Now I say that with complete loyalty to Zumba, as I've been teaching it for more than four years and I don't see the Zumba Fitness empire going anywhere. But there's always new dance fitness trends, and I've been truly impressed following the lightening-speed growth of BollyX, a cardio dance class inspired by Indian Bollywood films and music. How convenient that FitMamaEats contributor, Fen Tung, is one of the lead certified BollyX instructors in the Boston area and is attracting a growing number of devotees! Get a sneak peek below of the BollyX promo video (featuring Fen and her husband David in the background) and then check out my interview with Fen as she describes this exciting new class.
Q: What is BollyX and what kind of workout is it?
A: BollyX is a cardio dance fitness class set to the best beats of Bollywood. You’ll not only get your heart rate up in this class, but you’ll also tone your muscles while doing some Bhangra.
Q: What attracted you to become an instructor when you were already a Zumba instructor?
A: I actually started taking Bollywood/Bhangra instructional dance lessons in 2010 before I became a licensed Zumba instructor in April 2011. I instantly fell in love with Bollywood/South Asian music back in 2010 and when teaching Zumba, I always had at least one Bollywood song in my playlist. I first heard about BollyX in June 2013 when I took a demo class. The music and choreography were amazing! I realized how little I knew about the different styles of South Asian dance and was eager to learn more. More education never hurt anyone—I feel that Zumba and BollyX are similar in terms of energy and fun, but different in terms of technique and music. It gives me the variety I need to avoid burning out and keeps things new and refreshing!
Q: What makes BollyX different than Zumba?
A: Besides the obvious (music and dance styles), BollyX’s class format ends with a “performance” song so that each person can let his/her inner “Bollywood star” come out! Bollywood is all about personality and performance. It’s a chance for people to really let loose. This is the section that people really look forward to in each class and is not a part of a Zumba class.
Q: Can a beginner brand new to exercise take this class safely? How do you satisfy a class of participants with mixed fitness levels?
A: The BollyX class cycles between higher intensity and lower intensity dance sequences. As an instructor, I always let the class know they can modify the dance moves to keep it low impact for safety or to suit their needs/fitness levels—it’s important to listen to your body. This class is for everyone including those new to exercise. The more advanced exercise enthusiast gets a great workout by taking the higher intensity options. There is a bit of a learning curve, as is the case for all group exercise classes, but BollyX is not about dancing perfectly; it's about enjoying the music and appreciating how your body wants to move to that music. There are plenty of people coming to take BollyX with no dance experience having a great time and getting a great workout. We keep the same songs in the playlist for 4-6 weeks so the participants can memorize the choreography and feel successful “performing” the songs. The playlist differs by 1-2 songs each week so the music and dancing stays fresh and exciting.
Q: Where are you now teaching the class and are there other classes in the Boston area?
A: To find the latest class schedule and to register for classes in the Boston/Cambridge area, click here. I currently teach at the Dance Complex in Cambridge every other Monday night, and there is also a Thursday night class. Additional classes are offered at iDance in Burlington, Harvard University and VIM Fitness. More classes will be showing up at various gyms but currently there aren’t enough certified instructors to fill the demands. If anyone is interested in teaching BollyX, there are certification courses offered every few months.
Q: How do you become a certified instructor and do you need to obtain continuing credits every year?
A: Click here for complete info on trainings. BollyX recommends but does not require an existing group fitness certification such as AFAA. You don't need dance or fitness experience but it does help. Unlike Zumba, there is a practical exam given after the training. To maintain your BollyX certification you can either join the Instructor Portal for continuing education for a quarterly fee (the certification remains valid as long as you are enrolled in the Portal), or if you choose not to enroll in the Portal you can retake another BollyX Certification course within a year of your original training date. You will receive 6.5 AFAA CEU’s after taking the BollyX Certification Course. The Cambridge Athletic Club is offering a BollyX Certification Course on Sunday March 23rd. Click here for more info and to register!