics are important for an instructor; and how to overcome self-doubts in class. I found the latter topic very interesting – we often address that issue when coaching people to perform, but I haven’t seen much discussion when it comes to teaching classes. The moral that I took from the training was that you should never make up stories in your head. It is always better to get the facts.

And if you ever get the dance to take a Zumba class with Steve, grab the chance. He’ll make you laugh, he’ll make you sweat, and he’ll probably make sure there are parts of you hurting the next day!!!

* Steve’s impression of the first time he saw Zumba. However, I’d say it would also apply for oriental dance! ­čÖé ┬á


This past weekend, I spent two days at the Zumba Basic 1 Instructor training, and now I am an official Zumba® instructor!

I love the essence of Zumba┬«. Even though it is crazy fun, it is really a very systematized format – you can fit the basics into an Excel-table ­čśÇ And, in addition to fitness, it can give you some very special coordination drills: just try to layer a 7-count arm combination over a 6-count step pattern!

Our instructor, Sucheta Pal, was a ball of fire, really. She was enthusiastic and full of energy. And when she told us a story of how she quit a “grown-up” job to dance, I knew we had something in common. And when she discussed her concerns for the integrity of Zumba┬«, I felt like I could tell the same story about oriental dance.

What I loved most about Sucheta’s training were the very practical teaching tips, starting from how one should enter the class to how to take care of newcomers without making them feel too self-conscious. I mean, in a standardized format you can learn steps and choreographies from almost anyone, but this kind of knowledge comes from years of practice.

As an oriental dancer, I was pleasantly surprised how much emphasis is put on musicality. We learned to identify the main rhythms, and even made graphs to break down songs. And I really enjoyed the exercise where Sucheta divided us into groups, assigned each group a part of a song and a movement, and then played the music so that we could recognise and react to it. I never expected that from a fitness training.

All in all, it was a great weekend. I learned new things, got my behind kicked, and made some new contacts in the Indian and Nepalese dance world. And now you will probably start hearing Zumba┬« news from me! ­čśë